The Chef Show is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
Cooking shows are like sandwiches. There’s a lot of variety, all kinds of different ideas on how it should and shouldn’t be done but few manage to execute on simplicity to make it stand the test of time. Netflix’s latest cooking series The Chef Show may have one of the most generic names, but don’t let that fool you; this is surprisingly one of the most refreshing cooking shows released this year.
Following on from the success of Chef, the 2014 feature film, The Chef Show is a delightfully grounded cooking series, one that reunites Jon Favreau and award-winning Chef Roy Choi for 8 episodes of culinary techniques, homely cooking and celebrity guests sharing fascinating facts about their lives. While I personally found the Avengers reunion the most interesting, there’s a whole range of different people introduced to the kitchen, including comedian Bill Burr, Jazz Singsanong and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Most episodes follow the same pattern, interspersed with stop-motion animation of the Food Truck, pausing momentarily after hitting a speed bump to showcase the ingredients inside the dish they’re about to cook. From here, the usual array of close-up shots, steady cameras and informative dialogue follows as Jon follows Roy Choi’s direction, adding seasoning, grilling, flipping or blending the different ingredients. This works twofold; it shows us Jon’s journey into the world of cooking and his passion for food whilst allowing us to join him on this journey every step of the way. It’s a very clever technique and one that works really well across the 8 episodes in this first season.
With the show still finding its feet early on, the first episode wastes no time getting right to the heart of the cooking. We begin almost immediately in the kitchen and from here, the heat of the ovens are alleviated through some interesting sit-down meals, outdoor segments and a whole range of different locations spread across the series. It’s a really nice touch too and it helps break up the monotony of the sets, adding some colour and vibrancy – much like the delicious dishes the two wind up creating.
Of course, there’s a good amount of educational content here too, mostly through the dialogue the two share in the kitchen. A lot of this is done through subtle probing questions, asking when to add seasoning, how long dishes should remain in the fridge and what sort of cheese you should use to make the perfect grilled sandwich. It’s something that other cooking shows do too, including Saturday Kitchen Live, but the execution here, coupled with the pleasant musical score, make this a breezy show to watch.
Chef’s Table may have the finesse and classy polish but The Chef Show’s rustic, grounded approach is surprisingly original in a genre littered with dramatic reality TV and polished documentaries. That’s not to say either of those options are bad of course, but The Chef Show’s plain, original ideas and simple execution make it a decent cooking show; an easy show binge or put on in the background while you’re doing other things. It won’t be for everyone of course but those looking for a closer look at celebrities or want an easy cooking show to dip into, The Chef Show is well worth the plunge.
I give The Chef Show a B-.