Reviewer: Patricia P. Hendrix
This beautifully-filmed and expansive series draws us into the life of each featured chef through biography, family, environment, music (Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto lifts the spirit at the start of each episode) and, oh yes, the food! Volume 6, which came out early this year, is all about pizza. Episode 1 features Chris Bianco, a sweet, obsessed, and disheveled soul who makes you want to spend a week in Phoenix sampling every one of his pizzas, while hoping he’ll find the time to say hello. The series travels across continents, spotlighting chefs like Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini who uses all parts of the animal, Virgilio Martinez who features unusual ingredients from his native Peru, and South Korea’s Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist nun who sees cooking as a spiritual practice.
While the cuisine is elevated and enticing, it is not the star of the show. Chef’s Table appeals to the viewer through character, place, and a striving for excellence. It offers a visual and intellectual respite from the noise of the edgier series so prevalent on streaming platforms these days. You won’t like all of the chefs (some seem arrogant and self-involved) but you’ll likely appreciate the story, the scenery, and the integrity of the show’s creators.