The real reason why you should watch Netflix’s Chef’s Table

A T.V. show about food? Not even close. This show breaks paradigms, inciting passion, creativity and love for the culinary world.

Dominique Crenn speaks of her father and her stern personality turns brittle. I find myself trying to hide the tears but it’s unavoidable.

The episode turns silent, a somber reminder that immortality is but a myth. Subliminally addressed towards all of us, Crenn sees that her life as a chef can be just a bit too busy, especially when it’s her mother’s turn facing an illness.

By the time the episode nears its end, the visual quality and the musical ambience, a balance between past, present and future, that welcome the viewer at first are no longer the same. It’s moments like these that make me understand that she is, after all, another human being. Just one that had won two Michelin stars. Now, the dishes have a completely new meaning.

Just like Crenn, all the stories bring a glimpse into something; a dark past, or a challenging upbringing, perhaps even violent, that makes this show something other than a program worthy of a mere cooking channel.

The first great attribute in this Netflix masterpiece is the superb camera work; the angles manage to capture that precise moment, that emotion, the chef lives that translates perfectly into a dish, a dish which we see come to life thanks to the visual quality.

Be it Atala’s search to rescue Brazil’s Amazonian identity or Nakayama’s struggle as a female chef looking for respect, the camera is dutifully fulfilling its role: capture, capture, capture. Then take us there, next to them, to the steam of a boiler and the cold of the Swedish tundra.

The second great attribute is the musical composition. Music, along with exemplary camera work, adds an entirely new level of viewing complexity, similar to the layers and flavors of a dish. I have yet to see another food documentary with such integral quality.

But the outstanding technical aspects are worthless, this entire show would be nothing without the stories.

In the past, a television’s chef persona was presented as confident, aggressive and flawless, only the minions surrounding him or her made mistakes. Food shows are lavish. Too perfect. Not here. We only see their workstations, be it inside a kitchen, or out in the open fields, their lives and their flaws.

Just a quick scan of the varied personalities tells us that we’re in for a strong dose of reality. From recovering drug-addicts to cancer survivors, homosexuality to sexism, perfection to pride, tears to joy, the chefs aren’t perfect. And we love it.

Behind every imperfect story, there lies the real reason why people should watch this show. All chefs share one common thing.

Drive. Obsession. Purpose.

Something fuels them, and it’s not food. It’s beyond food.

It’s even greater than themselves. It’s the never-ending quest for human connection. As Crenn forces a smile, after visiting her father’s grave, I feel a jolt of passion. A feeling overtakes me, a need to create, write, draw, listen, love, laugh and cry. So ends another episode.

This show isn’t for foodies. It’s for creators, artists, dreamers and lovers. It’s for passionate people.

Originally published at machinaverborum.com on August 29, 2016.