Cooking shows were the first reality television programs, long before the category even existed. Their popularity is such that today TV outlets such as the Cooking Channel and Food Network are solely devoted to the insatiable desires and whims of foodies everywhere.
To determine the modern day cooking shows audiences like best, 24/7 Tempo reviewed audience ratings on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. Cooking instruction, cooking competition, and food-based travel shows were ranked based on IMDb user ratings as of August 2022. In the case of a tie, the show with more votes was ranked higher. Only shows with at least 500 user votes were considered, which ruled out well-loved earlier shows hosted by such culinary icons as Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Emeril Lagasse, which few IMDb users have rated. (Cast information also came from IMDb.)
Cooking shows are popular for many reasons. In contrast to other television genres, they are not as expensive to produce. Food also is an evocative way to lean into a particular nation’s culture, as shown by such series as “Chef’s Table” and “Ugly Delicious,” or to travel vicariously, as with “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”
In addition, competitive cooking shows like “The Great British Baking Show” and “Iron Chef” get audiences to root for or against a contestant, while instructional shows, including “The Pioneer Woman,” pass along recipes that for the most part are not too complicated. (Here are 23 surprising cooking tips you learn at culinary school.)
Many of these cooking shows have legs, and have been on television for more than 10 years, among them “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Top Chef,” and “Food Network Star.” (Here’s a look at the best TV show released the year you were born.)
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