An indulgent documentary series about the interplay between food, people, and places from the director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
On May 20, 2012 an earthquake in Modena, Italy not only caused major damage and decimated numerous historical buildings, but had destroyed 360,000 of parmesan wheels—about half of the current Parmesano-Reggiano in production worldwide. Massimo Bottura, owner of the third best restaurant in the world, was asked to try and help find a use for the damaged cheese. His response was Risotto Cacio e Pepe—a simple parmesan risotto recipe designed to have chefs and restaurants buy all the damaged cheese. The recipe caught on—and soon all of the cheese was sold, saving many jobs and cheese makers along the way.
This story gives a glimpse into what the rest of Chef’s Table can offer. The series, created by David Gelb (director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi), is not only about the world’s best chefs and the food they create, but the intrinsic relationships between food, necessity, nostalgia, place, and emotion. As food writer Faith Willinger says in the first episode, “It’s not just about the food—it’s about the whole concept behind the food that makes it far more interesting.” This is exactly what makes the series so captivating—not only are you salivating at these beautifully filmed images of the most renown dishes in the world, you are emotionally involved in the interplay between the food and the people and the places that created them.
In the series’ inaugural season, six episodes explore the lives of six different chefs:
Episode 1: Massimo Bottura
Chef Massimo Bottura’s story bounces between Modena, Italy—where food traditions are sacred and he dares to break them—and NY, NY—where he experiments with food and falls in love.
Episode 2: Dan Barber
American chef Dan Barber focuses on creating food that is sustainable and creates a kitchen environment of education and support, truly making American cuisine stand on its own.
Episode 3: Francis Mallmann
While Mallmann owns multiple three-Michelin-star restaurants, this episode takes place in the isolated Patagonian Islands—reflecting his own wild, unpredictable philosophies and the ancient traditions from which his food is created.
Episode 4: Niki Nakayama
In the heart of Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama fights boundaries as a female chef developing out of a traditional Japanese family and food traditions.
Episode 5: Ben Shewry
Ben Shewry’s award winning Melbourne restaurant finds inspiration in a more relatable way—in the struggle of business, balancing family life, and a search to find exquisite local ingredients.
Episode 6: Magnus Nilsson
In a quiet, remote area of Sweden chef Magnus Nilsson uses local ingredients one might hardly call food and transforms them into fantastical culinary creations.
While the food is exquisitely presented and photographed, the series is no cooking show—you won’t see any recipes or instructions on how to make these creations, and there’s certainly no judge. Rather, the series acts as an exploration of creativity—what drives artists and how the way they live their life is exhibited in their work. In fact, their world of top-notch ingredients and 5-star restaurants mimics the world of fine art more than you might think.
Chef’s Table is indulgent and sophisticated—a must-watch for any foodie or cinephile who is craving inspiration. The series creates a meditation on the relationship between the earth that provides the food, the people for which it is a necessity, and the people who have the gall to make a staple of life something imaginative and beautiful. The life-lessons and personal philosophies are what make this series delicious.
Season 2 of Chef’s Table will be released on May 27th.