Pizza is a tantalizing documentary series about pizza makers-Entertainment News, Firstpost

ChiefThe Table: Pizza, created by David Gelb, is the most appetizing documentary series I have ever watched. Streaming on Netflix, it shows how much-loved pizza isn’t just fast food but an art form. Chefs bring their own traditions, recipes, personalities and stories. The series includes six of them – Gabriele Bonci, Ann Kim, Chris Bianco, Yoshihiro Imai, Franco Pepe and Sarah Minnick. Their creativity is not limited to the toppings they use; it’s about getting the right flour, making a sauce from scratch, using good quality ingredients, and cooking at the most appropriate temperature so the flavors, textures, and aromas stand out.

Five different directors worked on this series of six episodes. Abigail Fuller, Clay Jeter, Zia Mandviwalla and Danny O’Malley directed one episode each. Brian McGinn directed two episodes. All these six episodes come together to form a harmonious whole. They capture all the work and sweat it takes to create pizzas loved and savored.

Although this series is about food, it’s not something you want to binge. It’s worth savoring slowly, one episode at a time without any rush, as each episode has a strong emotional core. It is not easy to move quickly from one story to another. The documentary series explores why and how pizza became so central to the lives of these chefs, and also explores their relationships with their families and communities. More importantly, the series gives these chefs the opportunity to talk about their innermost feelings.

Chris Bianco, the chef who shot to fame with Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona, tells how his childhood asthma caused him to spend a lot of time indoors and become a blessing in disguise since learning to cook with his mother and grandmother. Watch this series to find out what makes him “the Yoda of the pizza oven” and why reputable food critics believe his pizza is the best not only in the United States of America but in the entire world.

Bonci, who runs Pizzarium Bonci in Rome, Italy, doesn’t consider himself just a pizza maker. He says, “I farm. In every bite of my pizza, there are square meters of farmland. This man cares deeply about sourcing from and building relationships with small-scale farmers. He believes that consumption should be an ethical and thoughtful activity.

“Pizza is one of those things that brings people together,” says Kim, who runs Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis, USA. She believes in the power of food to help people overcome their differences when sharing a meal. As a Korean-born person in the United States, she enjoys expressing her cultural identity through her cuisine. She bakes kimchi-inspired pizzas that honor the tastes and smells of her mother’s and grandmother’s traditional recipes that she was once terribly ashamed of because her school lunch set her apart from others.

Imai, who runs a restaurant called Monk in Kyoto, Japan, says he was addicted to baking bread while in college. He found that whenever he cooked, he was free from worries. When he told his parents he wanted to pursue this interest professionally, they were angry with him. Eventually they came back when they saw how hard he worked.

Franco Pepe, who runs Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo, Italy, shares how his father’s death shaped his personal trajectory with pizza. He and his brothers inherited a pizzeria when the patriarch died. While his brothers wanted to continue replicating what their father did, Pepe wanted to innovate. The conflict got ugly, and he started his own pizzeria. Watch the episode to find out how the broken bonds were slowly and lovingly mended.

“People feel like there are real limits to pizza. Pizza is an expression of a pizza maker. Everyone should explore that for themselves,” says Minnick, who runs Lovely’s Fifty Fifty. is a pizzeria and ice cream parlor in Portland, Oregon – a part of the United States that is not as famous for pizza as New York. Minnick wants to change perceptions. She says, “I would be very bored doing the same pizza every day.” Her desire to experiment has led her to create pizzas that use flowers, peaches, raisins, amaranth and fenugreek as toppings.

If you don’t like trying unusual pizza toppings, wait until you see what the other chefs on this show are doing. They use pistachios, taro root, venison, blue potatoes, trout, foie gras and salt mackerel. All chefs are very aware of their individuality and idiosyncrasies. Some of their choices are related to childhood memories, others to whims; others are based on what is available in the market, the garden, the forest or the hills.

The biggest strength of this series is its feel-good factor. It features stunning images of food being prepared, served and eaten in the company of loved ones. It contains moving personal stories of people finding their calling and achieving dreams despite the obstacles in their path. It has a good mix of insightful and entertaining interview snippets featuring food critics. It also shows how the act of cooking can be imbued with so much love that the person offering the meal and the person receiving it are both fundamentally transformed by this interaction.

Chintan Girish Modi is a writer, journalist and educator who tweets @chintanwriting

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