Whether you’re looking for a new culinary competition to get sucked into, or simply searching for a pleasant, food-filled distraction to help you chill out this weekend, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is here to help. This UK show, which landed stateside a few months ago to little fanfare, feels like one of Netflix’s best-kept secrets.
As you might guess from the name and cozy-in-the-country vibe of the show, this is a sister program to The Great British Bake Off. Like that show, features sweet people cooking their hearts out, kind-but-firm judges critiquing their work, and upbeat hosts highlighting the human drama unfolding in front of the camera. But what sets this show apart from its predecessor is the way that it celebrates the art and experience of home cooking.
Each episode features two families competing against each other in three segments: a “£10 challenge,” a home kitchen round, and an “impress the neighbors” meal. Most of the families serve a mixture of time-tested dishes and recipes that veer just a little bit outside of their comfort zones. It’s clear that everyone loves cooking and pushing themselves to prepare something that will make their families proud: The greatest moments, by far, are watching the judges tell the teams that they may have made a few mistakes along the way, but their food is still totally delicious.
A large part of the Cooking Showdown’s success can be attributed to the charm of its cast. The show’s hosts, actress/radio personality Zoë Ball and Bake Off Season 6 winner Nadiya Hussain, interact with the competitors with the affable, easygoing spirit of old friends who are catching up over coffee. Judges Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager — he’s a Michelin-recognized chef, and she’s a fixture of UK food shows — approach each dish with enthusiasm, and temper their criticism with equal amounts of praise for the effort displayed in the kitchen.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown may be the only culinary competition where heart and soul matter more than precision and ingenuity. All 12 episodes of Season 1 are now available to watch on Netflix.
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