Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Celebrity Chefs Go Nuclear and the Full English Takes a Frightful Beating

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Celebrity Chefs Go Nuclear and the Full English Takes a Frightful Beating

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sexton The Viewer

The Final Table Netflix NETFLIX aims to take us to the movies even when it comes to cookery shows. The Final Table the entire first series of 10 hour-long episodes has just dropped this week is simply the most grandiose celebrity chef contest that has ever been made.

No fewer than "24 of the best chefs in the world", as if they were culinary superheroes, have been assembled, in 12 teams of two, each team being assigned a vast workstation within a gigantic arena, constructed at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. There are floor-to-ceiling LED screens, spacey lighting effects and zippy camera angles from above.

From an elevated stage, like the bridge of an intergalactic cruiser, a bouncy presenter Andrew Knowlton, editorat-large of Bon Appetit comperes. In each episode, the chefs have to cook their own version of a country's national dish, starting with Mexico (tacos), Spain (paella), and the UK (full English breakfast). Their efforts are judged by three more or less starry "ambassadors", or imported arses, from that country, including a food critic in the UK's case these samplers are Gary Lineker, Cat Deeley and Jay Rayner, in Mexico's they include a retired boxer for whom nothing is quite spicy or, as he says, punchy enough.

One of the dishes is voted the best and then the chefs responsible for the three worst ones are made to enter a sadistic knock-out round, "cooking for survival". A "legendary" chef from the country in question comes on to set a challenge (making the most of a typical ingredient) and take over the judging in the UK's case this star being Clare Smyth, current holder of two Michelin stars at Core, who chooses the English pea. Each episode ends then with a humiliating dismissal.

Why already highly successful, widely admired chefs would wish to subject themselves to such a contest is not clear, the eventual prize being merely to join the legendary chefs at table, not cash. …

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