There's nothing better than watching masters practice their craft.
Netflix’s wide variety of streamable content that doesn’t rely on a loyal audience to keep up with new episodes each week allows for creative flexibility that regular broadcast television doesn’t always have. When it comes to niche competition shows, Netflix boasts its breadth of cooking and baking competitions but also provides a platform for other talented artists to compete and show off their skills.
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Glass blowing, baking, sculpting, forging, and even engineering have their chance to shine in these ten excellent competition shows, most a neatly-tied up single season of eight to ten episodes that's perfect for a lazy afternoon or when it's too difficult to pick something to watch.
Blown Away is a single-season glass-blowing competition for anyone who’s ever wondered about the artistry and skill that goes into molding molten glass into gravity-defying shapes. In it, artists compete in a series of challenges for technical skill, thematic presence, artistic voice, and utility for the chance to showcase their work to the masses in the world’s largest-ever hot shop, built just for the show.
Rife with shattered glass and expectations, Blown Away shows every bit of the blood, sweat, and tears that craft everything from dinnerware to room-sized sculpture installations. Netflix renewed it for a single holiday special with some familiar faces thrown back into competition.
Paying homage to the Food Network Challenge in many ways, Baking Impossible’s single-season competition pits teams of “bakineers,” bakers, and confectioners with decorated engineers to craft edible and functional pieces of art. From cake boats to bridges to miniature skyscrapers, Baking Impossible brings unique challenges to the busy arena of cake competitions. Bakers must consider the physics of their creations, and engineers must construct with the fragile doughy nature of edible materials.
Baking Impossible is equally entertaining as it is educational. Each team’s members bring wildly different skill sets to the table, and along the way, newfound food creations combine to make edible epoxy and ramen particle board.
On the surface, Is it Cake? appears as little different than the myriad of other cooking competitions with an intense focus on the artistic skill of the baker to be incredibly detail-oriented in decoration. The show takes bakers and confectioners to task replicating everyday objects like suitcases, handbags, and shoes, alongside other food like tacos and steak with meticulous frosting and coloring.
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Is it Cake? also takes the unique approach of not eliminating contestants and having them compete in later rounds. Even watching the creations come together makes it tough to tell which creation is, in fact, cake. It's a testament to the skill of every baker involved in the show’s single season.
If Is it Cake? procures experts in their field to put their meticulous attention to detail to the test, Nailed It! brings together average everyday novices to recreate the piece of the day, most often to hilarious results. Nailed It! is a rare Netflix boon, with six seasons and spinoffs filled with cake-tastic failures.
Nailed It! celebrates the messiness of the kitchen and the imperfections when creating art, making the most of a sticky situation, and remembering to have fun. Where most cable competition shows are high stress, high drama, and often high criticism, this cooking competition takes a refreshingly different approach.
School of Chocolate condenses the wide variety of a confectionary competition down to the many creative and surprising uses of chocolate. An incredibly versatile ingredient, chocolate can be as simple as a cake flavor or the foundational structure of sculptures with a multitude of textures and flavor variants. All are explored in School of Chocolate.
More than a competition, School of Chocolate seeks to educate artists who are already masters of their craft, asking them to think outside the conventional chocolate mold and beyond. With a professional chocolatier at the helm, the show pushes one of the most popular baking ingredients to its limits.
The premise is simple: Take one average food item and recreate it from the most random ingredients competitors can think of, like a smoked ham that’s actually a watermelon. Crazy Delicious sets itself apart with its Wonka-esque stage and kitchen, pushing chefs’ creativity to the max to use the most outlandish ingredients beyond the standard cake competition.
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Best of all, each piece isn’t terribly difficult to attempt at home while bingeing the show, unlike towering cake and perfectly-textured mouses and pastries. The show also features fresh contestants each episode instead of whittling down a standard set of twelve or more.
Glow Up takes the versatility and creativity behind makeup design and artistry to its limits, bringing in aspiring makeup artists to compete with art on the medium of human skin. With the prize more than just bragging rights and cash, artists have the opportunity to toss their hat in the ring of some of the biggest labels and names in fashion.
Each round varies drastically between more traditional, professional makeup and rounds that really let creativity shine with twists requiring unorthodox makeup materials, specific eras to emulate and pay homage to, and dazzling spectacle. The show boasts three seasons.
Pitting seven welders and metal sculptors against each other, Metal Shop Masters is a competition for flexing each artist’s skill with cutting, molding, and welding metal sheets into art pieces and functioning sculptures. The first round already sees competitors starting on rough foundations, having to dismantle and toss out previously built pieces and start over, a unique challenge for competition shows.
Metal Shop Masters brings another art not often showcased on TV to Netflix’s massive platform. With only seven competitors and six episodes, the competition digs into the intensive labor and thought that goes into working with steel and other metals as a medium.
How does one make a competition out of flowers? By recruiting 20 florists, sculptors, artists, and landscapers to build and plant massive garden pieces: they're basically living sculptures. The Big Flower Fight gives a platform for the surprising stress and planning that goes into crafting towering floral art, having to manage an incredibly delicate medium and keep the whole thing alive.
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The first challenge takes fifteen hours of planting, constructing, sketching, and packing soil, moss, and flowers into chicken wire frames. Wearable arrangements, edible thrones, and enormous creatures are only a few stages, and it only gets better from there.
Network television and streaming services are no stranger to cooking competitions, usually pitting solitary chefs against one another or split between two teams. Netflix’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown takes a different approach, bringing in sixteen families to prepare home-cooked meals with their traditions and kitchen quirks.
The goal of the competition is, first and foremost, to have fun and cook with soul, not the hectic craze of professional restaurant kitchens. Cooperative, multigenerational teams come together on the show’s set and in their own homes, serving their best for the grand prize.
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Chloe Barnes is a list writer for Collider and fantasy enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Communication. She has written for her university paper and spends her free time practicing photography with her cats and writing historical and science fiction.
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