Down With Chef Worship

Last month, celebrated Danish chef René Redzepi opened up a pop-up restaurant in Tulum, Mexico. This restaurant will only be open for seven weeks. Dinner costs $600 and lasts well past midnight. You will not eat at this restaurant. You will not even come close to ever being able to eat at this restaurant. And yet, critics went anyway, and—SHOCKEROO—they really enjoyed themselves. Redzepi’s fellow chefs also made the pilgrimage, because the high-end food industry now is just apparently a roving club of people waxing poetic over their ability to shamelessly indulge one another.

The amazing thing is how successful these chefs and critics have been in creating a cottage industry wherein consumers like me actively choose to live vicariously through them. I’m not immune to their charms. I love food, which means I also love me some food porn. I watch Parts Unknown. I eyebang the pretty photos in Bon Appétit. I read Pete Wells reviews of four-star joints with jaw-dropping prix fixe tabs. Hell, I was IN a goddamn food show. And I started watching Chef’s Table, the ultra-serious Netflix docu-series that chronicles a selected chef’s life as if they’re a sitting fucking President, and lovingly photographs every dish of theirs as if each one will be made into a permanent installation at the Museum of Modern Art.

Everything on Chef’s Table is filmed in geological slow motion. Certain cooking techniques, like the grinding of corn, are fetishized like nude bodies. It’s a beautifully made show, and I think I made it halfway through my second episode before realizing that I hated it. Take this profile of ramen master Ivan Orkin, for example:

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