Gastronomic and Healthy Food Documentaries that will whet your appetite

Nov. 22, 2023


In recent years, culinary documentaries have risen in popularity, tantalizing the taste buds of food enthusiasts and cinephiles alike. These films do more than showcase delicious dishes; they delve into the stories behind the food, exploring cultural heritage, tradition, and the passionate individuals who devote their lives to the culinary arts. They are a feast for the eyes and the soul, enriching our understanding and appreciation of global cuisines.


Culinary documentaries, available on platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and GuideDoc, offer viewers a seat at the world's most diverse culinary tables. From street food stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants, these films uncover the essence of what makes food an integral part of our lives. They often intertwine personal stories with culinary mastery, revealing how food can be a powerful medium for storytelling, connection, and cultural expression.


The allure of culinary documentaries lies in their ability to connect us with different cultures and experiences through the universal language of food. They challenge us to look beyond the plate, considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of our food choices. These films entertain educate and inspire us to explore new flavors and rethink our relationship with food.


Top Ten Must-Watch Culinary Documentaries:



The Gateway Bug

a man puts a spoonful of insects in his mouth

In a world where over two billion people incorporate insects into their diets for protein, this documentary delves into the intriguing yet tumultuous journey of America's edible insect start-ups. As it explores the nation's estrangement from sustainable food practices amidst escalating climate crises, the film offers a compelling narrative on how individual dietary choices can mend our fractured food system, one meal at a time. Through its vivid portrayal of climate-impacted communities, the documentary not only enlightens but also inspires viewers to become proactive agents of environmental and social change. The narrative weaves through diverse settings, from bustling cricket farms in the American Rust Belt to vibrant insect-eating festivals in Austin, capturing the essence of a movement that challenges conventional food norms. Featuring insightful interviews with experts from the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Climate Foundation, and acclaimed TV chef Andrew Zimmern, the film is a groundbreaking exploration of how embracing alternative protein sources like insects could be a key solution in our fight against climate change.


The Story of the Pig

pigs and a man hand

In this uniquely crafted documentary, audiences are introduced to a fascinating and humorous narrative voiced by an unexpected protagonist: the metaphorical pig within every human. Although the narration emerges from a human voice, rugged and distinct, the film's perspective is ingeniously centered on a pig's life experiences, intricately interwoven with human behaviors and customs. This inventive approach offers a whimsical yet insightful exploration into the psyche of an animal that has significantly influenced human culture and cuisine. As the film delves into the rich tapestry of myths, rituals, and symbolic significance surrounding the pig, it transforms into an enlightening essay on humanity's intricate relationship with animals. The documentary skillfully uses the pig's perspective as a mirror, reflecting broader themes about our societal practices and beliefs. By journeying through the historical and cultural landscapes shaped by this curly-tailed creature, the film ultimately reveals more about human nature than the porcine subject itself, offering viewers a chance to reflect on their place in the natural world.


Sugar & Spice

a man on a coconut tree.

In her student film, showcased at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), director Mi Mi Lwin offers an intimate portrayal of her family's life in Nyaung Oo Township, situated in the central dry zone of Mandalay Division, Myanmar. The daughter of toddy palm farmers, Lwin captures the essence of her parents' daily struggle to make ends meet by producing 'jaggery' sweets from palm syrup. The film stands out for its honest and transparent depiction of the family's perseverance and the challenges they face, providing a unique glimpse into a lifestyle shaped by traditional farming practices in Myanmar.


God Bless The Cook

a table with photos and food white letters

Chef Roslyn Spence, a distinguished figure in the culinary world, is renowned not only for her training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris but also for her culinary expertise that has delighted some of Hollywood's most illustrious stars. Despite her professional acclaim and high-profile clientele, Spence's most discerning and straightforward critic is her mother. Aged 94, her mother is a self-taught cook whose bold honesty and culinary wisdom have continually influenced and challenged Spence, keeping her grounded and connected to her roots. This dynamic, encapsulating a blend of professional excellence and familial ties, adds a unique and personal dimension to Chef Spence's journey in the world of high cuisine.


The Rite

a pig hanging on a balcony

In this thought-provoking documentary, director Fabrizio Condino, a graduate of the esteemed Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, adopts an observational lens to document the life of a farming family in southern Italy. Centered around the annual pig-killing ritual, a practice integral to their sustenance and food traditions, the film offers an unfiltered glimpse into the family's daily life and the moments encapsulating this age-old rite. Condino's approach in portraying this event is raw and unvarnished, potentially evoking strong reactions from viewers due to the graphic nature of the images. His work invites audiences to engage with the stark realities of rural life, the traditions that sustain it, and the often challenging aspects of food production rarely seen in the urban world.


Chef's Table

a table full of plates of food

This Emmy-nominated series profiles culinary stars around the world, giving viewers an inside look at the lives and kitchens of these talented individuals. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique approach to cooking, highlighting their pursuit of culinary excellence and the impact of their cultural backgrounds on their cooking philosophy.


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

chefs working

This beautifully shot documentary revolves around 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearance, it is the first of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3-star Michelin review. The film explores Jiro's relentless drive for perfection, the training of his son as his successor, and the artistry behind creating the perfect piece of sushi.


Street Food: Asia

a street food stall and fire

From the creators of "Chef's Table," this series takes to the streets for a culinary journey through Asia. It explores the rich culture of street food in cities across the continent, from Bangkok to Osaka. Each episode highlights the stories of perseverance and tradition that bring life to each country's cuisine, offering a vibrant and intimate look at the people behind the dishes.



a red-haired man smells a glass of red wine

This fascinating documentary takes viewers on a journey with four sommeliers as they attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. It's a gripping look into the world of wine, full of suspense and emotion, as it reveals the immense knowledge and dedication required in the art of wine tasting and pairing.


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

a black-haired woman puts her ear to a pot

Based on Samin Nosrat's best-selling book, this series explores the four basic elements that make food delicious. Nosrat travels the world, from Italy to Japan, to explore how these elements can lead to a better understanding of cooking. Along with stunning cinematography, the series offers a delightful and educational experience that encourages viewers to get into the kitchen and explore these fundamental elements themselves.



In the words of the great Julia Child, "People who love to eat are always the best people." These culinary documentaries remind us that food is more than sustenance; it's a form of art, expression, and connection. They invite us to explore new cuisines, appreciate the labor behind our meals, and bring more love and creativity into our cooking. So, next time you're wondering what to watch, let your palate guide you to these delectable documentaries.


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