What is so unique about this Netflix documentary series is that it does not only go into depth of the specialty food of the chef but into the chef’s particular background as well. The new season focuses on six world-renowned chefs, Jeong Kwan, Vladimir Mukhin, Nancy Silverton, Ivan Orkin, Tim Raue and Virgilio Martinez. They focus not only on the food but the chef’s past experiences, struggles, and successes. Even though these chefs’ come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse cooking styles, they all have similar personalities of conviction and compassion, which clearly distinguishes itself from other cooking documentaries. However, this season falls a little flat with over-familiar visual and audio styles that will leave a veteran viewer of the show wondering if the series will modify their structures of storytelling.
The sweet and emotional orchestral sounds will try to hook you into the third season of some standout satisfying stories about individuals who happened to find their voice through cooking. What intrigues me is the specific personalities of these people, such as the story of the Zen Buddhist nun/chef, Jeong Kwan who is calm and collected while also spiritually and emotionally balanced in both her lifestyle and cooking in temple food. The peculiar yet relaxing tone of her story about becoming a Zen Buddhist nun and a chef was interesting and hooks the viewer into crafting a different definition of a chef. Also, throughout her story, there is a deeper understanding of Kwan’s connection with nature and how she translates that connection through her cooking.
Another standout of this season was Nancy Silverton, the Los Angeles native who faultlessly obsesses in the precision of her craftsmanship as a baker with bread and as a chef with her style of Italian food. During her story, it was clear that she’s bossy and determined when dealing with the other chefs in her kitchens and the vendors she bargains with for food. The merriment of storytelling and distinct orchestral sounds worked perfectly with the stories of Kwan and Silverton and highlighted the success of their achievements.
However, other episodes turned up a little short specifically the episode that focused on the provocative and egotistical, Tim Raue because it failed to set up its own tone and significantly focused on Raue’s ego and persistence whilst in the kitchen. Even though it was entertaining to see this kind of chef bring back the food culture in Berlin it was a little tiresome when Raue kept talking about his own accomplishments as a chef in Berlin. There was also not a clear distinct tone that was found with Kwan and Silverton. In addition, I feel like there was more to Raue’s story than his harsh upbringing and his selfish drive to be the best in Germany. Peruvian chef, Virgilio Martinez’s story had a resourceful and dependent tone but it seemed very similar to a past chef’s story in previous seasons, which may stray some dedicated viewers.
This season had good and detailed stories about amazingly talented chefs but the third season reveals that the documentary series seems to be using the same story structure with the particular chef’s downfall and rise and the expected use of string instruments in the background. Maybe there is hope that the series will be able to pull off diverse story structures and newly vibrant tones but for this season of Chef’s Table, for me, deserves a B.
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Chef’s Table S3 Review: Third Season Looks A Little Burnt. Image courtesy of Netflix.