This weekend I began the series, Chef’s Table a new Netflix original series, which follows a different world-renowned chef for the entirety of each episode, explaining the concepts and techniques that make every one unique.
The first episode, which follows Massimo Bottura, the head chef at Osteria Francescana was absolutely fascinating to me because it forced me to review cooking in an entirely new way. I was particularly excited about starting this show not only because I took my first professional cooking class last weekend in New York City, but also because concepts of gender identity and creative ability, which is so deeply tied into cooking, has been brought up in several of my Communication classes this semester.
Watching this particular episode I found myself tying in these concepts about identity and power, which chefs get through cooking, and especially so when they become a part of popular discourse, which they inevitably will through a series such as this. Although, in contrast to the chefs I would name off as the stereotypical macho chef, who uses culinary creation as a form of rebellion and escape, like the protagonist character of the movie Chef, played by Jon Favreau, Massimo became famous for his functional and practical use of food to aid an economic situation. When he first began his career as a chef in Modena, Italy he made use of an excessive amount of Parmesan cheese, which would have put the producers out of business by creating a recipe that required the use of an entire wheel of cheese.
The practicality of Massimo’s work as a chef is then elevated by the artistry with which he plates a meal; taking time to lay out each layer of flavor like a temporary Pollock to be consumed in minutes. His fleeting creations, which bring him artistic gratification are seen as having lasting effects not only on the environment his restaurant is a part of but also on the culinary-world, which explains his astounding accomplishment of earning three Michelin stars.
This series is something I would highly recommend for anyone who loves food… so everyone, and I think that the intrigue I have in the show can be rooted in the way that it covers not only a variety of chefs but also a new perspective on creation and manipulation of foods and ingredients that is inspiring.