I’m Obsessed with These 3 British Cooking Shows (& None of Them Is ‘The Great British Bake Off’)
If you’ve been scrolling through Netflix or asking family and friends for TV show recommendations over the past few months, the Great British Baking Show has probably come across your radar more than once. And while I’ll admit I’ve watched my fair share of the competition series, I am likely in the minority that will argue in favor of other U.K.-based television shows (gasp!).
Before anyone gets defensive, let me make one thing clear. I enjoyed the show overall (and yes, like you I am actively keeping up with the new season). However, I find that as the show has progressed, I have gradually begun to lose interest. Perhaps it’s the fact that my baking ability doesn’t extend beyond cutting slices of Toll-House cookie dough and placing them on a baking sheet. Or the fact that Mary Berry’s exit—who I believe is the U.K’s closest thing to Ina Garten—left the show forever changed.
Nonetheless, TGBBS successfully piqued my interest in other British food-focused shows—a genre that I didn’t know existed in the world of content streaming. In fact, in the last two months alone I have binged a total of three other U.K-based reality food shows—plus a bonus international series—and done practically nothing else. (OK, besides work. Yet, let me point out that here I am writing about it for work...).
So, if you’re like me and you’re having a bit of baking fatigue so to speak, allow me to introduce you to the three other series in my life. And who knows—maybe you’ll even be inspired to experiment beyond Toll-House.
1. ‘million pound menu’
Why I love it: What does it take to create a successful restaurant business these days? According to BBC’s Million Pound Menu, a great idea, passionate chefs and an investor ready to jump on board. And that’s exactly the idea behind the show. Each episode features a handful of the U.K’s most successful investors and business people who are looking for the next great project to get involved in. So, it’s up to new-gen restaurants to plead their case and show their potential business partners what they can do with two days at a pop-up in Manchester. While the series may sound stressful, there’s actually no drama—just kind Brits supporting other kind Brits. And it’s currently my go-to bedtime show.
2. ‘THE BIG FAMILY COOKING SHOWDOWN’
Why I love it: If you absolutely love the TGBBS, this is pretty much the closest you can get to the actual thing. Like its predecessor, the series is an all-in-good-fun competition that barely feels like a competition at all. However, this one is more family focused and features a variety of families working as teams and cooking together to win the title of Britain's Best Home Cooks. It’s also worth mentioning that season one is actually hosted by Great British Baking Show alum and winner Nadiya Hussain. Plus, we could all use a little extra family time right now, even if that means we need to watch strangers and their loved ones on TV.
3. ‘CRAZY DELICIOUS’
Why I love it: I’ll admit it, this is likely my least favorite of the bunch, which doesn’t say much because I still watched the entire season. Packed with themes of magic and fantasy, Crazy Delicious is kind of what I would imagine taking a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory would be like. You know, the version with Gene Wilder and not Johnny Depp’s interesting take on the character. Seriously, the contestants forage their own food from the magical-like woods to try and win over the “food Gods” in hopes of taking home the golden apple. You really can’t make this stuff up.
4. BONUS: ‘Restaurants on the edge’
Why I love it: I’m throwing this one in here as a little bit of a wild card because although it is not specific to the U.K., each episode takes place in a new country, the majority of which are European. In this series, three experts in the food (and design) industry travel to restaurants with breathtaking views that are literally “on the edge” of closing down. The show gives off some Bar Rescue vibes without the intensity, stress and incredibly invasive voice of John Taffer. While the series is technically about food, it also carries an overall theme of the importance of community and bringing people together. Not to mention, each location is more gorgeous than the next. So you can fulfill your wanderlust by visiting Malta, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Austria, Slovenia, Finland and more without leaving the comfort of your own couch.
P.S. if this one tickles your fancy I also recommend trying Netflix’s The Final Table.