When Samin Nosrat's book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, came out in 2017, it earned instant praise as a kind of perfect ur-cookbook, one that conveyed to people how to make really good food, not just recipes, without intimidating or boring them. This week, she's turning those lessons into a four-part TV series on Netflix (premiering October 11), and here's why we're excited for it:
The book was that good. Not only did Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat became a best-seller and win the James Beard Award, but it's also the kind of book that people keep turning back to. As Bon Appétit put it, it's a "permanent fixture" on the bookshelves of many who work for the magazine. The whole concept is that those four elements are essential to any good dish around the world, so if you can master them (while also making one of the 100 recipes included), you can cook. "I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book on cooking that was this useful or unusual," Michael Pollan, whom Nosrat actually taught, said in advance of its release.
Each of the four elements has its own episode and place. "Salt" takes place in Japan; "Fat" is in Italy; "Acid" is in Mexico; and "Heat" is in Berkeley. She visits both professionals and home cooks in each locale, so we'll be entertained visually as we're learning.
Nosrat's infectious energy is perfect for TV. The trailer for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat alone has Youtube commenters wishing they could be her friend. The Iranian-American 39-year-old grew up in California and learned to cook in the legendary kitchen of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She seems to relish each bite she takes on the show, laughing hysterically when eating something spicy. As she demonstrates her recipes, she even shares when things go wrong. And to showcase her personality, she teaches these dishes to a real person with her in the kitchen, not to the camera.
This is Netflix's first how-to cooking show. While the streaming service has been treating foodies to so-called "aspirational" shows like Chef's Table and The Great British Baking Show, and to the inspirational culinary adventures of Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown, this is something else. "So I kept thinking to myself, Why can’t I have a show that’s beautiful with incredible cinematic style with the beautiful filmmaking that gets this sensory inspiration across, but also serves to be accessible?" Nostrat told Grubstreet, adding that her goal is "To teach you and to make you feel when you’re done watching, you can go in the kitchen and do something now."
Nosrat's approach is inclusive. "I wanted to show the kinds of people who I didn't see ever in other food television," she told Bon Appétit. "Whenever possible, going deeper in the Google results to look for a woman, to look for a person of color, to look for a home cook. It wasn't always the most obvious person. It wasn't always the easiest person to locate, but those were things I knew I wanted to push for.”
Whet your appetite for the show with this trailer.