2023 was the year of The Bear. The FX/Hulu show inspired everything from unexpected thirst traps to real-life $31 Italian beef sandwiches to gasp-worthy responses to an altered Chicago deep-dish pizza. But what else were Eater editors watching (and sometimes hate-watching) this year?
What was the best food show of 2023? And any thoughts on the worst?
Best: The Bear, obviously. Otherwise, I thought food TV was pretty bland in 2023. I do not want to watch another weird competition show, for the love of God. — Amy McCarthy, staff writer
I have a feeling everyone else is going to say The Bear, so as much as I loved it (and I did; Season 2 vastly beat out Season 1 for me), I’ll offer something else: I really enjoyed the newest season of Great British Bake Off, which was a shock to me given how much I disliked those Matt Lucas seasons. The addition of Alison Hammond as a co-host has been a return to form. The challenges made much more sense than some of the problematic ones recently, but even better, the charm is back. On the other hand, as much as I wanted to like the Filipino Netflix series Replacing Chef Chico, which centers on a fictional fine dining restaurant in the Philippines, the outdated, over-the-top caricatures of chefs and “foodies” made it is a cringe-inducing watch for me. There’s definitely an audience for it, but I’d say set your expectations more to the level of a Hallmark movie or Burnt than The Bear. — Bettina Makalintal, senior reporter
It just dawned on me that I haven’t watched Great British Bake Off at all this year. It’s not because it’s bad, but I think I’m just done with it. Godspeed, GBBO, I wish you well and hopefully something comes along to take your place. — Jaya Saxena, correspondent
Best: I’m not going to be original here: The Bear almost never fails to be a good if stressful time. While I didn’t love how Claire was set up as an inevitable foil to Carmy’s ability to run his restaurant, I continue to adore the ensemble cast, and would happily watch a spin-off that revolved entirely around Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Olivia Colman peeling mushrooms. Worst: Mario Batali’s Zoom class. — Rebecca Flint Marx, Home editor
I don’t watch food TV (please no one come for my job) except for the Great British Bake Off, and I was grateful that the latest season was much improved over the last few, thanks to new host Alison Hammond and tasks that felt like a real return to form. And the worst food show… The Bear? I kid! I haven’t seen it. — Monica Burton, deputy editor
Best: The Bear is really the only answer here. — Jonathan Smith, interim senior editor
Bake Off is vastly improved with the addition of Alison Hammond, but it’s still faded into the realm of background watch for me. What I found surprisingly more compelling this year were the two seasons of Bake Off: The Professionals currently streaming on Netflix, which proves the Herculean tasks of building all-chocolate showpieces and a window display’s worth of patisserie is indeed best left to the pros. — Erin DeJesus, executive editor