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Netflix's "Chef's Table" Documentary Series
Netflix's "Chef's Table" Documentary Series

How Netflix “Chef’s Table” Got Me Back Into Cooking

This time of year is ripe for apple-pickin’, netflexin’ and chillin’ and I’ve been knee deep in documentaries series on Netflix. Why? Well, partly because I am a little spent on apocalyptic crime dramas and also because it’s that time of year when the wind signals a chilly transition to nesting/cuffing season. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Narcos—-to the point where I’ve become a little obsessed, but there’s only so much cocaine-laden, death scenes you can watch without getting slightly traumatized.

So here is where Netflix documentaries has filled the void. I started with Chef’s Table. Now, I had happened to be in one of those moods to cook on a Sunday afternoon—mostly out of necessity. Who wants to go food shopping on a trafficky Sunday when you have one potato, some bananas and cream cheese? Not me, sir. NOT ME.

So, I whip up that cream cheese with some milk and got my bake on. I then add some strawberry preserve, clove, cinnamon and little vanilla. Now my taste buds are exploding with sweet, creamy flavors. I flip open my new Chromebook and throw on the first cooking show I can find. I find the holy grail of cooking shows–Chef’s Table, the documentary series that’s intimate portraits of chefs of the world and their style and backgrounds. This episode happens to be about a young man in Modena obsessed with parmesan cheese. I’m instantly hooked. I mean, who isn’t obsessed with parmesan cheese? I certainly am.

Suddenly, I’m transported to Italy–the flavors, the smells, the people, the architecture–such a wonderfully rich tapestry of culture and history…and FOOD. Thirteen seconds later, I’m watching a wonderful story about a man from Patogonia who literally burns food on an open fire pit (food critics have a fancy name for it) but this man is the Gandlaf of Argentinian open-fire cooking, complete with a walking stick, poncho and cigar.

I’m entranced. I am transposrted. I am making a banana cheese cake out of ingredients I’ve just hobbled together from my fridge.

It now occurs to me, watching Dan Farber from Blue Hill Farm Restaurant in NYC, that being a little obsessed with farm-to-table ingredients is life. Inspired, I am now remembering that I have some organic arugula and tomato in the fridge. I grab the balsamic, throw a little adobo on the tomatoes, boil a couple eggs and grab that last sweet potato I throw some duck sauce and Sriracha on the potato, season the salad and I’m now having a gourmet meal while watching all of these culinary artists dab wood-fired quail eggs with little spoons. I’m now understanding what “plating” means. Have I gone to the other side?

The last episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix I watched featured a Nordic chef who literally lives in the middle of no where. Magnus Nilsson studied in Paris, but his restaurant is literally in Sweden, in the middle of no where. Yes, he built it and they came. This premise is really the common thread amongst all of these fascinating chefs–they never compromised their vision, even in the face of failure.

Nilsson’s takeaway for me was that a dish is only has “good as its produce” something us Americans are slowly coming back to.

But really the show is about creativity and inspiration. Food just happens to be the medium. And who doesn’t love food AND inspiration?

Next up is Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two. She and I just have way too much in common to muse about here. I’ll save it for my book, but it’s nice to see so many choices on Netflix these days. Bad writing and tropes be gone.

Now off to sample my strawberry-banana-cheese cake.

Peace and blessings -xo

Netflix Documentary Series “Chef’s Table”

About Kristen Damasida

Writer and Photographer for Virago Magazine, Kristen grew up listening to vinyl and highlighting the dictionary. Her work has appeared in IrockJazz.com, The East Harlem Journal, Boston's Culturehive, the Ithacan and other publications. Her love of music cannot be eclipsed by her love of words. She's been coined the "Akira Kurosawa of Blogs" by such people as herself. An aspiring musician, she has a serious penchant for peach-flavored anything, multi-tasking, slow-paced thrillers and dreams of going back to South America, laying on the beach, and drinking from a coconut.

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