Jan 2, 2017

[TV] Chef's Table

One of the early Netflix features that Tobie and I started exploring was Chef's Table, which is a beautiful look at different chefs from around the world and their unique perspectives on food. I can't say that we're the type of people to spend enough money on food to experience the cuisine of chefs of this caliber, but it's certainly fun to watch.

Each episode is a celebration of food and a celebration of what each chef has decided to bring to the table. And it's more than just cooking good food or indulgent food. It's also about presenting food in a unique way and creating a television experience that provides a visual treat as you come to appreciate all that the chef of focus has decided to present.

This series is one of the main reasons we ended up signing up for a full subscription after our trial period. This series is superbly well done and they configured a format that makes the most impact on the viewer. And I don't think we've seen another series quite like it - and that's something to be celebrated.

Synopsis: Chef's Table is documentary series created by David Gelb for Netflix. Thus far the show has 2 full seasons of 6 episodes each with a third season planned for release in 2017.

The term "chef's table" refers to a VIP table at a restaurant where the host chef may be served a themed tasting menu. In this manner the show aims to have viewers take their own seat at the chef's table of the focus personality and learn more about their thoughts on food, why they do what they do and how they came to where they are today. A lot of times the stories have strong parallels involving working for some big restaurant, losing inspiration and going back to their roots to create something new. The roughly hour-long show format provides for a lovely exploration of what makes each chef unique in the culinary world.

And the show isn't just focused on chefs in the US. The experience is quite the global one, taking the viewer from country to country in order to meet some of the best chefs in the world - or at least some of the more unique ones. I never thought that I would so get into a show about dégustation.

What I Liked: Beyond the unique opportunity to hear the stories of some of the best chefs in the world is how they structured the show. Normally a lot of shows use the format of discuss dish, present dish, and so on and so forth. While we still sort of get that, but we also get it in a more organic structure that follows their journey to define their cuisine and how it resulted in this or that dish. The stories of these great men and women are beautiful in themselves and quite inspiring as a whole as you realize how much work went into things.

But the focus on the dishes themselves only really happen at the very end of the show in a wonderful dance from dish to dish. The quality of the video itself is stunning as each dish is presented beautifully and it is left to stand on its own merits. It's a statement about how it's not just about how food tastes but it's also how food can be elevated to a art form. And that's what these chefs are - culinary artists that paint with both ingredients and flavor combinations.

What Could Have Been Better: As a somewhat practical eater, I'll be the first to admit that some of the dishes can get a little silly. This is not something you can fault the show for but you do begin to wonder if all of this is truly necessary for cuisine to advance. Then again, if you don't dare to dream up new things, then how can we move forward, right?

I'm not quite sure what else I want to see from this show since I'm not quite the diehard foodie that knows names of chefs like I know my Transformers. But I'd like to think the spread is pretty generous - and the six episode format means they get to focus on key chefs. I'd love for each season to run longer, but does that mean risking running out of chefs to interview and document?

TL;DR: Chef's Table is an amazing celebration of chefs working on the cutting edge of the culinary world in a manner of speaking. It's a show that makes your more curious about what goes on in fine dining restaurants and makes you hungry on more than a physical level. Thus the series gets a solid 5 brilliant creations presented in crystal clear high definition out of a possible 5.

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