9 Food Documentaries That Will Change How You See Food

by Kaila Stein
May 9, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Looking for some foodspiration to get you out of that Seamless rut? Or maybe you just need some entertainment to pair with your pizza? You’re in luck.

These nine documentaries will spark culinary creativity, inspiring you to try new cuisines and think about the food you eat with a fresh set of eyes. From Israel to the Philippines to downtown Los Angeles, these films travel around the globe to showcase diverse food cultures and the chefs and innovators behind it all.

1 /9: 'In Search of Israeli Cuisine'

1/9 :'In Search of Israeli Cuisine'

Michael Solomonov, award-winning chef of Philadelphia's Zahav restaurant, takes us on a journey across Israel in search of what defines Israeli cuisine.

That's no easy feat for a country that's less than a century old that's cuisine has been shaped by an influx of immigrants from places including Yemen, Iraq, North Africa, Turkey and Eastern Europe (to name a few).

Solomonov, who was born in Israel, explores colorful marketplaces, fine dining restaurants, seaside towns and farms across Israel, talking to chefs about their processes. In Search of Israeli Cuisine is playing now in select theaters.

2 /9: 'Cooked'

2/9 :'Cooked'

This Netflix docu-series is based on food writer Michael Pollan’s 2013 book, which explores food history through the four elements — fire, water, air, earth.

Pollan travels all over the world trying his hand at baking, brewing, and braising as he tells the history of cooking and warns of the dangerous trend that fewer people are actually preparing food for themselves.  

3 /9: 'City of Gold'

3/9 :'City of Gold'

Ever wonder what it’s like to eat in the best restaurants — and get paid for it? City of Gold follows affable Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold as he eats his way through the City of Stars.

Though Gold frequents his fair share of fine-dining establishments, his heart lies in the strip mall gems, taco trucks and pho shops that make up Los Angeles’ culturally diverse food scene.

“The idea of celebrating the glorious mosaic of the city on somebody else’s dime, I kept feeling as if I was getting away with something,” Gold says. City of Gold is now available to stream on Hulu.

4 /9: 'Forks Over Knives'

4/9 :'Forks Over Knives'

Forks Over Knives makes the compelling and scientific case for banishing meat and dairy from our diet. This film, available to stream now on Netflix, purports that health problems such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes can be avoided by following a diet comprised of vegetables and whole grains.

You'll hear from doctors about their extensive medical research (and scary statistics) on the harmful effects of meat and dairy and learn about the steady decline of diets worldwide. Get that cheeseburger in before watching this film, because you’ll never want to eat one again.

5 /9: 'Chef's Table' Season 3

5/9 :'Chef's Table' Season 3

If you haven't yet gotten sucked into Netflix’s docu-series Chef’s Table, you’re missing out. The series is like Planet Earth for foodies: Get ready for dizzyingly beautiful food footage and “how did they do that?” moments.

Season 3 does not disappoint, as it brings more captivating stories of insanely talented chefs from around the world. Chef’s Table is available to stream now on Netflix. (And when you’re done bingeing on this, check out Jeff’s Table for an illuminating look at the PB&J).

6 /9: 'Food, Inc.'

6/9 :'Food, Inc.'

Food Inc. is an eye-opening and often infuriating look inside how giant corporations have taken over all aspects of food production in the United States and the devastating effects mass production has had on our food system.

Sick animals, environmental deterioration, unhealthy food, and health issues are just a few of the results of our high efficiency, low-cost system of food production.

This film could easily be classified in the horror genre. Maybe skip the popcorn and red wines while watching this documentary, which is available to stream now on Netflix.

7 /9: 'Ulam'

7/9 :'Ulam'

Ulam (Main Dish) is a new documentary about the rise of Filipino cuisine in America.

The film profiles the innovative chefs and restaurateurs behind the rise of the Filipino food movement and documents the hurdles they faced bringing the cuisine of the Philippines to main-stage American dining. Ulam previews in LA on May 20.

8/9 :'Somm'

Here’s a film for all you wine-swirlers and -sniffers. Somm tells the story of four sommeliers studying for the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, one of the world’s most difficult tests.

You might want to uncork something a little classier than your Two Buck Chuck while watching this award-winning documentary, which is available to stream now on Netflix.

9 /9: 'Cowspiracy'

9/9 :'Cowspiracy'

This documentary is based on the idea that the greatest environmental threat to the planet is that steak you had for dinner. That’s right, the number one environmental problem according to Cowspiracy is the agriculture industry.

The film explores how the agriculture industry is responsible for deforestation, water pollution, and more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. You might need some meatless dinner inspo after watching this film.

Cowspiracy is available to stream now on Netflix.