Food-Travel Shows To Watch When You’re Hungry for Adventure

We know you’re itching to get away, to experience a slice of life elsewhere. We’ve seen it in the response to our recent travel stories on Bali, Bologna and Brooklyn, for example. So, while you’re dreaming of weaving through food markets in Bangkok, Istanbul, Tokyo or Chile – or dining at one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite food-travel shows to inspire your next big trip.

Somebody Feed Phil

Season seven of the wildly popular Somebody Feed Phil, hosted by the writer and creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, recently landed on Netflix. The lovable goofball Phil Rosenthal has an insatiable zest for food, for entertaining, and for throwing himself into any activity suggested by his producer and little brother Rich Rosenthal. This show is all about the childlike joy of experience – whether it’s eating juicy hoagies as long as his arm in Philadelphia or drinking his favourite fruit in a sweet mango lassi in Mumbai. It’s packed with dad jokes, and the running gag of Phil video calling his friends (it used to be his parents, before they passed away in 2019 and 2021). In the latest season, Rosenthal visits Scotland, Iceland, Kyoto, Dubai and Washington DC, among other places.
Stream it on Netflix.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Before his death in 2018, the chef and TV personality visited more than 80 countries to film his Emmy-winning series Parts Unknown. No one does it quite like Anthony Bourdain, who takes a punk approach to sitting down with people in all parts of the world to eat like they eat. Each episode is peppered with personal stories, whether it’s interrogating how people feel about communism in China to investigating what it means to have fun in Iran. He takes us to Libya, Colombia, Peru, Spain – you name it. And while his insights into the spicy-rich bun bo hue in Vietnam or a bowl of “utterly delicious” blood soup in Thailand are inspiring, seeing Bourdain sumo wrestling in Japan or showing off his Brazilian jiu jitsu skills in New York is TV gold.
Stream it on Apple TV, Prime Video, SBS, DocPlay and Youtube.

Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy

We could listen to Tucci talk for hours about candy-like artichoke crisped to perfection in Rome, or Romagna’s poverty-born “priest choker” strozzapreti. His soothing narration is as silky as the saffron-infused risotto he’s spooning into his mouth in Milan, or the deliciously simple pasta alla norma in Sicily. In the six-part series, filmed in the early stages of the pandemic (you’ll hear plenty of references to it), the American actor taps into his Italian roots by tasting the country’s famous dishes with home cooks, professionals and even the “Michelin star-chaser” Massimo Bottura. He charms nonnas into sharing secrets to their family recipes for ragu and casually catches up with locals such as Federico Fellini’s niece, Francesca Fellini.
Stream it on SBS

Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico

The Desperate Housewives star was born and raised in Texas with Mexican heritage. In a copy-paste format following Searching for Italy (Tucci is an executive producer on the series), Longoria travels around Mexico tasting the dishes that have a deep connection to its First Nations cultures, as well as those directly linked to its history of Spanish and French invasion. There’s Oaxacan mole negro, Jaliscan “drowned” pork tortas, a dripping birria and Mexico City’s salsas with a kick. Longoria’s enthusiasm is electric and it’s delightful to hear her translate the importance of each plate’s complicated histories. She also travels beyond the city markets and critically acclaimed restaurants to the paddocks, farms and even a Mayan sinkhole.
Stream it on SBS.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

We could easily have picked Dave Chang’s other Netflix show, Ugly Delicious, but the far snackable Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner can be consumed in one sitting. In this four-parter, the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group jets off to Canada, Cambodia, Morocco and Los Angeles with celeb mates Seth Rogen, Kate McKinnon, Chrissy Teigen and Lena Waithe (in that order). It’s pre-pandemic times, and the focus is on getting to know the famous person as much as it is about the dishes on their plates. McKinnon’s as into durian ice-cream as she is watching the first gay dance troupe in Cambodia, whereas Teigen talks about eating human flesh with the same relish as she does playing Ghost in the tagine pottery studio. A highlight is the Waithe episode in LA, where it feels like there’s history and discerning chat around the food culture of the city, from buckwheat pancakes to marinated crawfish.
Stream it on Netflix.

Searching for Soul Food

Los Angeles restaurateur Alisa Reynolds workshopped the idea for a show about soul food with Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas back in 2017, when she was facing hard times running LA eatery My 2 Cents. Celebrity fans of the restaurant, including Solange and Issa Rae, helped save the restaurant, which is still cooking soul food dishes like fried chicken and cheese grits today. Reynolds’s pitch was a winner, though, and in 2023 she launched a food-travel series all about the history of soul foods around the world. She meets with cooks – in Mississippi, Naples, Cape Town and Appalachia, to name a few – to find out what makes dishes such as black-eyed peas, pizza and barbequed meats so meaningful to its communities. It’s packed with history – from slavery routes bringing Indian spices to South Africa to native Americans sewing seeds into their moccasins – and it’s also neatly packaged into 20-minute episodes.
Steam it on Apple TV.

Salt Fat Acid Heat

It’s seven years since chef and food writer Samin Nosrat launched her wildly popular cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat, focused on the four elements that, in her words, can make or break a dish. Her four-part Netflix series, released the following year, is still one of the most watched shows on the platform – and for good reason. Nosrat is a joyful, insatiably curious host. She travels to Italy (where she lived for a period of time), Japan, Mexico and California on a mission to understand the power of each key element in the way we cook. From picking olives in Italy for focaccia or squeezing sour oranges to marinate turkey in Yucatan, Nosrat gets hands-on in every episode, giving us insight into the cultural influences of well-balanced meals. It leans more on the cooking show format than a travel series, but Nosrat’s appetite for the way we eat – and have eaten for centuries – showcases different cultures in a way that makes us want to get to know the world a little better.
Stream it on Netflix.

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