Netflix's wonderful Street Food focuses on the human aspect of ordinary food

I try not to get too pedantic about TV — watch whatever you want; television is personal, and it should be fun — but I do have one firmly held opinion, which is that competitive cooking shows suck.

We all have a memory of something we loved to eat as a child: Grandma’s potato salad; brownies from a box fresh out of the oven; the chicken soup that warmed up cold fingers and toes after playing in the snow.

There’s just something inherently unnaturalabout turning this sensual, communal art form into a vehicle for competition, with little connection on the viewer’s part to the tastes or smells or textures.

The judges (the delightful comedian Nicole Byers, famous chef Jacques Torres, and then some totally random celebrity or football player) are at pains to say something nice about everyone’s efforts, and though there is a rather sizable prize of $10,000 at stake, there’s no real rhyme or reason to who wins.

And I think both of those shows, beloved of fans, put the emphasis back on what the chefs and bakers are doing — being creative — rather than on winning and prevailing.

David Chang’s Ugly Delicious takes a different tack, exploring a kind of cuisine (pizza, barbecue, fried rice) in each episode, letting chefs argue about what makes it great.

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