Street Food, a new documentary series, is now streaming on Netflix.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Greg Wheeler
Fresh off the success of Chef’s Table, Street Food is a 9 episode spin-off showcasing some of the best street food in the world. With a decidedly Asian flavor to proceedings and easy-to-digest 30-minute episodes, Street Food is an easy show to watch and a great cooking series in its own right. Taking the same ingredients that made Chef’s Table so successful, Street Food strips away the baggage to deliver a concise, well-written showcase of some of the best street food chefs in the world.
Beginning in Thailand, the series darts across to different famous street food locations with each episode, weaving a mix of signature dishes and famous chefs into this documentary series. Whether it be the history of a soup dating back to World War II or the ethnic diversity in Singapore, each episode explores the history and societal impact street food has had on the country. This works well too, with a split focus between the region itself and the chefs that operate within that country. It’s a great balance for the most part and offers a good dose of educational history into each country that helps set it apart from Chef’s Table which predominantly focused on the chefs themselves.
The series combines archival footage with face to face interviews. For those familiar with Chef’s Table’s set up, these interviews generally combine the chef themselves talking about their history and critics discussing just why their food is so good. This, of course, ties into the various close-up shots of the dishes and the different cooking techniques used to cook before the infamous money shot – a beautiful presentation of the dish with a bit of text to explain what this is.
Given the decided street focus of the series, there’s a great use of expository text here too, with each dish or chef broken up by a black screen with neon writing on. It’s a small touch but something that reinforces that accessible feel of street food being for everyone and from grounded origins rather than steeped in prestigious richness.
While I still think Chef’s Table’s longer length and more comprehensive breakdown of each chef holds the crown for Netflix’s best cooking show, the shorter run time and globe-hopping episodes of Street Food are almost certainly going to attract a bigger crowd. For the most part, it works well too, and Street Food is a beautifully shot, educationally sound cooking show. If you like documentaries or want to find out more about the food scene, I strongly recommend checking this one out.
I give Street Food a B-.