A Refreshing Mix of Art and Food: Netflix’s Chef’s Table

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Still. Season 2, Episode 1: Grant Achatz

Aside from by obsessive love for home makeover shows, I have an odd appreciation for food and cooking series (probably because my talent in the kitchen is lackluster). Inspiring, artful, and addicting, Netflix’s documentary series Chef’s Table is a surprising balance of personal story, talent, history, and taste.

The show offers a sneak peek into the restaurants and lives of some of the world’s most exceptional chefs from around the world. With emphasis on genius and craft, the camera plays on the chef’s personal creativity with intriguing angles and compositions to expose the details of the cuisine and the interiority of the subject.

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Still from Season 2, Episode 1: Grant Achatz

In comparison to popular competitive cooking shows on the Food Network, Netflix’s series calls on the tropes of documentary film to reveal more about the life and love of a chef. As Christina Chaey notes in her article for Bon Appetit, Chef’s Table offers renowned chefs a chance to reach a global audience; a path that isn’t dependent on “selling your soul” to a network or relying on a tasteless cookbook deal. Moving in a refreshing direction, Chef’s Table focuses on strong character-driven narratives and design-oriented visuals.

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Still from Season 2, Episode 2: Dominique Crenn

Season two begins on a high note with American chef Grant Achatz; a progressive gastronomist whose nontraditional restaurant in Chicago focuses on the art of deception and the beauty of science. In this episode, Achatz opens up about his struggle with tongue cancer and finding himself after losing his sense of taste for a prolonged period of time. In the spirit of piggybacking off of Hugo Munsterberg, I think it’s important to consider how the development of storytelling through film has allowed for new visual possibilities. Experimenting with, and pushing the boundaries of, traditional twenty-first century television genres creates new and meaningful narratives, and I think Netflix’s Chef’s Table does just that.

 

  • By Lydia Geisel
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5 Responses to A Refreshing Mix of Art and Food: Netflix’s Chef’s Table

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I think the fact that since it is a documentary it allows you too understand the art these chef’s are creating. Everyone is an artist we just use out paint brushes in different ways. I think the documentary addition to a cooking show is genius it allows you to understand the art and having a better appreciation for it versus on some shows you just see a beautiful plate but wonder why one chose this instead of the other. Their story will help you understand their decisions. Maybe I can steal a recipe or two from the show and try to impress my social media followers.

    -Dez Wortham

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I> LOVE.THIS.SERIES!! I think that each episode of the first, and second season, and even the French season are some of the best documentary style pieces that I have seen. Their use of music and style in filming constantly had me glued to the screen every time I watched it. The movie Somn also had a similar effect on me, you should check it out. It is about the process to become a Master Sommelier.
    -Michael Cyphers

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I have never heard of this series before, but after reading your analysis and seeing the beautiful visuals from the show, I may have to check it out in my free time. I LOVE food. Nothing brings me more joy than a greasy pizza from Domino’s. However, I do not enjoy the cooking behind the scenes of an amazing meal. I find this concept so fascinating because it emphasizes the art and beauty behind preparing the food. I am marveled by the first picture because at first glance I had no idea it was food. The splattered colors genuinely look like an artist’s painting in a museum. This is the beauty of art- everyone finds beauty in different places, people and things in life. I have only seen intense cooking competitions shows with multiple contestants attempting to create the best dish before time runs out. I would enjoy watching a show where this sense of competition is eliminated, and the focus is on the passion and beauty of preparing the food.

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I’m not super into cooking shows, but this documentary looks very interesting. Having a good cinematic appeal to compliment the chef’s creativity and vision seems like a very cool look into their lives. I also am a big fan of food, so I’m sure that will help!

    -Jake Fallin

  5. marymdalton says:

    Have not seen this yet. There is just too much great TV these days. Just finished blasting through Girlboss (one of my former students wrote episode 9), and am watching Dear White People (loved the movie — saw it twice — and have so many other shows I’d love to watch.

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