Chef’s Table is pure escapism. It’s completely detached from reality and doesn’t have a shred of self-awareness. It’s a bearded dude exuberantly sprinkling wild micro mushrooms over a piece of elk salted with crystallised tears next to a lake in stunning HD with hazy colour grading. It takes food so very seriously - to the point of absurdity - and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
I’m delighted, then, that it will return on 17 February for a third season, having searched far and wide for even more unorthodox restaurants and sage, zen-like chefs.
Today, Netflix dropped the first trailer for it, teasing some upcoming ‘moose lips shchi’ (I had to Google, shchi is a Russian style cabbage soup) and in particular drawing attention to Jeong Kwan, who is not a chef but a monk who just happens to cook incredible food for her monastery.
Here are the chefs featured this season and a little about them, as per Netflix:
Jeong Kwan, Baekyasa Temple (South Korea)
A practicing Buddhist nun who has lived since the age of 17 at the Baekyasa Temple south of Seoul, Kwan has been called by The New York Times a “philosopher chef.” If you ask Kwan, she says she is simply a cook who prepares temple food to help clarify and energize the mind for mediation. In many ways her food is the original “farm to table” style of cooking, using time tested methods of fermentation, foraging and dehydrating in her daily preparations for the monks, nuns and visitors to the temple.
Vladimir Muhkin, White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)
The most influential chef today in Russia, Muhkin, with his “Alice in Wonderland” inspired restaurant (currently ranked 23rd in the world) takes diners down the proverbial rabbit hole in a quest to rediscover the foundations of Russian cuisine. As a fifth generation chef, Muhkin explains why he considers it his duty to demonstrate that Russian food is more than just borscht, caviar and vodka. Muhkin describes how he has purposefully eschewed Soviet era recipes, going deeper, into the history and origins of Russian cuisine to help both his countrymen and the world understand what is truly the “Russian taste.”
Tim Raue, Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)
With the 34th best restaurant in the world, chef Tim Raue has put German cuisine back in the world food conversation mixing Asian influences with German ingredients. After a difficult childhood, Raue eventually found solace in the kitchen and began his rise as a influential chef with his food reflecting the multicultural backdrop of modern Berlin.
Virgilio Martinez, Central (Lima, Peru)
As the chef of Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru, Virgilio Martinez has shown a spotlight on the massive diversity of the ingredients his native country has to offer- starting from the sea stretching all the way up to the Andes Mountains at more than 4000 meters. Chef’s Table traces his rise as a young chef in Lima to his revelation to create a restaurant around the notion of showcasing ingredients from various elevation levels in Peru. Follow Martinez as he forages for ingredients that are instrumental to creating the unique dishes that have made Central the Number four restaurant in the world.
Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen (New York, NY)
Following the sudden passing of his wife, U.S. born chef Ivan Orkin decides to move to back to Japan, where he had lived after college, where he delves into the world of ramen, becoming the first foreign born chef to receive acclaim for his personal style of ramen making. After conquering Japan, Orkin decides to shutter his Tokyo shop and move back to America with his family. Upon his return, Orkin begins to help lead a ramen revolution in America which has now spread all over the country, thanks in part to his two restaurants in New York City.
Nancy Silverton, Osteria Mozza, (Los Angeles, CA)
Chef Nancy Silverton has been an integral party of the food and dining revolution in Los Angeles over the last 30 years. A self-described food “obsessive” Silverton recounts her culinary journey: from her early days opening Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, to redefining what California italian cuisine could be with her then husband Chef Mark Peel at Campanile to kickstarting a European style bread making revolution with La Brea Bakery . It becomes clear,Silverton has been at the genesis of many the food styles more commonplace today in LA and the rest of the country. With the opening of Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and ChiSpacca, Silverton describes how she has been able to reconcile having both a small restaurant empire yet still being able to personally cook and create for her customers every day.
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