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From Gwyneth Paltrow to Wolfgang Puck: how Netflix's 'The Chef Show' became so popular with celebrities

The likes of Paltrow, Bill Burr, Robert Downey Jr, Seth Rogen, and plenty more have showcased their culinary talents on the show

Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, and Roy Choi in 'The Chef Show' (2019). Courtesy IMDb
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, and Roy Choi in 'The Chef Show' (2019). Courtesy IMDb

Those who have seen the first 14 episodes of The Chef Show, which were released over two volumes last year, will know exactly what to expect from its latest season. For those who don’t know, creator, director and co-presenter Jon Favreau invites his long list of celebrity pals to help make and then taste a wide variety of unpretentious yet deeply creative dishes, all with the help of renowned chefs, during which time they engage in eclectic conversation. It’s really that simple.

The likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Burr, Robert Downey Jr, Seth Rogen and Robert Rodriguez have showcased their culinary talents while being encouraged and interviewed by the innately engaging Favreau and his co-host Roy Choi, whose Kogi BBQ Taco Truck helped to kick-start the gourmet food truck movement in Los Angeles.

But if you thought Favreau had already burnt through his most suitable guests, the sight of Austrian-­American chef Wolfgang Puck berating him as he cooks an omelette in the first episode of The Chef Show: Volume 3 will immediately quash those concerns.

Over the course of the episode Puck repeatedly tells Favreau to add ingredients and use different utensils, before recalling how he began his restaurants in Las Vegas, all while Favreau ­legitimately tries to impress the chef. That’s understandable, because Favreau ­apparently made Puck an inedible omelette while preparing for 2014 film Chef, which inspired this show.

The delightfully no-­nonsense Puck is a sensational guest to kick-off the six new episodes of the show. He reveals various cooking titbits that any budding chef would benefit from and is allowed to take control of the episode. This mostly involves him making fun of Favreau, as there is clearly too much mutual respect between Puck and Choi for any criticism to be served up.

Robert Downey Jr and Tom Holland hav also been on the show. Courtesy IMDb
Robert Downey Jr and Tom Holland hav also been on the show. Courtesy IMDb

But while it is great to see Puck playing up to the cameras, it’s the food that’s the real star. And the first three episodes of Volume 3, shot in Las Vegas, showcase the more tasteful side of the city. After Puck cooks steaks and barbecue brisket, followed by a rather extravagant banana cream pie, we see modern takes on ceviche, tacos and Yucatan pork from Border Grill chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Neither are as brash as Puck, but their easy-to-follow breakdown of their recipes is a much better indication of what to expect from the show.

The third episode brings Choi front and centre, as it unfolds at his Las Vegas restaurant, Best Friend. As they make dishes such as uni dynamite rice and elote, as well as a bologna sandwich, a hot dog and dumplings, you get a real sense of Favreau and Choi’s friendship, with the pair exchanging stories about their professions that make you feel as though you’re there alongside them.

It’s during this episode that Favreau utters the mantra Choi lives by and that sums up what makes The Chef Show so appealing to audiences: “Work smart, not hard.” None of the dishes are needlessly complicated – they seem simple enough for the audience to replicate them.

Not every episode works so well, though, as watching Favreau and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi make sourdough bread is only for viewers with a deep interest in loaves

. But what

is intriguing in that episode are remarks from Favreau that suggest he only invited Raimi on to the show after going to his house for dinner and being underwhelmed by his sourdough bread. Not only does this provide a fascinating insight into the spontaneous way the show is put together, it suggests Favreau is a truly terrible dinner party guest.

In the penultimate episode, Choi and Favreau take a trip to LA’s famous Wexler’s Deli, while the series draws to a close with Pizzana chef Daniele Uditi and Sprinkles Cupcakes founder Candace Nelson showcasing their knowledge and wisdom.

With 20 episodes released in only eight months, Netflix and Favreau have clearly perfected the recipe for The Chef Show. As it goes from being comfort viewing to highly informative in a heartbeat, the show leaves culinary novices and experts craving more. Fingers crossed we only have to wait a few more months for a fourth volume to be released.

The Chef Show: Volume 3 will be released on Netflix today

Updated: February 18, 2020 07:55 PM

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