Food Shows Worth Watching


So many of our favorite shows have come to an end — we're still recovering from the final episodes of “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey,” and some baby boomers are even still reeling from the end of “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “The Sopranos.” Yes, these shows were addictive and had characters galore, but movies and documentaries about food are where real character development takes root. Need a few suggestions? Try: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” about an 85-year old sushi master who runs a world-class restaurant in a subway station;

 “For Grace,” about a chef and the challenges he encounters on the way to becoming one of the most lauded American chefs; “Big Night,” about a dinner party to top all dinner parties and starring the inimitable Stanley Tucci; “Babette's Feast,” a slow- moving and intense look at life in a stoic setting (if you don't speak Danish, read the subtitles); “The Trip,” with British superstar Steve Coogan traveling through the country doing some serious fine dining with a pal (if deadpan barbs and bantering is your style, this is for you); “Julia & Julia,” in which a woman cooks all of Julia Child's recipes, which takes quite a toll on her relationships; and the hilarious animated “Ratatouille,”about animals living underneath a restaurant in Paris (it's in English) — it is targeted toward a young audience, but adults will enjoy it, too.

“Chef's Table” is a documentary series featuring some of the world’s top chefs and the lengths they go in pursuit of culinary genius. For the wine aficionados, “Somm” (short for “sommelier”) is an insider's look at what it takes to be a master sommelier — it pays to pay attention in geography class after all. Anthony Bourdain's series “Parts Unknown” is always intriguing, whether you're a fan of Korean silk worm larva soup or not, and is now in its fifth season. A standout documentary is “Spinning Plates,” which follows the stories of three restaurants at opposite ends of the culinary spectrum, including Grant Achatz' Alinea, and portrays the joys and setbacks they all encounter.