Right now I’m in the Bay Area, spending some good quality time with my family. Whenever I visit, my dad has a stockpile of random cooking shows for me to watch that he’s recorded over the last few months. The recording list usually includes random PBS or local independent cooking shows that have some kind of reference to food and travel. If the title mentions food, it’s getting recorded!
My dad’s list of recorded shows is usually so long that we’ll start watching, then after 2 minutes decide if we should delete or continue watching. As you can imagine we get through them pretty quickly and have discovered some true food and travel gems along the way. I can confidently say I would have never found these shows if it wasn’t for my dad and our food and travel roulette!
At home, I usually watch mainstream shows and networks, like Parts Unknown, Top Chef, Food Network, The Chew (😩), and The Kitchn. I only venture outside of my regularly scheduled programming when I’m in the Bay Area, sitting on the couch with my dad, staying up till midnight flipping through his list of shows.
Maybe you’ve heard of some of the PBS shows listed below (if so, why haven’t we talked about them?!) but they certainly are not considered mainstream. Some of the shows on my list are new, while others have been secret favorites for years but all of them I think you will enjoy.
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having – PBS & Netflix
One of my all time favorite food and travel shows! I’ll Have What Phil’s Having is a feel good, comedic take on a sheltered, American palate discovering foreign cuisine. Phil is the creator and producer of Everybody Loves Raymond and his unscripted humor is exactly like the show. This is not a snobby food and travel show. Phil travels around the world trying new cuisines, sometimes for the very first time, pushing himself outside his comfort zone with plenty of comedy along the way. His Skype calls back home recapping the trip to his elderly parents is one of my highlights. The show started on PBS but has since been picked up and continued on Netflix.
Season 1 Series Preview: I’ll Have What Phil’s Having
My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas – PBS
If you’ve ever daydreamed about living in the rural European countryside, shopping at the local markets, and creating simple recipes in your open air kitchen, this show is for you! Diane is a New Yorker who’s been living in Greece for about 25 years. My Greek Table features traditional Greek recipes prepared in Diane’s kitchen as she talks about Greek traditions and cuisine. I actually want to make her recipes, which she creates with the American home cook in mind. Diane also takes you along as she visits a local farmer or village baker. Sometimes she’ll also show you how an ingredient is made, from the soil to your table, and every step in between.
Good Starter Episode: Olive Oil Everything
Food Flirts – PBS
My most recent show obsession! We discovered this show just last week and I can’t get enough. Food Flirts features the Brass Sisters who are elderly home cooks that prepare mostly Jewish cuisine. The Brass Sisters travel around the US trying new foods, like ramen, for the first time! They take pride in ‘flirting’ their way into the back of every restaurant so they can see how each dish is made. At the end of the show, they make their own version of the dishes they tried, always adding some kind of recipe twist. This new show is feel-good and very light-hearted!
Check, Please! – Local PBS Stations
Most major cities have their own version (like Check, Please Seattle or Check, Please Bay Area) but every show is set up the same way. Three strangers each recommend their favorite local restaurant to the group and everyone, on their own, tries each of the recommendations. After everyone has gone to each of the restaurants, they all come together on the show and recap what they ordered and if they liked the food.
Depending on the city, sometimes it gets a little heated between the diners! Our local Check, Please Arizona is pretty tame and everyone in the group likes everyone else’s recommendation but on Check, Please Bay Area not everyone agrees that the food was good – drama! No matter what city is being featured, watching this show helps me find great restaurant recommendations and discover some local hidden gems. Do a little research for your local Check, Please stations or use their website to find a local recommendations if you are traveling to a new city!