Food TV in 2022 – the good, the bad, and the ugly

When the Food Network debuted in 1993, it quickly became a go-to for food loving people who flocked to their TV sets to see shows that celebrated their favorite pastimes of cooking and eating. The network (which owes a lot of debt to public television programming) then spurred other cable television channels to put forth their own shows. When streaming services began offering their own productions, food shows were a necessity. So in 2022, we should be surrounded by a surfeit of high quality culinary programs, right? According to Eater’s Amy McCarthy, that is sadly not the case.

Outside of FX’s The Bear, McCarthy says that most small screen food shows missed the mark. Some are getting a bit long in the teeth (Top Chef and even our beloved GBBO) and are having trouble exciting even longtime fans, while others are downright bizarre. Says McCarthy, “Instead of focusing on talented chefs making great dishes, TV producers decided to push chefs to the extreme, subjecting them to increasingly bizarre cooking conditions.” Shows like Easy-Bake Battle and Is It Cake? wore thin after a few episodes.

There were a few bright spots, however. McCarthy called out Chef’s Table: Pizza and Be My Guest with Ina Garten as shows worth watching. I have to agree that food programs do not capture my interest as they once did. I gave up on Top Chef after I moved to another state several years ago and left my TV behind. I avoided most culinary competition shows that emerged in recent years because I found them over the top or too scripted, although the pandemic did spur me to watch (and fall in love with) The Great British Bake Off. But as McCarthy said, even that program is starting to lose its charm although I am not yet ready to write it off. Did you have any food shows in 2022 that were a ‘must-watch’?

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  • Lsblackburn1  on  December 13, 2022

    I still enjoy Chopped! I’ll watch it when I get home from work on on-demand and often it’s just what I need to inspire me to make dinner. I’ve tried a couple of the new shows but the whole chef-as-celebrity gets pretty tiresome. Their (fake?) intensity can be annoying.

  •  on  December 14, 2022

    I like watching Zoe Bakes. Her bakes are thing you would actually make and she introduces techniques that are helpful to know. Although parts of the show seem scripted, overall I enjoy watching her bake.

  • jzeh  on  December 14, 2022

    I still enjoy watching the traditional cooking show that teaches me something. The competition shows are getting more and more bizarre and for the most part a waste of time. PBS is still my “go to” , I seldom watch the Food Network.

  • matag  on  December 14, 2022

    I’d rather watch reruns of Julia, Emeril or even Justin Wilson. Just show me how to cook something please.

  • love2laf  on  December 14, 2022

    Happily delighted by Selena & Chef, the positives far outweigh the negatives for me. At it’s heart it’s a chef teaching Selena Gomez to cook a meal of one or more dishes, and to keep her from using her knife in a dangerously wrong manner. Bonus is the $10 K donation to the chef’s charity of choice.

    Not 2022, but Padma Lakshmi’s Taste The Nation from 2020-21 was amazing to watch and learn from. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on her face as she got to cook with Madhur Jaffrey, she was just so excited and overawed, it was a wonder to watch.

  • averythingcooks  on  December 14, 2022

    A few thoughts from this post:

    * Where have all the real cooking shows gone? Too expensive to produce now?
    * I do like certain Christmas specials including Jamie Oliver’s holiday series….lots of good ideas there
    * We recently binged “The Bear” and loved it!
    * I have been a fan of Top Chef Canada since season one but the most recent season was bit disjointed – great moments interspersed by “weird, supposed to add tension but not so effective” ones…perhaps at 10 seasons it has run its course?
    * the Nathan Lane episode of Ina’s Be My Guest was wonderful – I’m an even bigger fan of his than before
    * and lastly…Master Chef Canada has triggered my partner T to yell “You have 2 minutes chef – get it on the plate!” on random nights during dinner prep

  • Indio32  on  December 15, 2022

    Talking about here in the UK it’s pretty dire. The UK Food Network just seems to endlessly repeat the same handful of US imports ad infinitum coupled with a huge smattering of James Martin. Most other channels just seem to show repeats…. all of Rick Stein’s series seem to be on some channel somewhere….. daily.

    To end on a more positive note one food series that has stood head and shoulders above everything else this year and maybe even in the last couple of years is Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy.

  • redbird  on  December 15, 2022

    I agree that Tucci’s Searching for Italy is great. My favorite food show though is one on an unexpected network — ESPN’s SEC Network. John T. Edge (of the Southern Foodways Alliance) hosts a series called True South which explores the food culture and restaurants of the American South. It’s in its fifth season but there are only four or five episodes per season.

  • kprovost  on  December 16, 2022

    I’m so frustrated with Food Network and the Cooking Channel. What happened to all of the cooking shows where people actually cook? Who is watching all of these scripted ‘competition’ shows and shows where the celebrity chef searches out restaurants or dishes in different cities? Zoe Bakes is great because she actually teaches you something along the way. I also tend to learn from Molly Yeh, Joanna Gaines, and Ina Garten. I wish we were able to watch Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson’s shows here in the US.

  • Ceribells  on  December 18, 2022

    GBBO has become much more about presentation and awe, just like every other show. I think it’s because they don’t really repeat prompts from past seasons. The earlier seasons truly tested how well the contestants could plan and execute bakes, basically with home-baker skills and techniques and recognizable (if unusual) recipes. I actually learned a lot those first few seasons.
    Please no more cake encased in sugar domes, anything hanging, rainbow bagels, “vertical tarts,” weird boutique bakery stuff nobody’s heard of with entirely subjective qualities.

  • mjes  on  December 18, 2022

    I enjoyed Top Chef Family Style for the sheer joy of watching people interacting – the overbearing Mother who adjusted another child’s sauce, the uncle so happy that his niece had finally found friendly peers, . . . Finally, competition where the kids get to be kids and the adults get to be adults. And the resulting food was realistic … good family food of extraordinary quality for the age and training of the cooks but still something actual people could possibly achieve.

  • KarenGlad  on  December 18, 2022

    I’m with everyone else who has commented here….I rarely watch the Food Network (I’m Canadian) anymore. I’ve never been a fan of the competition type shows other than the British and Canadian bake off series. I really don’t care what you can do with someone else’s cart of groceries. The Magnolia network and American PBS are where I’m tuning in to most times now. I like a traditional cooking show like Zoe, Ina, Lydia and Jamie, or Canadians Mary Berg and Anna Olson. I do love the Feeding Phil series and Stanley Tucci of course but apparently he’s not renewed for another season, which is really disappointing. Bobby Flay in Italy with Giada or eating out with Sophie were entertaining too.

  • cadfael  on  December 18, 2022

    I don’t care for their choices of shows, a lot with cheap production values. They can’t compare to the quality cooking shows on PBS I get from Boston and Detroit. I live in Canada and I keep my cable subscription mainly for PBS and the news. I have next to given up on the FN. PBS has quality shows, respected chefs, good instructional features for the dedicated cook.

  • thewoobdog  on  January 17, 2023

    Oddly enough, I actually always enjoy Struggle Meals, although I rarely get a chance to watch TV these days.

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