Chances are you’ve seen the Chef's Table, the new six part documentary series on Netflix featuring chefs from around the globe. The episodes are beautifully shot and edited. Nearly every scene is filmed during the golden hour, and a shallow depth of field is used liberally while shooting kitchens and food, giving the whole series a very cinematic feel.
The chefs are thoughtful and, to be expected, a bit ego centric. And while the episodes do sometimes feel like long advertisements for each chef, instead of honest documentaries, the series is really well done and I’ve found the chefs themselves to be super inspiring, especially Francis Mallmann.
His episode has stuck with me for sometime, and I find myself revisiting it in my mind frequently.
In almost each episode, each chef tells the story of how they got their break. Almost always it’s when they were down and out, and someone gave them a chance. It’s amazing how universal this is during the creative pursuit. You work so hard for so long, toiling, frustrated and eventually, it breaks.
Chef’s are of course the rockstars of our day. Music and food being two artistic creations we’re literally able to consume. The Beatles founding story - they played tons of gigs in Germany for months on end, honed their skills, then ran into Brian Epstein - is well known and told in detail Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. Almost every other popular musician, and chef, has the same thing, a break.
How important it is to remember this though: The big break is no accident. What we learn from the Chef’s Table, and the Beatles, is that the break happens after many years of study and hard work. Sure it seems sort of random and lucky and happenstance. But it’s not, at all.
“In order to grow and to improve you have to be there a bit at the edge of uncertainty,” says Mallman. ”You don’t grow on a secure path. All of us should conquer something in life, and it needs a lot of work, and it needs a lot of risk.”
The big break only comes after working and working and working for it. Go forth.