Newsflash, lovers! We might call music the food of love, but the real food of love is… actual food. There’s no sweeter, more romantic way to a loved one’s heart than a dinner made with sweet (and sometimes spicy) care. But if you’re a kitchen disaster, why not order take-outs and sit down with your intended to a tasty banquet of TV food? We’ve prepared a tasting menu of the delectable treats to feast your eyes on.
Appetisers: Jan Season 1-2 on Showmax
Episodes: 50 mins each, Afrikaans with subtitles
Start local with an amuse-bouche from South Africa’s Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. His French grapes with blue cheese and moskonfyt (in episode 2 of Season 2, around the 21:50 mark) is a tasty little number and simple to prepare with three local ingredients.
The trick is in the presentation. Nothing says “I love you” like taking the time and care to cut grapes into little flower shapes and then arranging them together just so that the first impression your dinner partner gets is one of beauty.
Second course: MasterChef Australia Season 11 on DStv Now
Episodes: 60 minutes each, English
Time to get the heart racing with a little spice and action, and MasterChef Australia can certainly do that job. The show is known for bringing in some of the biggest names in food, but this is next level. From episode 20, it’s Legends Week, which kicks off with a visit from Rick Stein, and moves on to welcome the hottest chef on the planet, Yotam Ottolenghi.
As the tension mounts near the end of the challenges, you and your viewing partner can do a little clinging to one another. It’s a reminder that we all have our little imperfections to work through.
Vegetarian option: Top Chef Junior Seasons 1-2 on Showmax
Episodes: 43 minutes each, English
MasterChef can get a little intense, so if you and your date would prefer something that’s just as exciting but a little gentler on the nerves and still filled with wonder, these little chefs (aged nine to 14) are serving it up. Think more “aww” than awe.
The junior chefs take on a food truck battle in Season 2 episode 10 – which means lots of hungry customers all waiting to be served at the same time, and queues forming right in front of the little chefs’ eyes. You can see them feeling the heat, but one little genius takes advantage of that (around 27:50) to steal customers who’ve been waiting too long for the other team to try his fast-serving tacos.
It’s a show with a little less cruelty that’ll fill you and your date with soft, happy smiles.
Main course: Salt Fat Acid Heat Season 1 on Netflix
Episodes: 50 minutes, English/multilingual with subtitles
After the excitement of the starter course, you’ll be ready for something rich and satisfying – something with some calm and some charm. Smooth-voiced, laidback chef Samin Nosrat has turned her definitive cooking techniques book Salt Fat Acid Heat (2017) into a TV show in which she explores the application of those four elements in kitchens around the world.
It’s fascinating, unexpected and educational (scientific explanations and illustrations have been sprinkled throughout for extra flavour). One of the most charming moments of the series (Season 1 episode 4, around the 12:20 mark) is watching Samin getting taught a thing or two by her own mother as they prepare the classic Persian crusty rice dish tadigh.
By the end of that, you should be all softened up and ready for the next course. And if you want seconds, just keep playing the episodes. There are only four but they’re all delightful.
Dessert: Zumbo’s Just Desserts Seasons 1-2 on Netflix
Episodes: 60 minutes, English
The course we’ve all been waiting for is an impossible feast for the eyes as Australian pâtissier and chef Adriano Zumbo (you may recognise him from MasterChef) challenges home bakers to re-create his visually dazzling, complex deserts. Honestly? This is a “don’t try this at home, kids” moment for most of us as it’s extremely technically complex. But the end results are jaw-dropping.
It’s possibly the lightest dessert you’ll ever “taste” and very more-ish. Episodes are themed, so you can easily find something romantic, like Season 1’s seductive episode 3 in which Zumbo has asked the chefs to make a romantic dessert featuring chocolate. For this one, we’d recommend having a couple of real-life chocolates on standby to savour as you watch the chefs present their beautiful desserts to the judges. Delicious.