A Netflix Original – Chef’s Table

We were simply awestruck by the very first episode of the new Netflix docu-series “Chef’s Table”. Ever since we teased the show in our Top 10 food films on Netflix, it has become the darling of my food media world. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at least 10% of my Facebook friends are sharing their love and talking about this brilliant new show. It captures exactly what I’ve always wanted in an exposé on the leaders in the world of food, focusing on six chefs and their unique stories of struggle, ascension, and cumulative breakthrough success.


The structure is honest, thought-provoking, in-depth, and filled with heaps and heaps of seductive, slow motion sizzle reel filmed in crystal clear HD. The first episode takes us to a place we should all be so lucky to visit, the wide swath of northern Italy which makes up a Devastator type food Transformer known as Emilia-Romagna. Based on my heritage, tendencies, appreciation for Parmigiano Reggiano, aged balsamico, hand made pasta, and meat products from cloven animals; this is where I, and many others probably wish they could live out their remaining years.

From the beginning of his story it’s clear that Chef Massimo Bottura loves Modena for all that it stands for. The introduction grabs you with a touching story that helped jump-start the growth of his community following a natural disaster. I don’t want to give anything away. That’s why I’m ending the show talk here.


We don’t really have a desire to critique or review this series. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great stuff to talk about. As a team, we rank this show right alongside the other great documentary style productions such as El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, all of Bourdain’s TV work, and of course Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Until recently, I hadn’t been thinking about recipe writing for Eat a Duck. I spent more than two years happily coming up with complete menus for the taste section of the Lakelander magazine. Some of which covered more than a dozen individual recipes per article. To think each one through, most often with zero room for error,  was a logistical nightmare consuming incredible amounts of time and effort. It was both exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve since stepped away from being full-time editor to give more attention to other important things in my life, which hopefully means putting more of my energy into creating on this front.


The goal here is to pay homage to the six fantastic stories from this first series of Chef’s Table. While walking through town, I thought to myself “how can we tie this show into what we do.” What we came up with, was to formulate a recipe inspired by the theme of each show, a reflection of what lingered in our minds from each episode. It could be inspired by a personal story the chef tells, the region in which they’re from, or just our attempt at blatantly ripping off their most famous dish. We hope you enjoy our six dishes, which will include recipes for whatever it is we come up with. Going in order, the first will indeed chronicle Chef Massimo and his restaurant Osteria Francescana.

Utilitarian, Enthusiast or Snob. Which foodie are you?

Some people are food lovers, savoring meals, taking inordinate amounts of time to eat them while enjoying the company of close friends and loved ones. Others simply view meals as a means to an end, satiating hunger in order to get on with a more important task. Their mantra, in the words of Remi’s father, “food is fuel”. If you’re on the proverbial fence here are some points to help you figure out where you stand.

  • Many miles are put on your odometer, driving out of your way to purchase locally sourced or naturally grown foods
  • Pesticides and genetically engineered products are generally not part of your food vocabulary
  • The following movies/programs are in your Netflix or Hulu instant-watch queues: El Bulli (cooking in progress), After Hours with Daniel Boulud, Man vs. Food, Food Inc., Made in Spain with Jose Andres, Kitchen Nightmares or Masterchef, Avec Eric, No Reservations, Kings of Pastry, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Jacque and Julia at home, I like killing flies, and hopefully Marcels Quantum Kitchen. Or any other show obtained through nefarious means. (I just received an urgent message. My favorite food related movie Big Night is now on Netflix instant watch. If you have failed to view this masterpiece, do so now.)
  • At 10:30 pm, after checking  and rechecking your fridge and pantry, you find you have no food whatsoever to cook or eat right away, you decide to do without rather than settling for fast food
  • After contemplating the thought of going to bed hungry, you slip on your flip-flops and drive 45 minutes to the closest 24-hour taco truck. Your stomach will win this battle
  • You are the authority on where to get the good foie
  • You are regularly harassed for being a “foodie” which apparently is synonymous with “food snob”
  • You spend hours online researching new or unvisited restaurants to visit, even if you’re too broke to go out, quite possibly it’s for someone else
  • A co-worker starts talking about “The woman who has that restaurant in California”. You immediately respond, ” You mean Alice Waters from Chez Panisse?”  They look at you in amazement like you’re Carnac the Magnificent.
  • You plan your trips around what restaurants you want to visit in any given city. (Daytona Beach is no longer a viable vacation destination)
  • You visit Chicago, obviously eating at Hot Doug’s is top priority, despite the fact that someone tells you it’s too commercial. (You know who you are) You know what’s too commercial? Mad Men. It’s an entire show about commercials. You know what’s the best show on the T.V? Mad Men. You know…that show about commercials!
  • People don’t get your food related jokes, except, you know, smart people
  • You don’t really know how to follow a recipe from start to finish, because recipes are for the Devil

So where do you fall? Do you have a love affair with food, or is your relationship a little tepid? There’s no need to defend yourself for your stances on these matters, regardless of your status food-wise. As for me, I’m a little tired of making  jokes, only to have someone take offense or judge me negatively because they disagree when it comes to the art of the chew. Most of the time, I’m mocking my perception of how I think people see me, but what happens? People take me seriously. Does it mean I’ll stop making a mockery of things? Of course not!  Unless someone is trying to take away one of your personal rights, it’s time to let the ignorant go about their business. Let them go to bed hungry or bloated.

Now for the first Eat a Duck poll. We want to hear from you people!