Food TV: A Review of "Chef's Table" on Netflix
"The world needs more Zealots!" - Chefs Table, Episode 1As a millennial, I am naturally a Netflix binge watcher. I am guilty of wasting a weekend afternoon by clicking "Play Next Episode" for hours. But I can absolutely validate my hours in front of the screen if I'm learning something.
Netflix's newest docuseries Chef's Table explores the lives of six passionate chefs who have wrapped their entire lives around food. Sometimes I think about how immersed I am in food, but then Netflix provides me the opportunity to watch people like Marcus Nilsson plate a cilantro leaf, Francis Mallman make a cup of coffee, and Dan Barber obsess over bread.
If none of these people ring a bell to you, that's OK—Netflix to the rescue! Foodies might not know who Niki Nakayama is (and neither did I, until Episode 4), but it's important to see where the Foodie movement began. This sensationalist and sometimes insane idea of food culture is very present, and this intensive series is a gateway to understanding what that means. These chefs are supremely important to the world of food and major reasons magazines like Cooking Light exist. The extreme passion and obsession that fuels each of these chefs are also what propel our world of food.
A major undercurrent of the series is this respect of food and the planet, and not necessarily in a way that advocates environmental advocacy. In Episode 3, Francis Mallman wraps a fish in clay he found on the beach and serves it with simple roasted pumpkin—the way he just takes a spoon into the fish is so incredible. Chefs don't all have tweezers—some have fire, a knife, and their hands.
My only negative feelings about this otherwise inspiring and infectious documentary is the ridiculous fact that only one of the six chefs featured is a woman. I would have liked to have seen a little more exploration when it comes to covering all cuisines and nationalities as well as representing women as a powerful culinary force. Dan Barber could have easily been Alice Waters or April Bloomfield—I know it is ignorant to say that they are interchangeable, but hopefully we can look forward to Season 2 and a bit more diversity.
Chef's Table, the six-part documentary series, is currently available on Netflix.com.