Season 3 of “Chef’s Table,” the sumptuously photographed, six-episode Netflix series premiering Feb. 17, profiles prominent chefs from around the world who show an appreciation for their craft and for the origins of the ingredients they use.
Because we are talking about chefs, they also sometimes show an outsized appreciation for themselves. Thankfully, there was only one of these apples in the batch of four episodes made available to critics. German chef Tim Raue starts his episode by proclaiming, “I am egocentric, and proud of it.” His Berlin restaurant is called Restaurant Tim Raue. As if there were any question.
Raue overcame an abuse-filled childhood to become a two-Michelin-star chef known for his take on Asian cuisine. For that, he should be commended. But he is also a staff-berating boor. And bore, since the Gordon Ramsay model stopped being interesting years ago.
Whereas Raue’s primary interest is himself, Virgilio Martinez of Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru, scours his home country for ingredients that represent its great biodiversity, from Andes to Amazon. These ingredients include translucent, green balls that resemble caviar but are actually algae.
An emphasis on the natural also informs the fascinating episode dedicated to Jeong Kwan, a South Korean Buddhist monk. Although she cooks primarily for other monks, she also instructs university students about her approach to soul-nourishing food. She avoids aromatics such as ginger and garlic because they produce an energy at odds with the calm monks must maintain, Kwan says. But vegetables from her unruly garden (she does not prevent insects or feral pigs from entering, since they are part of nature) are fair game, as are her temple-aged soy sauce and kimchi. Though kimchi is not known for its calming taste, we have not tried Kwan’s. If the peace she exudes is an indicator, fermented cabbage is a panacea.
The most hunger-inducing images are of Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza) kneading bread or taste-testing pizza prepared by staff members. This is partly the power of proximity, since Silverton’s restaurants are near enough to Sacramento to try. But it’s also because Silverton, a veteran pastry chef and baker who helped start America’s artisan-bread movement, comes off so well.
She is formidable but also fair, offering employees praise as often as critique. She’s antidote to Raue and Ramsay, and to the idea of unprofessional behavior as fun to watch.
Chef’s Table season 3
Streaming on Netflix starting Feb. 17