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Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” is the Best Creative Octane I've Ever Seen

One evening while on the road, I finished my work early. I had time on my hands, but I was too tired to write. Too tired to work. Too lazy to work out. So I turned to my favorite source of entertainment: Netflix.

Up popped a suggestion to watch Chef’s Table. I’d never heard of it.

I already like cooking shows. Chopped is a favorite since it’s all about high-speed creativity. Oh, and it’s about nosh. I consider myself a foodie. And a food junkie. So these kinds of shows speak to me.

I thought I’d give Chef’s Table a try.

Ho. Ly. Cow.

The premise of this show is: Highlight chefs from the world’s top restaurants. Tell their stories. Reveal their philosophy for coaxing all the best flavors out of the ingredients. Show their creative processes in action.

Ho. Ly. Cow.

This is my kind of show. I was hooked within the first 10 minutes of Season 1 Episode 1. Then I got my wife hooked when I got home.

 

THIS SERIES IS CREATIVE OCTANE

Let me illustrate why.

Photo: Netflix

The photo above is Chef Grant Achatz (left), owner of Alinea — a restaurant in Chicago that has received three Michelin stars. Chef Grant grew up cooking in his family’s restaurant. But he didn’t cook this kind of food. The family restaurant was a diner. He attended culinary school and then worked in highly acclaimed restaurants, such as The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. And his eyes were opened.

Fast-forward a bit to the point when he and business partner, Nick Kokonas, dreamed up their restaurant, Alinea. While visiting art museums, the masterpieces captivated his mind. 

Up to this point, the dinner plate had dictated the size of his culinary creations. He wanted to create the scale of art that he saw hanging on the walls of the art museum.

“It frustrated me that as chefs we were limited to scale that was determined by plate manufacturers. Why not a tablecloth that you can eat off of?” said Chef Grant Achatz, Chef’s Table, Season 2, Episode 1.

That thought opened a new creative door for him: How could food be art?

It meant changing the scale and the dimension. It meant touching all the human senses. It meant surprising the customer at every turn. 

Look at the photo again. 

The table is the canvas for dessert. Two chefs visit your table and create the artistic masterpiece before your eyes. Customers eat the food off a special tablecloth that is brought out specifically for the dessert course.

Photo: Business Insider

Alinea’s food category is molecular gastronomy.

That may not be your favorite style of food. But that’s beside the point. The food is only part of the experience.

The meal is multi-sensory. 

Photo: CNN

Those balloons are edible.

This dish is served atop vapor pillows, which slowly release a scent that complements the course, such as lavender.

 

Alinea is named after the paragraph mark (¶) 

Can you see it in the logo?

Alinea means “a new line of thought.”

And that’s what Chef Grant Achatz creates for his customers with every course of the meal.

Even the website experience is different. For example, you don’t book a reservation. You book an experience.

 

THE CREATIVE GENIUS OF THE SERIES

 

By highlighting these gourmet chefs, David Gelb—creator of Chef’s Table—has created a new line of thought as well. For every viewer.

Each episode highlights a different Top-50-in-the-World restaurant, a different chef, a different creative process. So the story arc is always changing.

Each episode is a cinematographic masterpiece. The photography. The lighting. The score.

The storytelling is mesmerizing.

You feel that you are digging into the brains of these creative geniuses. Gelb’s interview style is ethnographic in nature—the chefs open up and share details of their lives, their craft and their vulnerabilities.

Ho. Ly. Cow.

Whether you like cooking shows or not, check out Chef’s Table—if for nothing else, for the creative octane. And keep your notebook handy. So you can record the ideas that will flow—for your work, for your hobbies, for your relationships, for your creative pursuits.

Immerse yourself in creativity and your inspiration will thrive.
 

A Call to Action

Are you looking to jump-start your creativity? If so, check out my free eBook:

5 Exercises that Will Make You 5 Times More Creative

that I use to keep the juices flowing—in myself or in my clients.

 

Click here to get the free eBook right now.

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Bryan Searing