Are we as greedy for new cooking competition shows as Netflix is for dominating basically every genre of TV? The Final Table, which premiered on November 20, is testing out that question. But before you decide if you're willing to invest your time in one more cookoff, here's everything you need to know about it.
The most distinguishing characteristic of The Final Table is that the 24 contestants are some of the hottest chefs in the world. Many of them already have Michelin stars. Some of them have turned down other cooking shows. They include Americans Aaron Bludorn (Café Boulud), Timothy Hollingsworth (Otium), Johnny Spero (Reverie), Ronald Hsu, and Esdras Ochoa (11 Westside). The others hail from Scotland, India, Mexico, Hong Kong, Spain, Japan, South Africa, and basically too many places to list here.
The contestants are paired into teams of two based on their culinary styles. Each of the first nine episodes focuses on a specific country: Mexico, Spain, England, Brazil, France, Japan, the U.S., India, and Italy. (Unfortunately, all of this takes place in one large, flashy studio, not the countries whose food they're attempting to make.) The teams make a dish to be judged by basically the greatest chef from that country, as well as a food critic from the country and two famous "ambassadors." Those ambassadors include folks like Dax Shepard, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Cat Deeley, to add a little bit of glitz to the proceedings. A team is eliminated in each episode until the finale. That's when the remaining four chefs have to compete against each other.
Zero cash, but presumably all the bragging rights. It's really all about giving these chefs a chance to cook for the greatest in their field.
The critical response:
Not many outlets have bothered to give a full review of the show yet. While some have been excited about this as yet another example of Netflix reinventing a genre, others have given a great big yawn.
"Something must have persuaded these chefs to appear on The Final Table, but I’m not sure what it is yet. I still refuse to rule out the possibility of blackmail," wrote The Guardian.
The allure, to us, is the allure of many of these cooking shows: To see talented people be talented, and to learn a little bit about the talented people of places to which we've only so far dreamed of traveling. It's worth trying a little taste, at least.