Chef's Table

Photograph courtesy of Netflix
Rating 7.8
Streamer Netflix
Seasons 6
Episodes 30 x 50 mins

This Netflix series is cashing in on our food obsessions by profiling trendy chefs and the treats they’re serving – and they’re usually slightly more complex than your mid-week shepherd’s pie.

One of the major upsides to this show, is that unlike watching celebrity chef series where a single cook gets their ego stroked for a whole season whilst waffling on about how mint really reminds them of their childhood holidays in Bognor Regis, and how they’re revolutionising spaghetti bolognese by putting a pinch of cinnamon in it…each chef has only one episode to prove that they’re worth their salt.

We travel around the world, meeting chefs at the top of their game as they manage their restaurants and share stories on how they fell in love with food. And we meet some fascinating characters who are reinventing the way we eat – there’s Ben Shewry whose Melbourne restaurant is thought to be among the best in the world, Dominque Crenn who was the first two-star Michelin chef in America, Vladimir Mukhin who is modernising Russian cuisine, and Tuscan Dario Cecchini who shows us how to get more from our meat.

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Each episode is a profile of these fascinating foodie figures, and allows us a peak into their minds as well as their restaurants, and their varying philosophies. And as a result, this show stands out against other food-related programming – there’s no cheesy competition to win a title or an engraved plate, and the chefs aren’t here to tell us, “sure, you can whip up scallops with a saffron sauce and freeze dried iceberg on a Tuesday evening.” They’re here to celebrate food as an art, and if you make it through a season without dreaming of a trip to one of these incredible restaurants, we’ll be amazed.

And to be honest, if you binge watch all six seasons, along with the other iterations like Chef’s Table: BBQ, and Chef’s Table: France, the chances are you’ll come across a restaurant in your country, or at least in a prospective holiday destination.

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Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times calls this an “elegant” series, which is “rediscovering simplicity in much the same way that the chefs it profiles have rediscovered local ingredients and traditional methods.” The Telegraph lists this as one of the best food and cookery shows on TV, saying that it’s an “engrossing, revealing series, which offers a surprising amount of insight into both the food industry and the passion of those who devote their lives in it – as well as copious amounts of food porn.” And according to Vulture’s Calum Marsh, they’re doing it better than anyone – “Chef’s Table pioneered that slick, frictionless aesthetic that’s ubiquitous in food documentaries (and nonfiction television of all kinds) today — the plush, precise look en vogue that makes the humblest foodstuffs scintillate, so crisp on a 4K TV they seem edible.”

First shown April 2015. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clickingr here.

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