Atlanta’s Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is known as a hip-hop legend and actor who has also owned a couple of restaurants in Atlanta. But as the title of this show notes, he can’t cook. Since one of Luda’s favorite cuisines is Indian, he learns dishes such as kati rolls and kale pakoras, taking pointers from chefs like Meherwan Irani, who owns Chai Pani in Decatur. Luda picks up pointers on how to properly layer spices like cardamom, cumin seeds and turmeric and creates his own Indian dishes: a beef short rib curry and green bean and okra pakora. While this show concept seems ripe for multiple episodes, the charming Luda only did a single special.
“Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy”
The series leans heavily on actor Stanley Tucci’s engaging personality and his absolute love and respect for Italy. Tucci (”Big Night,” “The Devil Wears Prada”) visits various cities, four in 2019 and two more during the summer of 2020 when the pandemic was in a momentary lull in the country. His food bona fides were already strong, having penned a 2012 Italian cookbook. His narration is sublimely colorful and witty. His interactions with the natives are joyful and informative, whether he’s sampling carbonara in Rome, ragu alla Bolognese in Naples or risotto in Milan. It was a ratings hit for CNN, which has given Tucci a second season.
“Waffles + Mochi
Michelle Obama, who has advocated healthy eating consumption for years, joins two puppet characters ― Waffles and Mochi ― to teach kids about cooking and different types of food. Waffles and Mochi had come from the Land of Frozen Foods and want to learn about fresh items like tomatoes, pickles and corn. Each episode, the puppets take a magic shopping cart to meet with chefs and culinary experts from around the world, interspersed with animated clips. A few celebrities pop in, too. During the trippy mushroom episode, for instance, Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin of “Stranger Things” fame) shows up to sample some ‘shrooms (with the proper mood music) because Netflix isn’t ashamed to do some unsubtle cross-promotion.
“Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines”
Magnolia Network and Discovery+
Joanna Gaines is better known as part of a husband-wife team on the former hit HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” The premise of her cooking show is to make simple meals to bring people together. It’s an unadorned, low-budget production, where she makes a range of calorific delights such as baklava, French onion dip and Philly cheesesteaks over six episodes. Her husband Chip and their youngest son Crew make cameos. During one episode, Crew spontaneously shows up and helps Joanna break a few eggs for brownies before Chip scoops him back up. Not surprisingly, her spacious, sun-dappled kitchen would make any home chef jealous.
“Crime Scene Kitchen”
9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox
Teams of two have three minutes to study the “crime scene kitchen,” meaning a space where a dessert had been made, and use the clues left behind to decipher what it might be. There might be almond slices on a counter, a grater with bits of carrot or empty pans left in the sink. They have two hours to re-create said dessert. Teams who do the best move on, but two judges — Yolanda Gampp and Curtis Stone — eliminate the worst performers. Host Joel McHale’s tart commentary counterbalances the overall sweetness of the show. Winners pocket $100,000.
Food Network, available on demand on Discovery+
A popular children’s board game for seven decades, “Candy Land” has been transformed into a six-episode reality competition show of the same name. It’s hosted by the super colorful actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, dubbed “Queen Lollipop.” The edible diabetic nightmare of a set is extraordinary, featuring 100 pounds of buttercream, 650 pounds of candy and over 1,000 lollipops and took months for 120 crew members to build. There are whimsically themed areas such as Peppermint Forest, Gumdrop Mountains, Chocolate Mountain, the Lollipop Woods and Lemon Lime Springs. Twenty cake and sugar artists and sculptors create outlandishly fun designs using ingredients from the set.
PBS on demand and Amazon Prime for rental
North Carolina chef Vivian Howard, who already had the PBS show “A Chef’s Life,” explores different foods that define the South, be it hand pies, porridge, dumplings, relish and, of course, barbecue. She meets up with people of differing backgrounds who interpret each item in question colored through their own cultural and historical lens. During the episode on greens, Howard visits the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina to sample a collard sandwich and get a sense how Native Americans influenced Southern cooking. She later tries a Puerto Rican Southern collard mashup with coconut. And she visits Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market, too, because the greens selection there is insane.
"Chopped: Maniacal Baskets" features Alton Brown finding the weirdest, wildest ingredients for "Chopped" chefs to grapple with. FOOD NETWORK
Credit: FOOD NETWORK
Credit: FOOD NETWORK
“Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Buckets”
Debuting on Food Network at 9 pm. June 22
Atlanta’s ever quirky Alton Brown, known for his groundbreaking show “Good Eats” and previous hosting gigs on “Iron Chef America” and “Cutthroat Kitchen,” maintains his strong ties to the Food Network by working with one of the network’s sturdiest shows “Chopped.” A five-part tournament hosted by “Chopped” star Ted Allen, 16 chefs have to grapple with Brown’s maniacally crazy ingredients and make appetizers, entrees and desserts. Brown, Maneet Chauhan and Marcus Samuelsson pick the winners from the four preliminary heats who will then face off in a grand finale and a $50,000 prize.