This post originally appeared on March 2, 2018, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.
If you’re reading these words, that means that the weekend has finally arrived. Congratulations! And it’s not just any weekend, this is actually Oscar weekend, so please consider wearing your finest attire and making some Wolfgang Puck-worthy snacks for yourself before settling in on the couch to watch TV.
Here are three recommendations for things to watch, including one film that’s actually nominated for an Oscar.
The adventures of a food blogger-turned-dessert ninja
You don’t have to love dessert to enjoy Netflix oddity Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman, but if you are a fan of Japanese treats, this show could easily become something of an addiction. The main character, Kantaro, leaves a coveted job as a computer programmer to become a sales rep for a Tokyo book publisher. He’s not exactly moving up the corporate ladder, but Kantaro knows that his new job will afford him the freedom to roam the city and hit up his favorite dessert restaurants.
Of course, Kantaro can’t let his boss find out about this dessert habit, so he uses all of his brain power to plan the perfect routes so that he will always have some time leftover on his sales calls to eat dessert. Further complicating matters is the fact that Kantaro actively keeps a dessert blog, where he chronicles his exploits under a pseudonym. A curious coworker eventually starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together, which means that Kantaro must become even craftier with the planning and execution of his dessert runs.
That’s pretty much the extent of the drama in Kantaro, but the real thrust of the show comes from all the scenes at the dessert restaurants. Our hero obsesses over each dish, focusing on how all of the ingredients work together to create something irresistible. After each dessert encounter, he’s transported to a fantasy world in his mind, where his head is replaced with one of the main ingredients, and he must interact with other, similar mutant dessert-humans.
In terms of depicting culinary obsession and the thrills of solo dining, Kantaro is a bit reminiscent of Samurai Gourmet, another great Japanese show that’s on Netflix. This one is a bit frothier, but it also functions as a crash course in the art of Japanese dessert making. You’ll know after the first episode if this show is the right fit for you.
All eight episodes of Kantaro are streaming on Netflix.
Streaming selections du jour
Watch it on: NewYorker.com
The gist: This short documentary tracks the evolution of Edwin’s, a French restaurant in Cleveland that also doubles as a training program for formerly incarcerated individuals. Some members of the inaugural class move through the ranks and make it all the way to graduation, while others aren’t so lucky. This tough film, which is up for an Academy Award this weekend, covers a lot of ground in just 40 minutes. You can watch the whole thing right now on the New Yorker’s video hub.
City of Gold
Watch it on: Hulu
The gist: If you’re jonesing for something else in the vein of Ugly Delicious, this 2015 documentary about Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold — who appears in the “tacos” and “home cooking” episodes of that show — could help satisfy that craving. Although it’s ostensibly a doc about a famous journalist, City of Gold spends a lot of time focusing on the people who Gold has written about over his three decades in LA — mostly immigrant restaurateurs, working in neighborhoods that don’t often get a lot of attention from national food media. It’s as much a love letter to the city of Los Angeles as it is to the guy who reviews its restaurants every week.
Oh and by the way…
If you love food TV and movies and want to share your own recommendations or chat with me and the rest of the Eater pop culture team about what’s new and good, please join the brand-new Eat, Drink, Watch Facebook group. It’s a private group for food TV and movie lovers, so hit us up for an invite, and if we can confirm that you’re a real person, we’ll welcome you in. Here’s a question we’ll be discussing this weekend: What are some great food moments in this year’s Oscar-nominated films like Phantom Thread, pictured above?
And in other news…
- Season 2 of steamy/ridiculous/pretty much perfect culinary soap opera Delicious is headed to Acorn TV on Monday. Please watch there trailer above, which includes a ghost chef, literal fireworks, rolled pasta, and someone uttering the phrase, “You need sex as a matter of urgency.”
- Fox Searchlight is developing a biopic about Richard Montanez, the former Frito-Lay janitor who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The working title is Flamin’ Hot.
- Chef Flynn, a documentary about 19-year-old tasting menu chef Flynn McGarry, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will screen at SXSW this month.
- In other SXSW news, a Roseanne-inspired restaurant and a version of the chicken shack from The Chi will pop-up at the media conference in Austin this month.
- Chef David Chang, producer/director Morgan Neville, and Eater NY editor Serena Dai will be having a conversation at the 92Y in NYC on March 6 about Netflix’s Ugly Delicious. Tickets are $35.
- The snacks and trinkets in the Oscar swag bags this year are worth approximately $100K.
- Ina Garten’s hit show Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro returns for a new season on the Food Network next Sunday, March 11 at noon.
- And finally, although he initially downplayed the incident, it looks like Bobby Flay really did quit Iron Chef America by flashing a t-shirt message that read, “THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER” during a taping last year. At the recent SOBE fest, Flay told the Daily News: “When I do a season, I do between six and eight (battles) in a week and it crushes me because it’s 60 minutes of pure energy, creativity, and execution. And so at some point I was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time and I want to go out on a high note.’”
Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for something just a little fancy to cook for your Oscar party, consider making these chocolate chip cookies with fresh-from-scratch Nutella.