A version of this post originally appeared on September 13, 2019, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.
If you like watching famous people cook food, the good news is that a brand new season of The Chef Show is now streaming on Netflix. Here are some notes on that show, plus a roundup of the week’s food-related entertainment news.
Another round of star-studded recipes with Roy and Jon
All too often, Hollywood “passion projects” tend to be underwhelming excursions from A-Listers who want to show off some esoteric interest — but that’s not the case with The Chef Show, a new cooking series starring writer/actor/filmmaker Jon Favreau and chef/author/TV host Roy Choi. In every cooking scene, it’s clear that these famous friends love working together in the kitchen and take delight in demystifying the finer points of restaurant cookery for the rest of us. The second half of Season 1 — out today on Netflix — is just as entertaining and informative as the first round of episodes, with a few surprises thrown into the mix.
While much of the first half of the series was devoted to recipe segments filmed in spacious, well-lit kitchens, the second half of Seaon 1 shows Roy and Jon going on a few excursions in Northern California. The fourth episode begins with the hosts clad in life preservers, gliding across the beautifully gray Tomales Bay on a motorboat en route to the Hog Island Oyster farm. After pulling the oyster cages from the water and whacking them with bats to loosen the shells, Roy and Jon head to Hog Island HQ in the tiny coastal town of Marshall, for a beachside feast of mussels in white wine sauce and barbecued oysters.
Unlike most travel sequences on food shows, there’s no explanation for why they’re going on this oyster adventure — and there doesn’t need to be either. The Chef Show, in its best moments, is all about Roy and Jon exploring their culinary curiosities, and in this episode, they simply decided to go all-in on oysters.
In the next episode, the hosts find themselves in another unusual locale: the sprawling Skywalker Ranch in Marin, California, where special effects for the Stars Wars movies and other big deal Hollywood projects are alchemized. Roy and Jon pluck vegetables and herbs from the garden with the help of farmer Lyn DeLlamas, and then go into the Victorian-style mansion’s kitchen with chef Mindy Schreil to prepare a farm-to-table feast that includes bacon-wrapped wagyu filets from cattle raised and butchered on the ranch. Who knew that some of Hollywood’s biggest movies were made inside a locavore utopia, 25 miles north of San Francisco? I did not.
In terms of star power, Volume 2 bats a bit lower than the first round — although the first episode does include a highly amusing fried and braised chicken tutorial featuring a perpetually chortling Seth Rogen. Two episodes are devoted to recipes from acclaimed chefs who many viewers outside the LA area might be unfamiliar with: Guerilla Tacos mastermind Wes Avila and Pizzana chef/owner Daniele Uditi. And the season concludes with scenes featuring Momofuku boss David Chang and vlogger Andrew Rea that appear to be leftovers from the first half of the season, but are entertaining nonetheless.
Midway through the third episode, I was reminded of my one main issue with this series from the first go-round: There are hardly any women in the The Chef Show. In the latter half of the season, Roy and Jon cook with two talented female chefs — Schreil and Hog Island’s Mariko Wilkinson — but considering how much the stars and their guests refer to cherished childhood memories of the mothers and grandmas who inspired their love of food, it seems especially odd that the show is almost exclusively a bro-down. My hope is that A) The Chef Show gets a second proper season. And that B) Roy and Jon take a note from their Netflix colleague Samin Nosrat and put more female chefs on camera — both as kitchen professionals and the women who inspired their mutual love of cooking.
All six episodes of The Chef Show, Season 1: Volume 2 are available on Netflix.
In other entertainment news
Have a great weekend everyone, and if you’re looking for a knock-out brunch dish this weekend, take a peek at Asma Khan’s recipe for masala omelettes.