By Caroline Cho
The Netflix series “Chef ’s Table” is a culinary masterpiece that tells the stories of distinguished chefs from all across the globe. The first time I watched “Chef’s Table,” I immediately became enamored by the poetic aesthetics in each episode. Every chef has
his or her own values and mantras in life, culture, and, of course, cooking.
“If you live an incredible moment of happiness, that happiness is much much more deep and big if you share it with others,” renowned Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura said.
In his featured episode, Bottura, the owner and head chef of the three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, emphasizes the importance of every element in the culinary experience. Born and raised in Modena, Bottura developed a profound interest in cooking from watching his grandmother make different family dishes.
Despite the increasingly modernized take on Italian cooking in society, Bottura brings familiar Italian cooking traditions that are filled with the nostalgia and innocence of adolescence and family, and juxtaposes them with contemporary culinary designs.
Bottura emphasizes the necessity of creating an enjoyable, unique experience for his customers over conforming to conventional techniques. Professional chefs like Bottura also emphasize the presentation of their cuisine, as they use their creations as mediums to evoke specific emotions in their guests: happiness, nostalgia, freedom, satisfaction, and much more. One of Bottura’s most inspirational creations is the “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart!” which was created when his sous chef, as the name suggests, accidentally dropped and ruined a perfect lemon tart. The imperfection and humour behind the dish creates an entirely new and authentic approach, mood, and experience that is unique to only Bottura’s menu.
Not only are the messages in “Chef’s Table,” such as those seen in the Bottura episode, insightful and poetic, but the cinematography throughout the series also visibly communicates the beauty of each culinary experience. The directors took into careful consideration the different camera angles and the pacing between cuts from the film in order to complement the beauty and elegance of the dishes.
For instance, the directors eloquently matched different cuts to the rhythm of the classical songs in the show. Every movement in each scene perfectly coincides with the beats of the songs playing the background. Creator of “Chef’s Table” David Gelb incorporates this ingenious technique across multiple episodes, such as in the masterful “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” to subconsciously emphasize the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into each dish.
“Chef’s Table,” therefore, is not only a documentary film showcasing the culinary accounts of each chef and his or her respective eatery, but also documents the significance of food and interpersonal relationships.