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The Mind of a Chef

Quite by chance I happened upon the PBS series The Mind of a Chef, on Netflix.  I am still on season one, and season three begins this September, so we have time to catch up. Having grown tired of the non-stop food competitions on Food Network, and the glorification of  individuals who have no more to offer than being good cooks, this series has been mind blowing

I don’t think I’ve ever used that term before in any post, so I want you to take it very seriously, though not literally.  I can’t stop watching it, and so far, each episode has been both intimidating and inspiring. If you love to cook, if you have any interest in the science of cooking, the whys, and the hows, stop what you are doing, stop reading this post, and go watch the first episode on noodles. You will want to get on the first plane to Tokyo, you will want to eat ramen noodles right out of the package, you will consider putting baking soda in your the water when you cook your noodles.

 This isn’t food porn at all, it is food philosophy, chemistry, romance and gymnastics. There are things I really don’t want to eat, and more that I do, but this is a chance to see into the minds of food geniuses, the Picassos, Rembrandts, and Michelangelos of food. You may find my enthusiasm a bit over the top but when I re-watched the first episode with my daughter she started to tear up and her exact words were “This is emotionally delicious”. I was just as enthralled the second time around.

David Chang, and the other chefs he visits and cooks with change the paradigm of chef. There should be a special word for them, a designation that indicates their gifts. The way they think and talk about food will change the way you think about food, at least for twenty three minutes at a time. Their dedication to food, to ingredients is complete.

Recently I was talking to a friend about deconstruction of food. It is something that chefs and cooks like to play with, and it can be a fun game to play even in the abstract, but watching David Chang and Sean Brock deconstruct a hot brown, really pushes the concept.  This in the gluttony episode, which absolutely lives up to its name! The meal they eat at Joe Beef in Montreal was both wondrous and appalling in its excess; I can’ imagine getting through a meal like that, where the last course is the (in)famous double down, which is two good size slabs of foie gras, floured and deep fried, and sandwiched between them some bacon and house smoked cheddar, and pulverized crisped chicken skin…

courtesy of

courtesy of

If you’re still with me, then perhaps you’ll forgive my evangelical zeal for this show, and I’m guessing you’re going to watch at least an episode or two. Please let me know what you think, and if you find it as fascinating as I do.

Is there a food or cooking show that has changed the way you think about food?



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  • August 7, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Ryan Boudreaux - Thanks for turning me on to this show, I need to watch it soon.

    Bon appetite!

    • August 7, 2014 - 8:46 am - Ryan, please let me know if you like it! I am almost done with season 1, and season 2 starts with a new chef, so I hope I still love it as much! David Chang simply rocks my world!ReplyCancel

  • August 7, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    Peggy Gilbey McMackin - Looks great Nancy, I plan on giving it a try. As far as inspiring TV cooking programs, I much prefer the calmer, instructional shows, but anything that provides insight with some intelligence, depth, and sometimes, even practicality, is good.ReplyCancel

  • August 8, 2014 - 4:17 pm

    Suzanne Gray - “This is emotionally delicious” has to be the greatest food description ever!

    And this show sounds right up my alley. It’s cold and rainy here this weekend and our cookout for tomorrow night just got cancelled. Perfect time to curl up with a good food show! Thanks Nancy!ReplyCancel

    • August 8, 2014 - 4:29 pm - I know right? I hope you love it as much as I do, Suzanne, please let me know what you think!
      BTW, I am going to see The Hundred FOot Journey this weekend, so I’ll let you know how I like it.ReplyCancel

  • September 18, 2014 - 6:57 am

    Momofuku Milk Bar’s Corn Cookies » Chefs Last Diet - […] the Mind of a Chef,  in episode #14 of season one, Christina Tosi makes corn cookies, and as soon as I saw this I […]ReplyCancel

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