Over the years there seems to have been a distinct evolution of food television. The Food Network of the past overflowed with chefs simply cooking a meal and explaining how they did it; these are the shows that typically only air during the day when most people are at work (sorry, "Pioneer Woman") and the masses would simply watch someone make dinner. However, today society seems to be saying goodbye competition shows, hello food documentaries. 

Disclaimer: when this article suggests to say goodbye to competition shows and hello to food documentaries, I by no way am talking about "The Great British Baking Show" — that show is and always will be a cult favorite, in a class of its own.

After the days of watching Paula Dean feed her family and getting all of the gory details of how food is made and packaged from "Unwrapped," society upped the stakes and turned toward competition shows. These shows have more “action” than, say, "Good Eats." Competition shows made food exciting. They’re cutthroat, fast-paced, and attention-grabbing — you get sucked into watching the whole hour long show just to see who wins the $50,000 prize. Soon, there was a competition show for every genre of cooking: "Iron Chef," "Cupcake Wars," "Guy’s Grocery Games," "Beat Bobby Flay," "Chopped," "Chopped Junior." An audience was only interested in watching someone cook if there was a cash prize involved. Cooking shows were no longer about the actual cooking.

So, what is a food documentary?

Lately, there has been another paradigm shift in food television, and it has come in the form of food documentaries. A plethora of Netflix Originals have popped up that are all about food: what it is, where it comes from, and who is eating it. Shows like "Salt Fat Acid Heat" and "Street Eats" highlight both the beauty and simplicity of food. This influx of food documentaries is bringing me back to the days of watching Rachael Ray’s "$40-a-Day" with my mom.

... and why should I watch one?

There’s a show on Netflix called "Breakfast Lunch and Dinner," where chef David Chang explores the food scene of a large city with a celebrity on each episode. They simply walk around, eat, and talk about food. It’s simple, light-hearted, and interesting. That just might be the appeal of this recent turn from competition shows. There is no ego involved, no smack talk, and, most importantly, no nagging judges who play favorites (if you’ve ever seen "Holiday Baking Championship" you know what I mean).

In addition, this is also the reason that the "Great British Baking Show" is so universally popular. The contestants are only competing for bragging rights, so they support each other and develop genuine friendships. The show is driven by a mutual love of baking instead of a crazed desire to win, so it aligns more with the documentaries that aim to highlight the joy of cooking and baking than a high-pressure, high-intensity competition show.

Although the content of food television has changed from decade to decade, the constancy of cooking and cooking-related shows remains. Whether you are a fan of "Giada in the Kitchen," "Hell’s Kitchen," or "Ugly Delicious," the ever-present popularity of food shows can attest to the fact that society always has, and always will, love watching shows about food.