For Season 5 of Chef’s Table, Netflix dig past the surface of the fine-dining world to reveal remarkable chefs and cuisines whose stories have for too long been hidden.

  • Cristina Martinez, as an undocumented immigrant, has had to live under the radar purely for survival, all the while serving her delicious authentic barbacoa to the residents of south Philly. She now advocates for the huge number of undocumented workers that make our restaurant system function.
  • Albert Adria was behind many of the ground breaking creations of the world's most influential restaurant, El Bulli, but lived in the shadow of his older brother Ferran, who became the world’s most celebrated chef.
  • Musa Dağdeviren documents and preserves the vast array of flavours and cooking styles of Turkey, creating a shared culinary culture across sharp ethnic and political divides.
  • Bo Songvisava reclaims and revives farming techniques and recipes nearly forgotten in the globalization of popular Thai food.

South Philly Barbacoa - PHILADELPHIA, USA
Directed by Abigail Fuller

Cristina Martinez’s restaurant, South Philly Barbacoa, which she runs with her husband of five years, Ben Miller, was the biggest surprise on last year’s Bon Appetit Best New Restaurants list: it serves lamb tacos on homemade tortillas with a bowl of consommé, starting at 5am on the weekends. But Cristina Martinez’s mastery of barbacoa is second-to-none in the United States, and Martinez and Miller are using her platform to advocate for an issue near and dear to their hearts: immigration reform.

Martinez is an undocumented immigrant to the United States, and, having entered the country to escape her abusive ex-husband, she is unable to apply for a green card without returning to Mexico and remaining for 10 years. Martinez spent a year sleeping on couches and working 2-3 jobs at a time to send money back to her daughter, so that she could attend nursing school. She found her way to Philadelphia, where she put her mastery of barbacoa to work (the craft of barbacoa has been in her family for generations).

In 2012, she met Miller when the pair were working at a local restaurant. Martinez was fired after her immigration status was revealed, and to continue to support her daughter she and Miller began cooking together from their one-bedroom apartment. Over the past 4 years, she’s graduated from cooking from her home, to a food truck, to a brick and mortar restaurant, to the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the country.

Now Miller and Martinez are focused on giving a voice to the nearly 25% of kitchen workers that are undocumented immigrants. They hope other chefs will join in their mission. As Miller says, if the best chefs in the world tell the truth about the people that make the restaurant industry run, the world might be quicker to change.

Now Miller and Martinez are focused on pressuring their fellow chefs to supporting the nearly 25% of kitchen workers that are undocumented immigrants. As Miller says, if the best chefs in the world tell the truth about the people that make the restaurant industry run, the world might be quicker to change.

Directed by Jimmy Goldblum

Albert Adria is the man behind the curtain — one of the geniuses behind the ground-breaking, revolutionary, iconic El Bulli, ...which was run by Albert’s older brother, the legendary chef Ferran Adria.

It was Albert who led the El Bulli Taller, a radical research and development test kitchen, which created the crazy techniques and dishes that set El Bulli apart from any other restaurant ever created. Among its famous creations was the spherified olive, a process of liquifying and reconstituting a Spanish olive, which became a milestone innovation in the world of avant-garde cuisine.

Since El Bulli’s closure, it has been Albert who has stepped into the spotlight, with his tapas bar Tickets, a restaurant that combines whimsical Spanish circus traditions with a joyful celebration of Catalan vermouth culture.

Now, as Albert prepares to launch his final hi-end restaurant project, an ambitious reinvention of the tasting menu experience titled Enigma, the world is beginning to take notice of a younger brother often forgotten.

This is the story of one of the greatest chefs in the world who has simultaneously succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, yet remains in the shadow of the man who many think is the greatest chef of all time: his brother.

Directed by Clay Jeter

Musa Dağdeviren is not a fine dining chef — he is a chef of the people, a historian, and a cultural ambassador. For him, his restaurants are simultaneously an ‘ethnographic museum’ and a ‘garden of lost cultures and forgotten tastes’ — that is to say, both nourishing and delicious as well as informative and important to retaining a sense of Turkey’s individuality. He wants to, through his cuisine, break through the ethnic, nationalist, religious, and political divisions in Turkey.

Musa’s connection to food is deep and intense — he started working in an Uncle’s bakery at age 5, and, after his father passed away suddenly when Musa was 12, he began working full time in restaurants to support his family. His mother’s food became the touchstone for him, and it was her dishes that made him begin to think about what Turkey as a country was losing with the passing of older generations.
After a long period of apprenticeship (in Turkey you spend 6 years as a dishwasher and after that period of time, either graduate to cooking or stay a dishwasher forever), he opened his first restaurant in 1987. Right away he began using his restaurant as a way to bring the home cooking of the entire country into the restaurant dining scene (crossing the boundaries between home and restaurant food is rare in Turkey).

Now Musa travels all over Turkey working with local elders and to keep alive old traditions and recipes, saving them for the future — as Turkey's restaurant culture has turned to Europe and the modern world, many of the defining local specialties have disappeared. As Musa himself says, you must save history before it needs reviving... at that point, it’s already lost. Musa is about bringing people of different backgrounds together to celebrate the shared history of Turkey's (and the wider region's) incredible but endangered food culture. Rather than trying to reinvent his food culture, like so many modern chefs are doing around the world, Musa is focused on trying to document that food culture while he still can, while there are still people alive who remember it.

Directed by Andrew Fried

Bo Songvisava is doing something radically different with her Thai cuisine at Bo.lan in Bangkok — she’s devoted to slow food, the organic movement that’s famous across Europe and America that focuses on quality and indigenous ingredients over high-yield industrial crops and genetically altered crops. Songvisava is helping lead the charge towards sustainable and ethical farming in Thailand, along the way discovering indigenous vegetables and herbs that have fallen out of favor for use in restaurant cuisine — in that sense, she is rediscovering Thai cuisine itself.

Songvisava’s personal story is as interesting as her cuisine — she travelled abroad from Thailand to London to work under British chef and Thai cuisine master David Thompson at his restaurant Nahm, where she met her future husband, Dylan Jones, an Australian. She and Dylan fell in love and moved back to Bangkok together where they teamed up to open their dream restaurant, Bo.lan.  It’s rare in Asia for a female chef to be so outspoken, but Songvisava considers it her duty to try to change the perception of Thai food worldwide - it’s not just pad thai and sticky rice. Songvisava has sprung unto the worldwide stage recently as she was named the Best Female Chef in Asia in 2013 and Bo.Lan became known as one of the best restaurants in the world.


SEASON 6: 2019

Season 6 is about the journey home.
  • Mashama Bailey returns to Georgia, her place of birth, to open a new restaurant drawing on the knowledge and culinary history of the Southern African American chefs who came before her.
  • Aspiring veterinarian Dario Ceccini returns to save his family’s butchery business and becomes the world’s most famous butcher.
  • Asma Khan abandons a career in British constitutional law to return to India to extract the secret recipes of her family’s Royal Muglai roots.
  • Sean Brock, who has devoted his career to preserving southern food crops and culinary traditions, is finally forced to reckon with personal demons that threaten his life.

Directed by Abigail Fuller

After culinary school she found a mentor in Prune chef Gabrielle Hamilton, the first female chef Bailey had the opportunity to work for. Hamilton’s food was simple, direct and delicious. After three years at Hamilton’s side, Mashama was recommended to a restauranteur looking for a partner for a new restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.

Bailey was sceptical when she travelled to Savannah, thinking that ‘things [like the job offer] don’t happen to people like her.’ The space, a former Greyhound bus station that had existed through the Jim Crow period and been renovated into a restaurant with nods to its checkered history, convinced her.
Once she dug in as chef, however, she struggled to find her footing — she was cooking in a New York style at first, and not embracing the history around her. It was when she discovered the farmers and food ways of coastal Georgia communities that things began to click for Bailey. She focused her food on seasonality, looked back at African American traditions and ingredients,, and looked at recipes from mentors like Southern Food icon, Edna Lewis for inspiration. She had found her voice.

A James Beard Semi finalist in 2018, Mashama continues to write a new story for the old Greyhound station, and contributes an important point of view on the rich history of American food.

Antica Macellaria Cecchini - PANZANO, ITALY
Directed by Jimmy Goldblum

Dario Cecchini is the world’s greatest butcher. Operating out of his family’s butcher shop in the small Tuscan town of Panzano, Dario continues 250 years of family butchery history, and has expanded into a tiny empire including a steakhouse, a burger shop and two more restaurants.

But Dario never intended to be a butcher — ironically, he was studying to be a veterinarian when his mother and father passed away a short time apart from each other. He returned home, his only choice to continue the family legacy as a butcher, and spent the next decade learning how to butcher meat from a local legend nicknamed ‘the Maestro.’

Dario is devoted to doing things the old-fashioned way, and advocates for using the whole animal--from hoofs to eyeballs--out of respect for the life and sacrifice each animal makes. He is also a devotee of Dante, Shakespeare and Opera, and music and poetry recitations often accompany the meal, with Dario emerging from the kitchen blaring his trumpet and announcing his catchphrase “To BEEF or not to beef? That is the question!”

Darjeeling Express - LONDON, ENGLAND
Directed by Zia Mandviwalla

Asma Khan was born a second daughter to a royal family in Aligarh, India. Being a second daughter comes with its own baggage in India - it’s normally a huge disappointment for families to have more than a single daughter; with boys come dowries and prestige.

It was at her sister’s wedding that Khan first got the cooking bug. Sent to assist the cooks by her mother, Khan, who had no idea how to even boil an egg, helped her family’s team of chefs make Kolkata dum biryani: layers of rice, mutton, potatoes, saffron and spices covered with a dough seal and heated over a wood re for 12 hours. She still remembers the smell, and knew she wanted to cook for a living. Instead, she got married, moved to Cambridge with her husband (who claimed to be a great cook), and became a constitutional law scholar, completing a law degree and obtaining a PhD. Khan quickly discovered that her husband was actually a terrible cook, and spurred on by the need to eat better, began to learn her family’s recipes. Soon, she’d made up her mind to leave the legal world and join the food world. As Khan put it: “Indian women spend their lives doing things to please other people. I was born with those chains, now I’m not in chains.”

She researched the 1930s style of Royal Nawabi/Mughal cuisine, mastering four generations of recipes, and began a private supper club called Darjeeling Express. Assisted in the kitchen by only female home cooks, Darjeeling took London by storm. After years of running the pop-up, she opened a brick and mortar location in 2017, which immediately was hailed as one of the best restaurants in London. Khan has become one of the superstars of the UK dining scene, a scene she never thought she’d be a part of.

At one point, somewhat randomly, Khan realized that almost every woman in her kitchen was also a second daughter. It gave her restaurant even more purpose — proceeds from her cooking would go to a foundation support second daughters back home in India. “I want a second girl to know that when she gets pushed around— ‘Everyone cried when you were born, nobody loves you...she needs to know that, very far away, there’s a kitchen full of second daughters. I want parents to understand the second daughter may become someone amazing. People may write about her. Talk about their family. Honor her and don’t make her feel like she has to constantly justify her existence.”

Kudzu Compound - Nashville, USA
Directed by Clay Jeter

Sean Brock has made it his life’s work to investigate the past and develop the future of southern cuisine using international high-end cooking techniques. He’s comfortable with his down to earth, humble routes, and because of that is approaching the fine dining world from a unique point of view.

After Brock’s father died when he was 11, his grandmother introduced him to the world of old-school southern food, full of pickled and preserved ingredients. Brock became obsessed, and despite growing up in a coal-mining town with no restaurants, he went on to take over McGrady’s, a classic Charleston institution, and started the wildly popular Husk. In a recent change after our episode was completed, Sean has resigned from his previous role with both restaurants to focus on new projects in Nashville, which will include an Appalachian restaurant.

Part high-end chef, part culinary detective, Brock spends his free time tracking down heirloom seeds, researching old-school southern recipes, and working with a team of farmers to produce crops of truly authentic southern ingredients — saving southern culture while putting delicious food on the table. This episode also includes a fight against his own demons battling addiction, in addition to a health mystery that nearly blinded him.

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