Must-See TV: The Best Cooking Shows to Watch When It's Too Hot to Leave Home

Rick Bayless, Marcella Valladolid and Aaron Sanchez
Paul Elledge (left); J. Robert Schraeder (right)

It’s official. We’re in the dog days of summer, and while picnics, barbecues, and poolside margaritas are fun in theory, there are times when it’s so freakin’ hot out that leaving the comfort of your cool, climate-controlled home – how did we survive before air-con? – is unthinkable. What to do? Watch TV, of course. But not just any TV: food TV!

Thanks to early cooking show hosts Nitza Villapol, James Beard and Julia Child, there is now a food-related reality TV show for every imaginable audience. Below are our picks for best cooking shows to watch this summer. (And don’t worry; we won’t tell if you don’t actually use your oven again until October.) Happy viewing!


Food Fighters

One part cooking competition, one part game show, the recently premiered Food Fighters pits amateur home cooks against celebrity chefs. The challenge? Prepare the home cook’s signature dish. The reward? A cash prize that increases every time the amateur outcooks the pros. Adam Richman of The Travel Channel’s Man v. Food hosts. Of Food Fighters, celebrity chef Lorena Garcia (one of five pro chef challengers) told that, although she’s a competitor, she’s also rooting for the contestants to win the grand prize. “I am sure this money can make a huge difference in their lives,” said Garcia. Food Fighters airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.


Taco Trip

Though not a series, this one-hour special is worth checking out, thanks in large part to its host. In Taco Trip, Chef Aaron Sanchez, the tattooed charmer best known for his co-hosting of Heat Seekers and numerous appearances on The Food Network’s Chopped, is approachable, curious, and charismatic. He’s also inspired by – which inspires us – the creative tacos he encounters on his cross-country adventure, among them tacos de cecina and mahi mahi a la plancha. Check the Cooking Channel and its website for replays. (Original air date: April 27, 2014)


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