My perfect afternoon? Sitting in my bed, a cup of tea in hand (sleepy time vanilla tea preferably), lots of snacks and Chef's Table queued up on my laptop. This might seem a little weird (don't only old people like documentaries?) and it is true that I am essentially an 70 year old in a 19 year old's body, but Chef's Table is a well crafted, interesting documentary series that will give you a whole new appreciation for food in all its forms.
Chef's Table has three seasons and every episode follows a Chef in the top of their field. I recommend watching all of them, but most are not as crazy and food obsessed as me, so I ranked them. Here are the top ten Chef's Table episodes.
10. Alex Atala Season 2, Episode 2
Alex Atala is a badass. His love for rock and roll and tattoos make him seem like he should be in a rock band, not delicately arranging plates, but this juxtaposition mirrors the juxtaposition of his culinary techniques. Alex transforms traditional Brazilian dishes with French and Italian cooking techniques. His food combines the roughness of natural ingredients with the delicacy of modern cooking styles.
9. Niki Nakayama Season 1, Episode 4
Niki Nakayama is the definition of a control freak; she obsesses over every detail of her food and ensures every costumer has a dining experience unique to their likes and dislikes. For these reasons Niki's restaurant, n/naka, is known for their amazing meals.
8. Massimo Bottura Season 1, Episode 1
This is the first episode of the entire series and it's a perfect entry into why Chef's table is so good. Massimo Botturo opened his restaurant, Osteria Francesca, in a small Italian town. He searched to reimagine Italian food, but his audience only knew Italian cuisine one way. Through his passion for good food he was able to gain attention from the culinary world and therefore an audience that appreciated his cuisine.
7. Ivan Orkin Season 3, Episode 4
This is not your college dorm room ramen. Ivan Orkin is the classic New York jew with his thick accent and explicit language and he has mastered the art of Ramen. Ivan was fascinated with Japanese culture and with this came a passion for the Japanese staple of ramen. This episode will force you to put down your cup of noodles in search for something better.
6. Gaggan Anand Season 2, Episode 6
Gaggan redefines Indian food; his dishes are a combination of classic indian dishes with modern twists. He tells his story of he went from being a poor child in India to a world renowned chef. He coins the term "progressive indian cuisine" and proves to the world that there is more to indian food that meets the eye.
5. Dominique Crenn Season 2, Episode 3
Dominque Crenn is the definition of a girl boss; she earned two Michelin stars with her beautiful dishes and became the first female in the country with this award. Her menu is presented as a poem and each dish corresponds to a line in the menu. She isn't just serving a dish, she is "serving a story".
4. Virgilio Martinez Season 3, Episode 6
Virgilio Martinez's food somehow takes a scene of the environment in Peru and places it on a plate. Each dish is named after the altitude in which the ingredients were found and each dish only uses ingredients from that altitude. Each dish takes little known aspects of different natural scenes and creates a dish that transports you to that place. He seeks to create discomfort in his dishes; he wants people to reconsider what something means to be food. Although you might not be scratching to try algae bubbles; his food is truly art.
3. Nancy Silverton Season 3, Episode 3
Warning: You're gonna want bread and pizza after this episode. The episode opens with the most mesmerizing scenes of bread you will ever seen. Nancy Silverton's voice over speaks to her obsession to make all of her food perfect. Just as she is obsessed with her food, you will surely be obsessed with this episode. Her quirky style and love for food makes this episode a must watch.
2. Grant Achatz Season 2, Episode
Grant Achatz's food will excite and fascinate you. His dishes are whimsical and childlike, but also use incredible skill. He serves dishes such as a balloons made of sugar and a dessert that uses the table as a plate. Not only is his food breathtaking, but he battles a deadly illness that changes the way he cooks (No spoilers on what happens here, you're going to have to watch and see).
1. Jeong Kwan Season 3, Episode 1
This episode will change the way you look at food. Jeong Kwan is a Buddhist nun in South Korea and unlike the rest of the chefs on Chef's Table, she does not have a restaurant. Jeong cooks for the other nuns and occasionally will cook for food critics and events. She cooks with an appreciation of her ingredients and the natural world. The beauty of her dishes and her perspective towards food and flavor will make you rethink your next meal.
You may not be able to afford all this food, but these episodes can bring you one step closer.