The protagonists of Identità Talk - Chef's Table, the revolution on TV, at Identità Milano 2023: left to right Corrado Assenza, Franco Pepe, Dario Cecchini, Gabriele Bonci, Brian McGinn (executive producer and director of Chef's Table), Faith Willinger, Paolo Marchi and Niccolò Vecchia, who moderated the debate. All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
Getting to the guts. It is not the passage of a recipe but the conclusion of a speech. On the stage of Identità Milano 2023 the themes covered included cooking on television. In particular, a touching focus on Chef's Table, a documentary series developed for Netflix, where each episode narrates the life and career of a world-famous food personality. A true TV revolution explained by Brian McGinn, author and executive producer of the programme, and journalist Faith Willinger, one of the authors of the series.
"Chef's Table has changed the way food is portrayed on television," McGinn said, "because we did not just tell the story of dishes, but we decided to go in depth by entering the philosophy of life of the individual protagonist of each episode. This is a revolution compared to the past because, in the Netflix TV series, apart from the technical notions, we observe the world from the chef's point of view with attention to aesthetics and ethics. We gets to the guts. And this is a real revolution for cooking programmes.
Faith Willinger under the eyes of Brian McGinn
The testimonies of four of the five Italian protagonists of as many episodes of the series were particularly heartfelt. Corrado Assenza, chef and soul of Caffè Sicilia in Noto, recalled: 'Brian McGinn's first breakfast relaxing in my restaurant was at the end of filming, when a great friendship was also born. After a year, he came back and that day Caffè Sicilia was so full that there was no place to have breakfast either at the tables or at the counter: all the people who were there at that moment did not know that he was the first person responsible for that success”.
David Gelb, the other creator and executive producer of Chef's Table, stranded in Los Angeles by force majeure, sent a video message
“Meeting the Chef's Table team was devastating for me,” says Gabriele Bonci, baker and owner of Pizzarium in Rome - It was a fortnight in which they unpacked my life. During the two breaks we sat on a terrace talking until it came out who I really was. It was definitely a great opportunity. I was brave, I took the challenge and it's an experience I would definitely do again. McGinn echoed him: “The episode on Bonci was one of the most intense: a story of pride, courage and personal growth.”
This is the real revolution of cooking on TV, the real revolution of Chef's Table: narrating kitchens, narrating lives. Getting into the souls of protagonists and viewers. It takes all this to get to the guts.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Born in 1974 near Naples, now living further south, he’s a sommelier and coffee taster convinced that those born in Vico Equense like him have a gourmet imprinting by birth. He lives, writes and organises events in Palermo, but eats and drinks everywhere
All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
Paolo Marchi’s words representing the Identità Milano 2023 congress. All photos from Brambilla-Serrani