‘The Final Table’ delights


If you like cooking, eating, and Netflix, I highly recommend you watch “The Final Table.” The first season was released on Nov. 20, 2018. I started watching “The Final Table” when people start watching most things on Netflix: while extremely bored and procrastinating.

Personally, I was in the mood for a show that included a competition with talented people, and without petty drama and cringeworthy second-hand embarrassment. “The Final Table” is the perfect show for this. The show starts with ten teams of two, situated in an arena-like setting with their own little kitchen. Behind all of the kitchens is a “store” filled with every ingredient the chefs could want. You are then introduced to Andrew Knowlton, the host, and all of the chefs.

The chefs compete in pairs, and they are paired with a chef they knew from their life before the competition. The 12 pairs of chefs come from all over the world, Australia, Scotland, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, America and more.

In the season’s final episode, the remaining pairs break up, and the finalists compete as solo chefs. And as you are introduced to them, you learn that every chef is extremely talented and accomplished, having high-end restaurants and “Michelin Stars.”  I didn’t even know what a Michelin star was, but it turns out it’s a hard-to-get-super-impressive-restaurant-award. I compared it to the stars above Linguini’s restaurant in Ratatouille. In the movie “Ratatouille,” the chefs are trying to get good reviews so they can be a five-star restaurant, just like the “Michelin Star.”

Each episode takes you and the chefs to a different country from around the world. The first challenge is to cook the country’s national dish within one hour for three judges, who are always composed of high-end food critics and celebrities native to the country.

I found myself engaged in learning about the food culture in each country and was in awe at the delicious diversity. Due to the chefs’ diverse background, the country can completely determine how they perform in the challenge.

For example, the first country was Mexico, and the national dish chosen was the taco. A chef from Japan, Shin Takagi, hadn’t had a taco in thirty years. But he counteracted this disadvantage by incorporating some Japanese elements into his taco (and the taco looked really good), and it became one of the critics’ favorites. The challenges are extremely difficult as the chefs have one hour to create a recipe off of the top of their head, make the food, and make it perfect, and they sometimes have no idea where to start with the dish.

The bottom three who fail to impress the judges must cook again, for one of the chefs already seated at “The Final Table” (which is not just the name of the show but the name of the reward). The winner of the show earns a spot at the Final Table with nine other culinary icons. The chefs in the bottom all start to freak out when Andrew starts describing the judge before he has even said their name, and I’ve never heard of them. In the final challenge, the bottom three teams must cook with a native ingredient, which is sometimes harder than the national dish. In the end, the chefs are judged again, and one is eliminated.

The show “The Final Table” is engaging, educational, and intense. The chefs are fun to watch and their talent is extraordinary. I really enjoyed watching the chefs move on from challenge to challenge and feel sad when anyone gets voted off. I would choose “The Final Table” over any other cooking show. I actually finished the show, and have tried other shows like it, but the fast pace and high level of cooking and challenges in “The Final Table” are unmatched, and I haven’t found another show like it.

The only real downfall to the show is that it leaves you extremely hungry and craving food that you don’t have access to and can’t afford. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a show while bored or procrastinating, or both, that you try this show. The first season of “The Final Table” is available on Netflix. It has 10 episodes each about 50 – 60 minutes long.