Netflix Hidden Gems: Chef’s Table combines artistry, dramatic storytelling

Chris DiLullo, Managing Editor

One thing I never would have thought to say is that food is underrated, yet if there’s anything that is demonstrative of this phrase, it’s Netflix’s underappreciated chef-based series Chef’s Table. With the most recent season released on April 13, featuring four different pastry chefs from various parts of the world, the program dives into the complex, psychological world of being a master of the culinary arts.

Being a chef is one of the least glamorous positions one can hold. If the meal, dessert, or appetizer is perfect, the chef doesn’t receive much recognition. The meal itself is supposed to be perfect, flaws should be nonexistent. However, one small component of the complex dish that is off can destroy the delicate balance that allows it to flourish. If this failure occurs, only one figure holds the blame: the chef.

Chef’s Table provides an insightful look at the struggles of holding such a position, where such an artist’s creative inspirations come from, and their various influences. Each episode serving as an engrossing profile of a different pastry chef, the program succeeds with flying colors in developing stories as rich as the dishes they create.

One way the program succeeds is by humanizing a figure constantly hidden from consumers. The chef behind the dishes at a restaurant is shadowed in mystique, obscured from the masses. However, Chef’s Table allows viewers to see just how human and similar to us they are. Christina Tosi, a pastry chef operating in New York City, has a grassroots background that’s relatable and engrossing, while Will Goldfarb works to free himself from the chains of society and dependency on approval from others that seem to stagnate everyone.

These chefs are similar to us in every way; they fight daily battles, take care of their families, and explore their own values just as everyone else does. Chef’s Table allows us to see that chefs aren’t on a pedestal; they’re everyday artists.

The style and exploration of individuals that aren’t fully explored by the society at large isn’t unique though. Plenty of other programs have explored people with mystique behind them, and while they may not be as engrossing or successful as Chef’s Table, it doesn’t make the program as distinctive. Instead, it’s the clear artistry and vision from the creators that makes it special.

Chef’s Table is of the same quality of an award-winning film. Each shot visualized perfectly, each frame of a cinematic quality, ideas communicated with depth. Often, documentaries like Planet Earth have breathtaking cinematography, and this Netflix original is no different. Watching the program is a visual feast, an experience unlike any other Netflix series.

Documentaries aren’t the most popular series to binge; they can be plodding and simply uninteresting. However, Netflix deftly avoids all of these detrimental components in Chef’s Table and delivers one of the most engrossing programs on their platform.