The 19 Best Chef Documentaries (Ranked)

I was looking for a good list of docs on chefs and couldn’t easily find any. There are pleny of best food docs but chef docs are sort of lost in the shuffle.

So, I made one.

Here’s my initial list of chef documentaries. I’m up to 19 so far and will update this as I find more.

Enjoy!

1) Chef’s Table

I researched 30+ chef documentaries. I figured that one of them would beat Netflix’s”Chef’s Table” (a series on dozens of chefs).

Nope.

Chef’s Table beats them all.

This isn’t a cooking show.

Dreamed up by David Gelb—the genius behind “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”—this docuseries kicked off in April 2015 and now has profiles of 44 chefs (22 of them are for Chef’s Table Proper (2015 to 2016). Another 22 chefs are profiled through Chef’s Table’s 3 spin-offs (Pastry, BBQ and Pizza) which I’ll cover lower in this article.

I think the best episodes are:

  1. Francis Mallman (Season 1, Episode 3:) — I loved this one so much that I wrote an entire review on it. Michelin-star Chef who bails on the “BS” to cook on a remote island in Patagonia)
  2. Grant Achatz (S2, E1) — At Alinea in Chicago, he mixes up flavors, textures, and scents like a wizard. Meanwhile, he fought off a brutal illness that nearly finished him.
  3. Niki Nakayama (S1, E4) — A chef who specializes in kaiseki, a traditional Japanese practice that emphasizes seasonal ingredients and presentation. She runs n/naka in Los Angeles. The episode highlights her journey as a female chef in the highly competitive and male-dominated culinary scene.
  4. Magnus Nilsson (S1 E6) — the chef behind Fäviken in Järpen, Sweden, is known for his dedication to preserving traditional Nordic cooking method
  5. Jeong Kwan (S3, E1) — She’s a monk in Korea bypassing ego for soul!
  6. Massimo Bottura (S1, E1:) — The man behind the amzing Osteria Francescana in Modena Italy
  7. Virilio Martinez (S3, E6) — He leads Central in Lima Peru.
  8. Dan Barber (S1, E2)– Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills and Blue Hill in New York City. He’s a leader of the farm-to-table movement. You get his his philosophy of sustainable farming and expressing locality (the ingredients are sourced directly from the surrounding environment!).

And Chef’s Table is not just talking recipes and kitchen hacks.

We’re exploring deep stories, personal battles, and the sheer genius behind each dish these chefs create.

From Massimo Bottura shaking up Italian cuisine to Niki Nakayama’s poetic touches in LA, it’s all about passion, art, and food that’ll make your mouth water and your heart swell.

The cinematography? Think big-screen movie magic, not your standard chop-and-stir TV.

We’ve got sweeping shots that make each plate of food look like a masterpiece.

“Chef’s Table” isn’t just winning hearts; it’s snagging Emmy nods like they’re going out of style.

Eight nominations and counting. Why?

Because everyone loves food, right? And we secretly want to be a chef…or romantically involved with one.

Watch Chef’s Table on Netflix here.

2) Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Chef’s Table might be the best docuseries on chefs, but Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the best standalone documentary on a chef.

You think you love sushi?

Meet Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old master who’s devoted his life to perfecting the art of raw fish on rice.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) is a quiet, contemplative doc. That’s consistent with Jiro’s Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan (next to a subway station).

Jiro’s eatery is a modest 10-seat restaurant so everyone seated gets to watch the magic happen.

It’s a meditation on craft, obsession, and the relentless pursuit of perfection.

Jiro’s sushi is simple, but each morsel is the product of decades of dedication and hard work.

We see how that commitment ripples out to his staff, his suppliers, and especially his son Yoshikazu Ono — he faces the daunting prospect of one day filling Jiro’s shoes.

What makes the film so compelling is its gentle, unassuming style.

There’s no reality show drama or Hell’s Kitchen histrionics.

I love the precise way Jiro brushes soy sauce on a piece of tuna.

Or how his apprentices hand-press each grain of rice.

You’ll never look at a California roll the same way again.

Jiro is a sushi poet, and this film is an ode to his hushed, humbled artistry.

Watch Jiro — I found 7 places to watch Jiro for free, 3 to watch with subscription and 6 more that you can pay for. I dedicated a page for all this here: https://dailydoc.com/jiro-dreams-of-sushi/.

3) Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros

Frederick Wiseman’s epic (4 hour) “Menus-Plaisirs — Les Troisgros” was released on PBS March 22, 2024.

This doc is a feast for the taste buds and visual banquet into the Troisgros culinary dynasty.

I rank it the 3rd best documentary on chefs but it might end up being the best doc on restaurants overall (I haven’t written that article yet!).

For this review (Best Chef Docs) I’m going to emphasize the 3 Troisgros family chefs profiled. I’ll write a separate, longer review about the doc since it goes way beyond chefs (restaurant life, family dynasty, etc.).

First up, Michel Troisgros, age 65, the venerable chef who’s been steering the ship at the iconic La Maison Troisgros. Wiseman captures him orchestrating a kitchen where precision meets passion.

A standout scene? Michel meticulously adjusting sauces, his hands steady as the legacy he upholds.

After decades at the helm, he’s handing over the reins to the next generation, ensuring the Troisgros legacy doesn’t just endure—it evolves.

Enter César Troisgros, 37, now the head chef at Le Bois sans feuilles in Ouches, where old world meets new flair.

César’s chapter begins with a vibrant market scene. His eyes scanning for the perfect produce, his selections promising nothing short of culinary excellence.

Back in the kitchen, he commands, he inspires, he innovates. Watch for the moment he plates a John Dory with precision. It’s a true testament to his skill and a sign he’s ready to chart his own course.

Then there’s Léo Troisgros, the younger trailblazer, 30, running the show at La Colline du Colombier.

Léo’s approach? A blend of tradition and modernity.

Wiseman shines a spotlight on Léo’s creative process in a sequence where he crafts a signature dish from local ingredients,. His technique is flawless, his dedication clear.

The chef works magic in a setting that whispers of the past but screams of the future.

“Menus-Plaisirs — Les Troisgros” isn’t just watching food preparation; it’s about witnessing a lineage of chefs who don’t just cook—they create.

As Michel passes the baton to César and Léo, Wiseman’s lens captures every nuanced shift, every seasoned gesture. This documentary isn’t merely served; it’s savored.

Watch “Menus-Plaisirs — Les Troisgros” on PBS at https://www.pbs.org/video/menus-plaisirs-les-troisgros-rbfnou/

4) Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour

I couldn’t find a good trailer so above is the full episode 1 (including intro)

I love a good food adventure, and Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour delivers a rollicking global buffet.

You follow along as Tony hopscotches from Saigon to San Sebastian, salivating and wisecracking his way through local markets, street stalls, and grandma’s kitchens.

What makes the show so delicious is Bourdain’s unfiltered curiosity. He’s a gonzo gourmand, fearlessly sampling everything from Vietnamese snake wine to Moroccan sheep testicles. But he’s also a thoughtful observer, using food as a lens to explore culture, history, and identity.

You’ll meet a colorful cast of characters, from Michelin-starred chefs to Inuit whale hunters, each dishing out their own slice of local flavor.

Through it all, Bourdain is our wry, rebellious tour guide, always ready with a snarky one-liner or a sincere moment of connection over a shared meal.

Chefs that Appear in in Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour

  • Chef Dai Jianjun – Season 2, Episode 10: “Dining with Geishas”
    • In this episode set in Japan, Bourdain visits Chef Dai Jianjun’s traditional restaurant, where he experiences ancient Japanese cooking methods and learns about the intricate culture surrounding Geisha entertainment.
  • Chef Philippe Lajaunie – Season 1, Episode 7: “Eating on the Mekong”
    • Bourdain travels to Vietnam, where he explores the Mekong River’s culinary offerings with his friend and mentor Chef Philippe Lajaunie, diving into local specialties and vibrant street food.
  • Chef Olivier Roellinger – Season 1, Episode 12: “Pirate for a Day”
    • Set in Cancale, France, this episode sees Bourdain learning about the historical connection between pirates and the culinary world with Chef Olivier Roellinger, who is known for his use of spices.
  • Chef Ferran Adrià – Season 2, Episode 6: “Decoding Ferran Adrià”
    • Bourdain visits Spain to meet with Chef Ferran Adrià at the legendary elBulli. This episode showcases Adrià’s innovative culinary techniques that have revolutionized modern cuisine.
  • Chef Juan Mari Arzak – Season 2, Episode 3: “San Sebastián: A Food Lover’s Town”
    • Bourdain explores the culinary wonders of San Sebastián, Spain, with Chef Juan Mari Arzak, tasting his pioneering Basque dishes and discussing the evolution of regional cuisine.
  • Chef Francis Mallmann – Season 1, Episode 10: “Food Tastes Better with Sand Between Your Toes”
    • Bourdain heads to Uruguay to cook with Chef Francis Mallmann, who introduces him to his rustic, fire-based cooking techniques and a philosophy that celebrates local Uruguayan ingredients.
  • Chef Pía Quintana – Season 1, Episode 18: “Puebla, Where the Good Cooks Are From”
    • Bourdain is guided by Chef Pía Quintana through the rich culinary landscape of Puebla, Mexico, where he experiences authentic dishes that showcase the region’s traditional cooking methods and ingredients.
  • Chef Toshiro Konishi – Season 1, Episode 14: “Cooks Tour Goes to Japan”
    • This episode takes Bourdain to Tokyo, Japan, where he meets Chef Toshiro Konishi. Together, they explore the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, a testament to Konishi’s expertise in blending these distinct culinary traditions.

Watch “A Cook’s Tour” for free on:

Check here for all the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/a-cooks-tour

5) The Chef Show

Do you like buddy comedies and food?

The Chef Show delivers a delightful odd couple in Jon Favreau and Roy Choi.

I first heard of this docuseries when Tim Ferriss interviewed Favreau on his podcast. Killer interview by the way. I got the feeling Favreau enjoys cooking as much as he does working on movies.

It’s clear Favreau fell deeply in love with cooking on the set of Favreau’s 2014 film Chef.

That’s where he met Choi who trained the actor on how to sling a knife like a pro.

Now they’re hitting the road, cooking up a storm with a rotating cast of celebrity guests.

You’ll tag along as they crisscross the country, stopping in culinary hotspots like Austin, Atlanta, and New Orleans.

In each city, they team up with local legends like 85-year-old pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz and James Beard Award-winner Nina Compton, swapping stories and techniques over sizzling pans.

What makes the show charming is the easy chemistry between Favreau, 55, and Choi, 52.

They dish out equal parts hilarity and culinary wisdom, whether they’re debating the perfect brisket rub or reminiscing about their favorite food movies.

The Chef Show is a joyful, laid-back romp.

Here are some of the best chefs profiled by episode:

  • Aaron Franklin – Pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas (Season 1, Episode 3: “Hog Wild”)
  • Tootsie Tomanetz – Legendary pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas (Season 1, Episode 3: “Hog Wild”)
  • Nina Compton – Chef and owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans, Louisiana (Season 1, Episode 4: “New Orleans”)
  • Andrew Rea – YouTube personality and creator of the popular series Binging with Babish (Season 1, Episode 8: “Binging with Babish”)
  • David Chang – Chef, restaurateur, and founder of the Momofuku restaurant group (Season 2, Episode 1: “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner”)
  • Daniele Uditi – Chef and co-owner of Pizzana, known for their Neapolitan-style pizzas in Los Angeles (Season 2, Episode 2: “Pizzana”)
  • Michele Bonfantine – Chef and co-owner of Pizzana, known for their Neapolitan-style pizzas in Los Angeles (Season 2, Episode 2: “Pizzana”)
  • Wes Avila – Chef and owner of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles (Season 1, Episode 2: “Guerrilla Tacos”)
  • Jazz Singsanong – Chef and owner of Jitlada, a renowned Thai restaurant in Los Angeles (Season 1, Episode 1: “Roy Choi & Jitlada”)
  • Wolfgang Puck – Celebrity chef, restaurateur, and owner of the fine dining restaurant Spago (Season 2, Episode 4: “Wolfgang Puck”)
  • Robert Rodriguez – Filmmaker and founder of the El Rey Network, who joins the duo to cook and discuss food in films (Season 1, Episode 5: “Robert Rodriguez”)

Watch it on:

6) Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter

Control freak. Tyrant. Puppateer.

But also “a legend”.

Is there any chef like Charlie Trotter?

Love, Charlie serves up a complex, bittersweet story.

The doc traces the meteoric ascent of Charlie Trotter, the Chicago chef who revolutionized American fine dining before his shocking death at age 54.

You’ll be awed by Trotter’s culinary genius and relentless drive.

His eponymous restaurant was a temple of innovation, where he pushed the boundaries of what food could be.

But you’ll also see the dark side of that ambition, as Trotter’s uncompromising standards and explosive temper strained his relationships and his health.

Through interviews with friends, family, and former staff, we get a nuanced portrait of a brilliant but troubled artist.

It’s a story of creativity, addiction, and the high cost of pursuing perfection.

Love, Charlie is a haunting, elegiac film that leaves you pondering the thin line between genius and self-destruction. We were moved, and you will be too.

Watch it for $$ on Apple TV, Amazon, Vudu Fandango and others. Check here for the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/love-charlie-the-rise-and-fall-of-chef-charlie-trotter

7) Street Food Asia

We’ve always believed that some of the best meals come from humble carts and stalls, and Street Food: Asia proves it.

The chefs in this series aren’t graduates of some fancy culinary schools. But they’re chefs nonetheless.

This mouthwatering Netflix series takes us on a tour of the vibrant street food scenes across nine Asian countries.

You visit the bustling alleys of Bangkok to the night markets of Seoul.

Each episode spotlights a different city and the unsung heroes who keep its residents well-fed.

In Delhi, we meet 75-year-old Dalchand Kashyap, who’s been selling bhalla papdi chaat for over 45 years.

In Singapore, we follow 85-year-old Aisha Hashim as she dishes out her famous putu piring rice cakes.

What makes the show so compelling is how it captures the stories behind the sizzle.

These street food masters aren’t just cooks; they’re artisans, innovators, and keepers of cultural traditions.

Street Food: Asia is a love letter to the flavors that feed our souls and the resilient spirits who bring them to life. We devoured every episode, and you will too.

Featured chefs are:

  • Jay Fai – Bangkok, Thailand (Episode 1), 74-year-old street food legend known for her crab omelets
  • Toyo – Osaka, Japan (Episode 2), 76-year-old owner of a small taco stall in Osaka’s Nishinari district
  • Dalchand Kashyap – Delhi, India (Episode 3), 75-year-old chaat vendor in Delhi’s Ashok Vihar neighborhood
  • Mbah Satinem – Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Episode 4), 76-year-old jajan pasar (traditional snacks) seller
  • Liao Huiying – Chiayi, Taiwan (Episode 5), 88-year-old turkey rice master
  • Cho Yonsoon – Seoul, South Korea (Episode 6), 77-year-old owner of a tiny kimbap restaurant
  • Truoc – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Episode 7), snail soup vendor
  • Anh Manh – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Episode 7), 28-year-old owner of a popular phở stall
  • Aisha Hashim – Singapore (Episode 8), 85-year-old putu piring vendor
  • Masaaki Sakai – Singapore (Episode 8), 54-year-old owner of a Michelin-starred chicken rice stall
  • Rubilyn Diko Manayon – Cebu, Philippines (Episode 9), 29-year-old owner of an eatery specializing in nilarang bakasi (slow-cooked reef eel)

Watch it on:

8) Salt Fat Acid Heat

We’ve always believed that cooking is as much about instinct as it is about instructions.

Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat is here to set your culinary compass straight.

Based on Nosrat’s bestselling book, this four-part Netflix docuseries takes us on a globe-trotting journey.

Each episode is a sensory adventure, as Nosrat, a chef and former Chez Panisse apprentice, dives deep into one of the four pillars.

In “Fat,” we trek through the olive groves of Italy, learning why Ligurian olive oil is like liquid gold. Samin explores the importance of fat in cooking, focusing on olive oil, cheese, and pork. She visits Liguria to learn about the region’s famed olive oil and cooks with local grandmothers. In Emilia-Romagna, she discovers the secrets behind Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and cured meats.

In “Salt,” we head to Japan to see how miso and soy sauce fermentation can transform a dish. Samin delves into the world of salt and how it enhances flavor. She learns about the art of making miso and soy sauce through fermentation. She explores the role of salt in preserving foods, such as pickles and dried fish.

“Acid” takes us to Mexico, where Samin investigates the power of acid to balance and brighten dishes. She travels to the Yucatán Peninsula to learn about the use of citrus in Mayan cuisine. In Mexico City, she discovers the importance of tomatillos and chiles in creating tangy, complex sauces.

Finally, in “Heat,” Samin brings us back to California to examine the transformative effects of heat on food. At Chez Panisse in Berkeley, she learns about the art of cooking over live fire.

She also explores the science behind the Maillard reaction. It’s a powerful way to create flavor and texture in dishes like grilled steak and roasted vegetables.

But Nosrat isn’t just teaching us recipes; she’s giving us a new language to describe what’s on our plate. She’s got an infectious enthusiasm and contagious laughter.

She shows us that cooking is a joyful, elemental experience that anyone can master.

Salt Fat Acid Heat is a delicious love letter to the art and science of good eating. We savored every moment, and you will too.

Watch “Salt Fat Acid Heat” on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80198288

9) Julia

Hold onto your whisks and brace your kitchen counters.

“Julia,” the 2021 documentary on Julia Child, is not just a film—it’s a full-course meal of inspiration, served with a side of butter.

I’m biased here. My mom loved Julia and so I grew up with her on the TV in the background.

First things first: Julia Child wasn’t just a towering figure because she stood at an impressive 6’2″.

She was a culinary colossus who smashed the brittle glass ceiling of French cuisine with a rolling pin and a chuckle. And if you think French cooking is all about stern chefs and silent kitchens, think again.

We get to see Julia’s journey. From her privileged childhood in California to her transformative years in post-World War II Paris.

Paris is where she discovered her passion for French cuisine.

We see how she revolutionized American cooking with her groundbreaking cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”

Julia’s “The French Chef” TV show brought the boisterous joy of banging pots, dropping chickens, and unabashedly rescuing fallen soufflés right into the American living rooms.

“Julia,” directed by the skilled duo Betsy West and Julie Cohen (yes, the forces behind “RBG”), delves deliciously deep into the life of this kitchen icon.

It’s packed with savory archival footage that’ll make you feel like Julia’s right there.

You see her in her Cambridge kitchen, teaching you how to truss a chicken with the tenacity of a Paris-trained chef . But she’s also got the enthusiasm of your favorite eccentric aunt.

What makes this doc a standout? It’s the zest. Julia Child didn’t just cook; she performed. Every flip of the pancake was a flourish, every slice of the knife a beat in a rhythm, and every finished dish a finale that deserved a standing ovation.

West and Cohen capture this spirit beautifully.

They season their doc with testimonials from chefs, friends, and everyone in between.

The guests paint the portrait of a woman who was more than a cook—she was a cultural revolution wrapped in an apron.

But here’s the juicy center of the roast: Julia Child changed how we cook not by showing us what to do in the kitchen but how to be.

To be fearless, to be joyful, to make mistakes and to say, unapologetically, “Who cares!” And to try and try again.

So, if you’re looking for a documentary that packs the emotional punch of a perfectly seasoned Beef Bourguignon, “Julia” is it.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll definitely leave hungry.

And just maybe, you’ll be inspired to pick up that cookbook gathering dust on your shelf and turn your kitchen into your stage. Just remember, as Julia would say, “Bon Appétit!”

Watch “Julia” on HBO Max at https://play.max.com/movie/f1e4a9d5-da30-4a2c-bf8a-a8a14225787f.

If you don’t have Max, you can rent it on Amazon, YouTube, Apple TV et al — check here for all streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/julia-2021.

10) Selena + Chef

You got it! Here’s a more detailed review of Selena + Chef, packed with specifics:

Selena Gomez has been serving up hits since she was a kid, but in her new HBO Max series Selena + Chef, she’s dishing out something even tastier.

The 10-episode culinary adventure, which premiered on August 13, 2020, invites us into Selena’s kitchen as she learns to cook from the best in the biz.

Each episode, the 29-year-old superstar connects with a different celebrity chef via video chat for a virtual cooking lesson. And let me tell you, these aren’t your average home ec teachers.

Selena is able to recruit legendary chefs as guests.

In the premiere, Selena teams up with Ludo Lefebvre, the French master behind LA hotspots Trois Mec and Petit Trois. He walks her through his classic French omelette, and it’s a hilarious journey of trial and error. She burns the eggs, forgets the chives, and sets off the smoke alarm – twice! But through it all, Ludo is patient, encouraging, and downright adorable.

Other standout episodes include a seafood extravaganza with Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, a vegan ramen crash course with Candice Kumai, and a Mexican fiesta with Aarón Sánchez. Each chef brings their own flavor (pun intended) to the show, sharing personal anecdotes and expert tips.

Wolfgang Puck, the legendary chef behind Spago and CUT, teaches Selena how to make a classic Wiener Schnitzel.

Roy Choi, the food truck pioneer and mastermind behind Kogi BBQ, shows Selena the secrets to his famous Korean BBQ breakfast tacos.

Ayesha Curry (cookbook author, restaurateur and wife of Steph Curry!) guides Selena through a mouthwatering prawn dish with a spicy kick.

Nancy Silverton, the queen of sourdough and co-founder of Mozza Restaurant Group, teaches Selena how to make a show-stopping margherita pizza.

Daniel Holzman, the meatball maestro behind The Meatball Shop, teaches Selena how to roll the perfect meatball.

Jon & Vinny, the dynamic duo behind some of LA’s hottest restaurants, guide Selena through a decadent pasta dish.

Tanya Holland, the soul food queen and owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen, shows Selena how to make her famous buttermilk fried chicken.

Nyesha Arrington, the chef and entrepreneur known for her global flavors, teaches Selena how to make a Korean-inspired braised short rib.

Kwame Onwuachi, the James Beard Award-winning chef and author, guides Selena through a Jamaican beef patty with a flaky crust.

But the real star is Selena herself. She’s not afraid to make mistakes, ask questions, or poke fun at her own culinary shortcomings. She’s relatable, authentic, and just plain fun to watch. Plus, her grandparents make some seriously cute cameos.

Selena + Chef is a delightful reminder that cooking is about more than just following a recipe.

It’s about experimenting, learning, and laughing along the way. So grab a spatula and join the party!

Many people I talked to binged all 10 episodes in one sitting.

And hey, with a second and third season already in the books, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Watch it on HBO Max at https://play.max.com/show/49bae946-fa6a-40c9-8b3b-f83d64d45a89.

If you’re not on Max, check here for the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/selena-chef

11) Chef’s Table: BBQ

This is the BBQ-centric spin-off of “Chef’s Table” (my pick above for the best documentary series).

Here are the 4 chefs they’ve covered so far in Season 1. We’ll see if they do a Season 2.

  1. Tootsie Tomanetz – Season 1, Episode 1:
    • Meet Tootsie, an 85-year-old BBQ legend who’s been stoking fires longer than most chefs have been alive. By day, she’s a custodian in a local school, but come Saturday, she’s the queen of brisket at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Her episode isn’t just a lesson in barbecue—it’s a testament to passion and perseverance.
  2. Lennox Hastie – Season 1, Episode 2:
    • Next up, we jet over to Sydney, Australia, where Lennox Hastie of Firedoor shows us that the best seasoning for fire is… more fire. Specializing in cooking with open flames, Lennox’s technique is as much about timing and temperature as it is about culinary flair. His story is a fiery dance of flavor and flame.
  3. Rodney Scott – Season 1, Episode 3:
    • Swing down to Charleston, South Carolina, to meet Rodney Scott, a whole-hog wizard whose BBQ is a beloved community linchpin. Rodney’s life is steeped in smoke and tradition, turning pork into a shared language of love, labor, and legacy.
  4. Rosalia Chay Chuc – Season 1, Episode 4:
    • Finally, venture into the heart of the Yucatán where Rosalia Chay Chuc keeps Mayan traditions alive through her cochinita pibil—a slow-roasted, spice-infused pork that digs deep into the soul of ancient culinary customs. Her episode is a vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and the most tender pork you’ll ever taste.

Watch Chef’s Table BBQ on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81292974

12) Funke

Chef Evan Funke lives and breathes pasta. In the 2018 documentary “Funke,” we follow his delicious quest to master the art of handmade noodles.

Evan’s journey takes him from L.A. to Italy and back again. He spends countless hours with Italian nonnas, learning the secrets of perfect pasta. In Bologna, he studies tortellini with 80-year-old Alessandra Spisni. In Cento, he learns the art of sfoglia from pasta legend Kosaku Kawamura.

But it’s not all postcard moments. Back in L.A., Evan pours his heart into opening Felix Trattoria in 2017. We’re there for the nerve-wracking opening night, the rave reviews from critics like Jonathan Gold, and the lines out the door.

What drives Evan? A dedication to tradition and craftsmanship. He hand-rolls every strand of tagliatelle, carefully shapes each tortellini. His staff, including sfoglino Noel Martinez, shares his obsession. It’s pasta as art, as a way of life.

But “Funke” is more than a foodie film. It’s about chasing dreams and building community. Evan’s passion inspires his team, his diners, his mentor Kosaku. Food brings people together, and handmade pasta is the delicious glue.

Craving a bowl of cacio e pepe yet? After watching “Funke,” you’ll see pasta in a whole new light. It’s not just flour and water. It’s tradition, love, and a heaping helping of Evan Funke’s infectious enthusiasm. Grab a fork and dig in!

Watch “Funke” on Peacock (with subscription) or rent it on Vudu Fandango or Amazon ($3.99 last I checked). The latest streaming options should be here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/funke

13) We Feed People

The 2022 doc “We Feed People” dives into the heart and soul of José Andrés.

José isn’t your average chef.

Sure, he’s got Michelin stars and James Beard Awards galore.

But what sets him apart is his tireless dedication to feeding the hungry, the displaced, the survivors of disasters.

Through his non-profit World Central Kitchen, founded in 2010, José and his team have served over 60 million meals to those in need.

They cruise to places from earthquake-ravaged Haiti to hurricane-battered Houston to make sure folks are fed. .

The film, directed by Ron Howard, follows José and his team around.

We’re there as they set up makeshift kitchens in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, feeding 150,000 people a day. We watch as they partner with local chefs and volunteers, turning chaos into community.

José’s infectious energy and boundless compassion shine through in every scene.

He’s jacked up on every part of this mission, whether he’s hugging a survivor or rallying his team to cook another 10,000 meals.

“We Feed People” is a must-watch for anyone who believes in the power of food to change lives. It’s a celebration of the chefs, volunteers, and donors who make WCK’s work possible, and a call to action for all of us to find ways to serve our communities.

Watch “Feed the People” on Disney+ or Hulu. The latest streaming options should be here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/we-feed-people

14) Chef’s Table Pizza

Chef’s Table: Pizza dropped on September 7, 2022. The series takes us to Italy, Japan, and the U.S. We meet pizza masters redefining the craft.

Each episode profiles a different pizza virtuoso. Gabriele Bonci in Rome obsesses over quality ingredients. Yoshihiro Imai in Kyoto elevates pizza to art. Chris Bianco in Phoenix pursues perfection in every detail. Ann Kim in Minneapolis pushes pizza’s boundaries. Franco Pepe’s pizzeria in Italy is a pilgrimage site.

The chefs pour heart and soul into each pie. We learn their stories, influences, and challenges. The series is a visual love letter to pizza-making. It shows how simple food becomes art through skill and passion.

Watch it and crave pizza crafted by masters. Your local joint won’t cut it anymore. Get ready for a delicious, inspiring journey.

Watch Chef’s Table Pizza on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81292981

15) 42 Grams

“42 Grams” is a raw, intimate look at chef Jake Bickelhaupt’s obsessive quest for culinary perfection.

The 2017 documentary follows Jake and his wife Alexa as they open a Michelin-starred restaurant in their Chicago apartment.

With no investors or employees, the couple pours everything into their 15-course tasting menu.

Jake forages for ingredients, preps for 16 hours, and plates each dish with tweezers. Alexa serves as hostess, server, and dishwasher.

The film captures the highs of rave reviews and lows of marital strain.

Jake’s temper flares as he chases culinary glory. Alexa struggles with the toll of their 24/7 commitment.

“42 Grams” is a gripping character study and cautionary tale. It shows the price of pursuing passion at all costs.

The dishes are stunningly captured, but it’s the human story that lingers.

In the end, the restaurant closes, a dream dashed.

But “42 Grams” remains a powerful portrait of the fire that drives great chefs, and the sacrifices it demands.

It’s a good watch for food lovers and folks chasing a dream.

Watch 42 Grams for free on Kanopy (with library card) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/42-grams. It’s also on Freevee, Roku and Plex last I checked https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/42-grams

16) A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt

If you’re fascinated by the mind of a chef, “A Matter of Taste” might give you the closest look.

This 2011 documentary is a captivating portrait of Paul Liebrandt, a young, boundary-pushing chef on a quest for culinary greatness.

We follow Paul over the course of a decade as he rises from a 24-year-old wunderkind to a Michelin-starred chef.

His hyper-modern dishes are works of art, but they don’t always find an audience.

We watch as he clashes with restaurant owners, critics, and even his own staff in pursuit of his uncompromising vision.

What makes the film so compelling is how it captures Paul’s creative process.

We’re right there with him as he dreams up dishes, agonizes over plating, and pushes himself to the brink of exhaustion. His dedication is both inspiring and unsettling.

“A Matter of Taste” is a fascinating exploration of the line between genius and madness in the culinary world.

It’ll leave you marveling at Paul’s artistry, and perhaps questioning the price of pursuing perfection.

You’ll never look at a haute cuisine dish the same way again.

The only place to watch this right now is Fandor or Amazon Prime’s Fandor free trial. Check back here for all the streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/a-matter-of-taste-servingup-paul-liebrandt

17) Grace Choy and Choy Choy

Chef Grace Choy in Best Chef Documentaries

Here’s a sweet 21-minute story for anyone wanting to live their dream (especially an aspiring chef!).

Grace grows up a country girl.

Her mom says she was “incapable of competing with city folks”.

But her husband Ken encourages her to open up a private kitchen.

He buys two floors in a building for Grace to build “the fantasy kitchen she’s always dreamed of”.

It’s called ChoyChoy.

It’s got a lava rock BBQ grill, a steamer for fish and meats and espresso machine.

Grace says:

“As long as someone enjoys the process, he or she will be able to concentrate. That’s the most important factor”.

After building the kitchen, she also has the creative idea of sharing the kitchen with others.

The shared kitchen attracts fun customers.

There’s a boyfriend who does a surprise dinner for his girlfriend.

There’s a mom who uses the kitchen for a big dinner party.

Since the documentary, Grace has published a cookbook, “Grace’s 60 Recipes”, and moved to Japan.

In 2019, she launched her ChoyChoy Kitchen restaurant in Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Japan.

She does Hong Kong-style cooking there but with Japanese ingredients.

Her husband Ken does the marketing and social media and Grace is the chef and front person.

She’s thinking about doing a ChoyChoy restaurant in mainland China.

Watch “Grace and Choy Choy for free here: https://www.choychoy.com/storye

18) Wolfgang

“Wolfgang,” the 2021 documentary about the one and only Wolfgang Puck. This delicious film takes you on a journey from Wolfgang’s humble beginnings in Austria to his rise as one of America’s most influential chefs.

We start in the 1950s, where young Wolfgang’s love for cooking is sparked by his mother’s kitchen. But his path to success is rocky, marked by an abusive stepfather and a stint in a kitchen so brutal, it makes Gordon Ramsay look tame. You’ll be rooting for Wolfgang as he finds his way to L.A. in the 1970s, determined to make his mark.

And make his mark he does. We’re there as Wolfgang revolutionizes California cuisine at Ma Maison, dazzles Hollywood stars at Spago, and builds a culinary empire. The film is a feast of archival footage, interviews, and mouth-watering food shots that’ll have you craving a Spago pizza.

But “Wolfgang” is more than just a highlight reel. It’s a portrait of a man driven by passion, innovation, and a tireless work ethic. We see the triumphs and the challenges, the marriages and the divorces, the risks and the rewards. Through it all, Wolfgang’s infectious charm and culinary genius shine through.

Watch “Wolfgang” by renting it from one of the big streamers (last I checked it was on Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu Fandango (for $3.99). It had been on Disney+ but was pulled as of April 2024.

Check here for the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/wolfgang

19) Ramen Heads

“Ramen Heads,” is a 2017 documentary profiling a few ramen chefs.

You’ve got Osamu Tomita, Japan’s reigning king of ramen, as he shares his secrets and samples the competition.

We start in Tomita’s own kitchen, where he crafts his legendary noodles and broth with obsessive precision.

It’s amazing how he blends four different flours and ages his pork bones for days.

His dedication is a testament to the art and science behind every perfect bowl.

But Tomita isn’t the only ramen master in town.

We also meet Shota Iida, a young chef who’s shaking up the scene with his playful, modern takes on classic flavors.

His signature dish, a rich and creamy tonkotsu ramen, is a revelation.

The doc also takes us to the bustling streets of Tokyo, where we encounter a colorful cast of ramen chefs and enthusiasts.

There’s Onishi, the master of tsukemen (dipping noodles), and Kazutoshi Tao, whose shop has been a local legend for over 50 years.

Each chef brings their own personality and passion to the bowl.

But what sets “Ramen Heads” apart is how it shows that a simple bowl of noodles can bring people together.

Ramen attracts everyone from the late-night salarymen to food-obsessed tourists.

Ramen isn’t just a dish; it’s a way of life.

It’ll leave you craving a bowl of steaming noodles and broth, and perhaps inspire you to seek out your own perfect ramen.

Just be warned: you may never look at instant noodles the same way again!

Watch Ramen Heads for free on Kanopy (requires library card or student ID) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/ramen-heads

Check back here for other streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/ramen-heads

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly

Chief Maniac, Daily Doc