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“Chef’s Table” highlights the stories of chefs worldwide

DANIEL ANDERSON | Evergreen columnist

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I love binge-watching Netflix. I also love binge-eating while watching Netflix. But binge-eating while binge-watching a show about some of the best food in the world? That is a level of satisfaction achieved only by watching the outstanding documentary series, “Chef’s Table.”

“Chef’s Table” grants an inside look into the lives and stories of the world’s most prolific chefs. Creator David Gelb considers the Netflix series to be a follow-up to his standalone documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

Each season has just six episodes, all around an hour in length, making binging simple. There is never a particular theme within a season, with the exception of “Chef’s Table: France,” a separate series that could be considered the third season.

Every episode showcases a different chef from a different part of the globe. Season three premiered last Friday and included a wonderful lineup of chefs.

First was Nancy Silverton, a leader in California and Italian cuisine. Her four-decade career in Los Angeles has been influential to say the least. She is the founder of La Brea Bakery, a high-quality bakery with products and food available in grocery stores and restaurants all across the country. Silverton is also restaurant partners with legendary chefs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

Departing from Los Angeles to New York, Chef Ivan Orkin also had his own episode. Having lived in Japan, Orkin is a guru of ramen and studied the craft extensively. He later went on to work for some heavy-hitter chefs like Bobby Flay before opening up his popular namesake restaurant Ivan Ramen.

Across the pond is Chef Tim Raue. He owns the restaurant Tim Raue, an Asian-inspired, two Michelin-star restaurant, ranked number 34 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.

Raue isn’t the only chef in the series with a World’s 50 Best Restaurants spot. Vladimir Mukhin of White Rabbit restaurant in Moscow, Russia, attempts to bring traditional Russian foods to the modern age.

In my opinion, the most exciting episode might just be the one without a chef. Jeong Kwan is a sixty-year-old Zen Buddhist monk who cooks daily vegan meals for her community at Baekyangsa Temple, miles outside Seoul, South Korea.

And lastly, Chef Virgilio Martínez pioneered putting Peruvian cuisine on the global map. His restaurant, Central, in Lima uses indigenous ingredients from his homeland. His work has also gotten the attention of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Michelin stars.

While each episode of “Chef’s Table” is a different viewing experience, sometimes they can follow the same format. Each usually starts with some origin or trauma story of some kind, a more recent challenge and a triumph.

My hopes are that this season will simply focus on whatever the particular chef wants to communicate to the worldwide audience. I understand many chefs’ stories are that of a challenge and triumph, but it doesn’t always have to be for great storytelling.

For example, my favorite episode was the very first of season one. Chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant based in Modena, Italy, shared a simple story of his philosophy on food and his family life. Massimo is a character, as he gets lost in his world conceptualizing dishes or sharing his love of Italy with those around him. The episode did cover some challenges, but it was a more approachable story than some of the others in future seasons.

If episodes of the most recent season of “Chef’s Table” can capture the magic of the very first episode, then any person would be able to enjoy the series. Other episodes try to go deep and can feel too esoteric or philosophical for the casual viewer.

The filmography of “Chef’s Table” is visually stunning and flawless. One enchanting quality about the series is its ability to capture human experiences and senses, and then translate them into the medium of food. These are some of the best chefs in the world and not everything is easily understood, but there is a vivid imagination and wonderment that can be entertaining or inspiring for any person watching.

And if you are a chef or restaurant lover, then this is a series for you. It can challenge your way of thinking or help you think about food in a way you hadn’t before. You’ll want to take notes.

It is important for a series like “Chef’s Table” to exist. It is a glimpse into a world that many don’t have access to. Nancy Silverton and Ivan Orkin have the most casual restaurants, owning a pizzeria and ramen place, respectively, but the other locations are near-impossible to get into.

We live in a food and entertainment world now. Food has changed into a source of status or popularity akin to sports. Everybody knows something about the subject matter or has at least seen a cooking show of some kind.

“Chef’s Table” is a different breed than Food Network or Top Chef. While featuring chefs oceans apart with restaurants almost inaccessible for the everyday person, the Netflix shoe still manages to feel tangible and real.

Not everyone can make a reservation to a place featured on the show, but you can take the time to watch from the comfort of your own home.

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“Chef’s Table” highlights the stories of chefs worldwide