I recently watched a series about great chefs, which inspired me like no other. A product of Netflix, if you’re a true blood follower of food, you might have heard of the Chef’s Table – Documentary Series.
The Chef’s Table is nothing like your regular food banter on television, it is for those who search for real depth and meaning in food. It is about a journey, a lifetime of dedication, a struggle and how food found these people.
When you find spirituality and respect in cooking and eating food, that’s when you know you’ve found true love. It is this show that has made me realize that I need to give respect to the food I’m cooking as well as that I’m eating. The interesting thing though, is that all these years I have believed that I love food, and it was while watching this show that I realized it was only lust.
I never experienced flavours as they were. In India, we often become used to eating plenty of chilli and garlic in our food, often lots of ghee and butter too, without realizing how much is too much. In truth, unless you intend to mask the staleness of meat or a day-old curry, there is no reason to mask the integrity of vegetables or meat with excess garlic.
We often eat at run-of-the-mill restaurants that store 3 different colours of base gravies and spike it up with cream and chilli each time they need to dish out an order. Very often we aren’t able to savour the experience, the deep flavor tones of neharis, dal makhanis or sarson ka saag slow cooked over coal all night. What’s worse was that even after having eaten all types of delicious homemade food, we often don’t realize the beauty in subtlety.
The meaty flavor that develops with undertones of whole spices in a nehari stock, served for breakfast after a night of patient cooking at home, can never be compared with the onion based green gravy that is often served as “Nalli Nehari” at the restaurant down the road.
Cooking is passion, enlightenment and often a spiritual experience. Sometimes you don’t follow tradition, it doesn’t matter what will sell and you don’t compromise on the food you believe in, you simply follow your heart and the result becomes a masterpiece. I have realized in my own pursuits with food, my writing or my videos that there is a marked difference when I go by what I love rather than what people will love, and the result is always better that way.
Chef’s Table made me think about the work of great artists and scientists, the work of Da Vinci. What happens when you do what you love? When money is not what you’re after any more than you are after personal satisfaction. Unlike you and me, Leonardo Da Vinci or Einstein or great men that have lived, weren’t after making money to buy a house, but in search of something more, something that made their heart sing.
When you follow love like that, day after day, with sincerity and commitment, it doesn’t matter if you rolled out 10000 Burgers a day or not, what matters is that people would travel to eat your food, like Chef Magnus in Episode 6 of Chef’s Table.
My favourite though is the romance and poetry in episode 3 of Chef Francis, and the first episode on how the love of his life, helped Chef Massimo Bottura develop his art on a plate.
If you want to see the journey of a great Chef, if you want to understand how art looks on a plate or if you want to experience a life translated in food, then you must, must watch this series. It changed my life, my way of cooking and everything that I knew and understood about food, and I’m sure that it will change your life as well.
For your viewing pleasure only, here’s a link for the Official Trailer of Chef’s Table on Netflix.
And here are some images of food from the show.