Sometime last week Audre Myers, a regular contributor of movie reviews and delightful miscellany to this site, sent me an e-mail asking if she could submit reviews of entire series of shows, not just movies. Audre actually did just that some time ago when she submitted a review of a season of Stranger Things, which I highly recommend you read.
Regardless, I of course told her yes—enthusiastically! I have a pretty open submission policy here, and I’d let an author as seasoned as Audre write about paint drying (she could probably make it entertaining!). Naturally, a Netflix series fits the bill.
Thus, I’m dubbing Audre’s Netflix/television reviews “Myersvision,” since I have a mania for turning everything into a series. Whenever Audre sends these along, I’ll schedule them under that title.
For the first installment, we have a review of a cooking show featuring the best of the best—not just self-promoting nuisances like on Chopped from Food Network (although they make some pretty awesome stuff on that show, too, there’s just usually one or two contestants who are ostentatiously self-confident and, therefore, annoying). I think readers will appreciate the twist to this show’s grand prize.
With that, here is Audre’s review of the Netflix series The Final Table:
I am a big fan of cooking competitions but the contests you find on television and most stream[ing] services are our typical short time cook and win $10,000 or some other ridiculous amount of money. I’m not complaining … I started being a foody watching those shows.
But Netflix introduced me to the ‘thinking man’s’ food competition. Welcome to The Final Table. Twelve pairs of international chefs compete cooking food they may – or may not – have any familiarity with. In season one, the competing chefs are: Benjamin Bensoussan (France) and Miguel Berganza (Spain); Monique Fiso (New Zealand) and Amninda Sandhu (India); Ronald Hsu (America) and Shin Takagi (Japan); Mark Best and Shane Osborn (both Australian); Rafa Gil (Brazil) and Esdras Ochoa (Mexico); James Knappatt (UK) and Angel Vazquez (Mexico); Aaron Bludorn (America) and Graham Campbell (UK); Alex Haupt (Australia) and Ash Heeger (South Africa); Jessica Lorigo and Johnny Spero (both America); Colin Brown (Jamaica) and Collibri Jimenez (Mexico); Timothy Hollingsworth (America) and Darren MacLean (Canada); and Charles Michel (France) and Rodrigo Pacheco (Ecuador). These chef pairs know each other from their personal and/or professional lives.
Each week, the chef pairs are tasked with cooking a meal chosen by natives of the country being highlighted. For instance, the task for the country of Mexico was a taco (judged by the three natives of the country), for the UK, the task was English Breakfast (our ‘cousins’ have convinced us to refer to this as ‘the full English’). Each pair of chefs (some have Michelin Stars, others have other accolades) creates the item using their own ‘voice’ as well as using ingredients common to the highlighted country. Some of the contestants are successful and of course, some are not. Three pairs of unsuccessful chefs are chosen to cook a second meal, based on the suggestion of that country’s world famous chef. Again, in Mexico, the world famous chef is Enrique Olvero and in the UK, the world renowned chef is Clare Smyth. How they fare at that judging decides which pairs will continue in the competition and which pair will go home.
The food, the ingredients, the talent – all these things make The Final Table a joy to watch. And here’s what’s special about this competition – there is NO monetary reward for winning the competition; instead, the winning chef gets to sit with the nine world renowned chefs at The Final Table. Think being made a god and joining the others on Mount Olympus. You can’t put a price on that.
We learn so much about the countries that are highlighted and the world renowned chefs and the inspirations of the competing chefs. Fun and informative.
You can watch this an episode per week if that’s what you like – I binge the whole thing every time I watch it.