Summer is hurdling at us faster than hipsters flocking to a vintage flannel sale in Williamsburg, which means the time to prepare is nigh. No longer can you get away with making a Lasagna, a Sunday Sauce, or a Chili for your friends when they visit. The time for one pot meals is behind us and we are staring directly into the heart of the most epic and somewhat daunting cooking season there is. That is right people, this is not a drill! It is time to buy way to much food, invite a shit-ton of people over, drink heavily (But Responsibly…Stupid Lawyers!), light inappropriately large (But Manageable…I H8 Lawyers) fires in your suburban back yards, and grill, damn you, grill, until all of your guests tap out like the late great Kimbo Slice in rear naked choke.
For those of you that saw the title of this post and thought it was going to be about which movies are the best to watch while you Netflix and Chill, I apologize. For those of you that don’t exactly know what Netflix and Chill means and just clicked the link above to find out, I am looking at you Mom, have no fear, there is no porn here.
This post is about the Top 5 titles on Netflix to Binge Watch prior to the start of summer to get your creative juices flowing and assist you in formulating a plan for each and every backyard get together that is in your future. There will always be a place on my grill for burgers and dogs, but to supplement those staples, I like to go off-book and the following shows get me “in the mood”, so without further ado let’s Netflix and Grill!
5: Chef (2014)
This feature length film is for everyone that hates documentary style movies and television shows. I for one can watch a Chef wield a knife, talk about the perfect turnip, and pontificate about the need for 300 varieties of rice for hours on end, but I understand that those types of shows are not for everyone. This 2014 Dramedy is about a prominent Chef that loses his job and decides to open a food truck to reclaim his culinary passion and spend some quality time with his son. The cast is a recipe for awesomesauce as Jon Favreau and John Leguizamo add a cup of comedy, Sofia Vergara throws in a bunch of Tablespoons of Sexy, and Emjay Anthony steals the show with more than a pinch of epic acting. After watching Chef, if you don’t know why you started cooking, hang up your tongs, turn off the gas, and get the fuck away from the grill.
4: Cooked (2016)
Quite the opposite of my first selection, Cooked is the epitome of Documentaries, but that is exactly why I freaking love it. This four episode mini-series is based on Michael Pollan’s 2013 book, by the same name, and discusses how varying cooking techniques impacted mankind and transformed the world as we know it. Each episode is named after one of the four basic elements of nature; Fire, Water, Air, and Earth to further drive home the deep connection between our evolution and the food of our ancestors, predecessors, and ourselves. After watching the Fire episode, Episode 1, you will want to kick your Grill’s tires, let some fires, and sear something that was recently slaughtered, but if you are anything like me you will have to binge watch the rest of the episodes first.
3: Good Eats (1999-2012)
The host of this oldie but goodie, Alton Brown, is a combination of Julia Child, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mr. Rogers, and Pee Wee Herman. Good Eats, at times maybe funny, satirical, and nostalgic, but it is always informative and educational. Whenever I am cooking something for the first time I turn to Mr. Brown, because he does not just give you a recipe like all the other Chef’s kicking around your cable box, he explains why and how the given ingredients in that recipe work. Good Eats doesn’t focus on what you cook, it concentrates on teaching you how to cook, and that is why is the perfect show to watch before manning your meat maker. As of right now the only episodes that are available on Netflix Streaming is a selection of 25 episodes called the Good Eats Collection, but that should be enough to give you some solid ideas for your future backyard Soirees.
2: Mind of a Chef (2012- )
Thanks to Executive Producer/Culinary Cowboy/Narrator Anthony Bourdain and PBS, Mind of a Chef entered our lives in 2012. Wait…Wait…Wait… come back, PBS is so much more than Opera and Pledge Drives. This revolutionary show feels as if the producers gave some of the most innovative Chefs in the world a camera crew, a kitchen, and a Black AMEX and said, “show us why you became a foodie.” What came from this magnificent concept is a show that truly allows you enter the mindset of Chefs that are changing the very culture of cooking, one dish at a time. You begin to identify with the Chefs that are showcased as well as see how their influences, hardships, cultural backgrounds, and relationships shaped them into the culinary juggernauts that they are today. “Enter the Mind Of A Chef.”
1: Chef’s Table (2015- )
If inspiration is what you are after, look no further than this gastronomic Netflix Original Series. Each episode introduces you to one of the world’s most renowned Chefs and invites you into their unique culinary world. The show includes an in-depth tour of the world’s best restaurants, stunning food porn; detailing the remarkable food these establishments serve, and of course a glimpse into the Chef’s inspiration, passion, and life experiences. After watching this awe-inspiring documentary one cannot help but be motivated to create food that not only tastes good, but looks as beautiful as any piece of art hanging in the Louvre. *Warning* By watching this show, you will add several restaurants to your Dine Before Death list and none of them are inexpensive.
There you have it folks. The Blue Collar Foodie’s Netflix and Grill list. Now get to binge watching because a backyard barbecue without creativeness is as enjoyable as drinking a non-alcoholic beer on a Saturday Night while you Netflix and Chill sans partner.