I’m virtually an anti-foodie. I don’t particularily enjoy the art of food, and more often than not make my consumption decisions in a very utilitarian fashion. I don’t cook, and I have no intention of becoming half competent in the kitchen, let alone a great chef.
So Chef’s Table didn’t immediately strike me as something I’d want to drop everything and watch. But then a brief portion of the series caught my eye: that it stems from the same folks responsible for ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ which happens to be one of my favorite documentaries on Netflix.
So settling in for my first episode of Chef’s Table specifically with the intention of reviewing it, my natural first point was that the show is far less about the actual food being cooked, and much more focused on the dynamic personalities behind each dish. Chef’s Table could be about almost any industry, as each episode does a fascinating job diving deep into the mind of these food artists, focusing far less on the actual food and instead on the complicated people crafting it.
Chef’s Table also doesn’t really try and make you feel any particular way about any of the chefs the documentary focuses on, instead the direction of the doc adds an artful craft behind each episode. This direction brings dramatic effects to each conductor-like motion as the chef takes a meal from ingredient to work of art.
Chef’s Table is certainly not without its own flaws however, as the series could just have likely been wrapped up in far less time. I got the feeling after one episode that this was going to run a little long over the six-episode first season, but I never struggled through an episode even if I did catch myself browsing the internet or playing with my phone throughout some parts. In other words, great artsy background entertainment for those less interested in the world of cooking, probably far more entertaining for those fascinated with the realm of high-end food. For those of you hoping to dive in deeper on that, I highly recommend the Eater review which takes a more in-depth look with countless industry references that flew well over my head.
So here are my final thoughts. When I stream a lot of content on Netflix, I am more likely than not looking for something to put on in the background at least 2/3rds of the time. Chef’s Table is almost a perfect fit for that type of viewing, as while the direction was beautiful, and the interviews and personalities certainly entertaining, I didn’t feel like I needed to be paying attention the entire time.
Will there be a second season of Chef’s Table? Time will tell, but we should find out in the coming months.
Episode list below:
Episode 1: Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy)
Episode 2: Dan Barber (Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and in New York City, USA)
Episode 3: Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Episode 4: Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Episode 5: Ben Shewry (Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia)
Episode 6: Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen Sweden)