The Mind of a Chef

There’s this awesome PBS show called “The Mind of a Chef” that’s being shown on Netflix.  According to the website and wiki, it’s a documentary about a chef and his/her inspiration into cooking.  I’m currently watching Season 1 which stars David Chang of Momofuku Restaurant Group fame.  One of his restaurants apparently is a 2 Michelin Star restaurant.

Of the 10 episodes I’ve watched so far, his love of ramen is evident.  It honestly makes me want to go out to have some ramen and tsukemen at some of the local ramen shops in the neighborhood.  But as the show dives into his inspirations, I find his passion for cooking is amazing.  I was surprised that he even lectured at Harvard in the pork/buta-bushi episode.  Granted most of the biology was covered by microbiologists at Harvard but to go so far as to try to understand the process of what makes pork/buta-bushi unique at a scientific level shows passion.

I’m almost done with season 1.  I’m going to go find myself a hearty bowl of tonkotsu ramen…

(Dis)Honesty

I’ve heard of Dan Ariely from Freakonomics.  Freakonomics talks about his Behavioral Economics research quite “freakwently” (see what i did there!?) on a number of different topics that range from lying, dating, paying taxes and even quitting.

Imagine my surprise that there’s this Netflix documentary called (Dis)honesty: The Truth about Lies.  This documentary is an in depth dive about lying.  It’s like an extended TedTalk (a TedDoc!).  Ariely will talk about some principle from his research followed by real occurrences of the principle in action taken from society.  The behavioral experiments in the lab leads to more discoveries about the social interactions and gives potential insight on why lying/cheating/dishonesty happens.

This is a pretty great documentary about lying and dishonesty and their effects on the person committing the act of dishonesty.

Mmmm Steak….

This Netflix documentary called Steak Revolution is amazing.  The show documents the many different ways beef is valued in different parts of the world.   For example, the French do not like to have their steaks marbled while Japan prefer to have their steaks to be nicely marbled.  The difference lies in how each culture views beef and views fat.  That’s pretty fascinating.

As a side note, I should try Peter Luger’s one of these days.  That steak house was mentioned multiple times by breeders, butchers, chefs and beef connoisseurs as where they ate the “best steak” ever.

Terrace House: Boys & Girls In the City

For the past few days, I’ve been watching this Netflix show called Terrace House: Boys and Girls In the City.  The show is an unscripted Japanese reality TV show about 3 men and 3 women living in a house while cameras record their interactions.  It’s almost like America’s MTV Real World show that somehow doesn’t devolve into screaming matches and one-upsmanship.  I think Japan is probably the only place where politeness and courtesy is still respected while in the middle of heated arguments.

Aside from the show itself, there are a group of commentators that comment on the events in the show.  They’re mainly interested in the human relationships between the different housemates.  Sometimes the commentary is hilarious as they try to dissect the thoughts and emotions of the housemates interacting with each other.  The raw emotions the housemates experience seems to be real.  Some of the facial expressions cannot be faked especially when housemates announce suddenly that they’ll be leaving.  I don’t know how much footage gets recorded but every week gets edited down to approximately 30 minutes.

My favorite housemate would have to be Misaki.  She has a great smile.

Samurai Gourmet

On Netflix, there is this short “slice of life” TV series called Samurai Gourmet.  It’s a pretty short show (about 20 min per episode) about a retired Japanese salary man (re)discovering the pleasures of eating out at different restaurants.  The lead actor’s facial expression is clearly exaggerated when he eats at these different restaurants.  But this exaggeration helps drive the nostalgic experiences and memories about eating the food.  This adds to the “slice of life” feeling that drives show.

The interesting twist in this show is the appearance of 18th/19th century wandering samurai.  The samurai motif comes into play at critical junctures in each episode that ends up deflecting the “artificially built up tension” and have it resolved in a positive manner.  It’s interesting to note that I think Japan is the only place where where loud, rude, obnoxious guests would later apologize for their behavior to bring about a happy ending.

If you have Netflix, it’s worth maybe 2-3 hours of your time.  If anything, the food porn isn’t too bad.