“Don’t try to copy everything you have learned. Find your own way. Find your own language.” – Chef Francis Mallmann
Netflix is doing it right when it comes to good television. I don’t always enjoy documentaries. I am creative and sometimes I can get bogged down in the details if they are not illustrated and produced well. The story may be a good story to tell, but if it is not told well, then I check out rather quickly. But Chef’s Table is magical. The production on it is so well done that I could almost watch each episode on repeat and appreciate it for the whole experience which is visually stunning. But it is not just the visuals and the great background tracks that keep everything moving along nicely, but it is the sub plot of every story which is: Who are these people and what makes them tick?
The first episode is about Massimo Battura and we get to meet him not only as a chef, but as a person who failed and succeeded and fell in love and found himself. This is not something that they teach you in college or in school. It is difficult to know what you want to do with your life when you don’t know who you are and you often don’t know who you are because you are still creating and living experiences that are shaping you.
When I was a child I just knew that if you wanted something you had to work hard to get it. I went to school for Business Administration because it was a general degree that would pay the bills. After that I took more classes for education because I thought I wanted to teach and then I quit because I did not have the heart to really teach, at least not as a career. Then I started to get my MBA because I worked for Texas Instruments and just about everyone I worked with had their MBA, but that wasn’t something I was passionate about either.
It takes time to settle in to what you love and where you can find your niche in life. I think that is what makes Chef’s Table so great. In each of these six stories we get to see that each chef took what they learned from their teachers and over time cultivated something that was their own. They looked beyond the naysayers and pushed past paradigms to make new pathways in their field and instead of just creating something to eat, created an experience and edible art.
This was inspirational for me. I took notes during these shows because as an artist you need people in your life to tell you that what you are doing may not seem right to other people at the moment. But you have to find your own voice. You have to find what works for you and hopefully what that is people will eventually come to value and appreciate.