Favreau returns with chef Roy Choi for another course of delicious food and relatable tricks of the culinary trade in The Chef Show.
Binging television is like eating food. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a five-course feast. Other times you’re satisfied with a familiar snack straight out of the bag. And let’s be honest, during this pandemic we’ve probably all been searching for comfort in both TV and food. Arriving just in time for a binge TV treat is chef Roy Choi and writer/director/food enthusiast Jon Favreau in Volume 4 of Netflix’s The Chef Show. This duo is back with more action, dropping in on culinary friends, and cooking up fun meals in the kitchen.
The Chef Show stands out amongst other cooking/travel shows in that it’s a spin-off from a feature film — Favreau’s 2014 indie, Chef. Favreau wrote, directed, produced, and starred as a disgruntled chef who leaves his fancy LA chef job for a food truck, hitting the road to rediscover his passion for cooking. Choi, who was a co-producer on the film, whipped Favreau into shape to accurately play the role. They took the success of Chef and spun it off into cooking/travel series The Chef Show in 2019. In each volume (read: seasons), Choi and Favreau hang out and cook with other chefs and culinary heroes, learning new tricks of the trade while dishing out amazing creations.
Volume 4 opens with our heroes acting like kids in a literal candy shop. They’re at Milk Bar with chef Christina Tosi making their version of a bake sale. While Choi and Favreau have tackled some sweet recipes in previous seasons with mixed results (fans may remember their failed attempt at Cafe du Monde’s beignets in Volume 1), they’re ready to make layered cakes, classic cookies, and a funky grasshopper pie. They’re on a roll when Favreau runs out of frosting for his cake. But fear not: It’s Tosi to the rescue, giving him an extra tub of vanilla frosting to complete the cake mission. While Tosi may have saved a cake, the true hero of the episode is Choi, who suggests adding Reese’s Pieces to their chocolate chip cornflake cookies. Choi is the cookie revolutionary we need!
When they’re not visiting other chefs, they’re back in Favreau’s man cave kitchen testing out recipes. Whereas most chef hosts will perform for the camera, Favreau and Choi are just chilling out and cooking together. The cameras just happen to be recording. These episodes are very engaging, capturing moments like Choi and Favreau discussing how food history compares with film history while forming giant meatballs for their Italian recipes. These episodes are the most filling, seeing the duo and their giddy delight after taking a bite of their mouth-watering creations. I could watch Choi and Favreau giggle and dance after eating their “late-night” cheeseburger on loop.
A common theme in The Chef Show is weaving high cuisine culture and low concepts. When they’re making cookies with Tosi, they use fancy dark vanilla extract and just your basic store-bought mini marshmallows. Sure, the vanilla is fancy, but sometimes you can’t improve the basic marshmallow, so don’t try! When they’re baking with chef Chris Bianco, they ask if they’re making pizza or focaccia, to which Bianco replies, “Flatbread.” Flatbread might sound boring, but if you toss some lemons, cheddar, and marinated onions on it, it makes you say, “Oh shit, that looks good,” as you watch them toss that pillowy loaf of gooey goodness into the oven.
In previous seasons of The Chef Show, Choi and Favreau toured around the country, visiting chefs and sampling cuisines from all over the USA. While I was hoping Volume 4 would eventually get out of Los Angeles (spoiler alert: it doesn’t), I’m still willing to bunker down on my sofa and see Choi, Favreau, and their chef friends whip up some treats in the kitchen.
I could watch Choi and Favreau giggle and dance after eating their “late-night” cheeseburger on loop.
The benefit of staying in one city seems to allow The Chef Show to focus more on the chefs and their food and, aside from Milk Bar, they don’t really name the restaurants they visit. The real stars are the chefs and their food, not the brick and mortar spaces. When you see Choi, Favreau, and the company in the kitchen, it’s like a moment at a house party where everyone crowds in the kitchen to hang out. That’s the epitome of high and low: breaking down the hoity-toity fine cuisine culture to a relatable cooking session with some friends.
At five episodes, you can binge Volume 4 and not feel overstuffed. While other volumes of The Chef Show might be more exciting, Choi and Favreau have found a recipe that works. They’re not afraid to let some chef aprons and cameras get in the way of being relatable pals, just having a fun time cooking up delicious dishes. It’s comfort food TV that will leave you waiting for the next round of episodes to return.
The Chef Show whips up tasty treats for Volume 4 on Netflix on September 24th.