With much of the country and world self-isolating at home, many people are turning to cooking and baking for comfort or simply to pass the time. Neighbors are swapping sourdough starter as neophytes decide this is the perfect time to try their hand at baking bread. (Eater has reported that there has been a surge in Google searches about bread recently.)
As part of WTTW and PBS's recent focus on food and family, two new programs about food premiere on Friday, March 27. Somewhere South is Chef Vivian Howard's follow-up to the acclaimed A Chef's Life. In the new, six-part series, she explores the connections across cultures that can be found in modern Southern cooking, from different types of dumplings, pickles, and porridges, which can all be found in everything from African to Asian to Southern cuisines.
Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious Documentary follows the respected chef Patrick O'Connell and his devoted staff as they try to garner a third Michelin star for their intimate restaurant and inn in rural Virginia, a recognition that requires the utmost attention to detail.
If those two programs don't satisfy your culinary itch, we have plenty more food-related shows available to stream. Here are a few.
Note: If you are someone who loves food and restaurants: the food industry is struggling right now, given that restaurants across the country have been ordered closed. The website Dining at a Distance has a list of restaurants offering take-out and delivery, which can help support them to an extent. Eater has rounded up various relief funds you can donate to. And many individual restaurants have set up their own GoFundMe pages, or are selling gift certificates and merchandise to help tide them over.
Flavor of Poland has garnered tons of attention in its first season, perhaps because it not only explores a cuisine unfamiliar to many Americans, but also does so through the lens of the culture, history, and geography of Poland. Host Aleksandra August travels through Poland, then returns to her home kitchen and cooks some of the recipes she has discovered there.
Try your own hand at one of August's recipes: a Kraków-Style Roasted Duck from her grandmother.
In No Passport Required, Chef Marcus Samuelsson explores established immigrant communities in various American cities, discovering their culture through their food. Join him as he meets Filipinos in Seattle, Armenians in Los Angeles, West Africans in Houston, and more. The second season, which aired earlier this year, is available to stream for free, while WTTW Passport members can stream the first season, including an episode featuring Chicago's Mexican community.
While Chicago's restaurants and bars are currently closed, you can virtually tour a small but vibrant subsection of them with WTTW's profiles of five restaurants along a half-mile stretch of Lawrence Avenue.
Rick Bayless has long been one of the most recognized chefs in Chicago and the country, with numerous acclaimed restaurants, books, and his TV show Mexico: One Plate at a Time. In the latest season, which is available to stream, he explores some of Mexico City's most classic dishes.
You can try one of them, with Bayless's recipe for Pollo in Pipián Verde, a green mole.
If you can't wait for Somewhere South, all five seasons of Vivian Howard's previous show A Chef's Life are available to stream. It's chock-full of Southern charm and recipes—including some you can try, for pickled beets and Texas caviar.
You could plan an ambitious, themed meal with help from some of Chicago's top chefs (including Rick Bayless, Parachute's Beverly Kim, and Tony Mantuano, formerly of Spiaggia): in three episodes of the WTTW-produced Dishalicious, host Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde joined three other chefs to make a three-course meal plus a small bite. One episode focuses on Korean food, another on Mexican, and a third on Italian.
Find recipes at wttw.com/dishalicious.
For shorter, direct recipe help, try Kitchen Vignettes, a series of video blogs by organic gardener and home cook Aube Giroux. You'll get plenty of fresh produce, as well as beautiful shots and delicious recipes.
Like Kitchen Vignettes, three WTTW digital series are more bite-size. Foodphiles introduces you to some Chicagoans devoted to various aspects of the food industry, from foraging to roasting coffee to serving goat. Chefs off the Clock shows what ten accomplished chefs do to relax in their scant free time outside the kitchen. And Chat, Please! features conversations between the creator of Check, Please! and veterans from every aspect of Chicago’s restaurant world.
Given self-isolation measures, sometimes it can be comforting just to hear a great conversation and watch people share their passion. Dishing with Julia Child features various chefs discussing the influence of Julia Child and some of her most beloved TV episodes. You can watch the PBS stars Marcus Samuelsson and Vivian Howard together, other chefs who have appeared on PBS (Martha Stewart, Jacques Pépin, Rick Bayless), and other celebrities like José Andres and Eric Ripert, all marveling at Child's warmth, influence, and personality.
This six-episode digital series does require a WTTW Passport membership.
The Great British Baking Show is a balm for the soul: jaw-dropping creations, gentle humor, lovely friendships, the British countryside. Five seasons, those before Mary Berry and her co-hosts left the show, are available to stream by WTTW Passport members.
Only one season of America's Test Kitchen is available to stream by WTTW Passport members, but you can find more recipes from them here. Plus, they are offering a free "Kitchen Classroom" for kids, featuring a simple recipe, activity, or quiz every day to help educate and entertain kids while schools are closed.