Welcome back to Friday afternoon, a time to close some tabs and start planning what you’re going to watch on TV this weekend. Here are recommendations for two shows and one movie to check out, plus a roundup of the week’s food-related entertainment news.
A great food story where you least expect it
By tracking the journey of a Tour de France team and the chefs who feed them, an unusual new Amazon series called Eat. Race. Win. finds the common ground between endurance sports and culinary obsession. This six-part series is an improbable hybrid of a cycling documentary and food-centric travel show, and there’s nothing else quite like it on TV right now.
The series focuses on the 2017 Tour de France saga of the Australian racing team Orica-Scott. Their meals are overseen by Hannah Grant, a Danish-born chef who worked at Noma in Copenhagen and the Fat Duck in England. As she explains several times in the first few episodes, Grant doesn’t just want to serve food that will nourish the members of the Orica-Scott team, she wants to provide what she calls “mental nutrition.” Part of her process involves scouring local farms and markets during the races to find what’s fresh and exciting to serve to the team that evening. “It’s about food tasting so good that you want to eat and stay in the game,” Grant remarks.
The chef runs her two food trucks like professional kitchens, and she approaches each challenge with an enthusiasm for the craft of cooking that you don’t often find in culinary reality shows. Each episode contains a few unusual hurdles that Grant and her team need to overcome, but none of the drama feels manufactured. Perhaps most importantly, the food always looks delicious.
Even if you don’t care about cycling (I certainly didn’t before watching the show), the action of the Tour de France become increasingly more interesting as you learn about the personalities of all the people involved — both the athletes and chefs — and see how they work together. The show gets off to a bit of a slow start, but the action really starts cooking midway through the second episode and keeps simmering straight through the end.
All six episodes of Eat. Race. Win. are now available to stream on Amazon Video (it’s free if you have an Amazon Prime account).
Streaming recommendations du jour
Mind of a Chef, ‘The Multiverse”
Watch it on: Facebook Watch
The gist: The Danny Bowien season of Mind of Chef never really took off like the ones that aired on PBS… which is a shame, because these are some of the most entertaining episodes in the entire series. The freewheeling season finale, exploring the scientific theory of “the multiverse,” is arguably the best of the bunch.
Danny Bowien’s career aligns with the multiverse theory in the sense that the chef has lived many different lives in many different places. The cooking segments in this episode showcase all of Bowien’s different histories: He makes red bean pastries with Tartine’s Liz Prueitt in San Francisco, he cooks his own riff on sushi in the kitchen of Mission Chinese Food in New York City, and he prepares lunch at a children’s home in Seoul. As an irreverent bonus, the episode also includes a puppet version of Danny making the chef’s most famous dish, Chongqing chicken wings.
It’s unclear when we’ll see another season of Mind of a Chef. But at least, for now, there’s a relatively new season of the show that’s full of big ideas and exciting dishes, and anyone with a Facebook account can watch it for free.
Ants on a Shrimp
The gist: Three years ago, when Copenhagen’s famed fine dining destination Noma was sitting atop the World’s 50 Best list, chef René Redzepi decided to close the dining room and open a pop-up version of his restaurant on the 37th floor of Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. This acclaimed documentary chronicles the birth of that temporary restaurant, which Redzepi described as a chance to allow “our vision and our aesthetic to free-fall into a new culture and see what comes out of it.”
The doc shows Redzepi and his chefs — Rosio Sanchez, Kim Mikkola, Lars Williams, Thomas Frebel, and Daniel Giusti — foraging for ingredients in the Japanese countryside, testing new dishes in their temporary home, and debating the composition of each new creation. Their entire mission seems to be geared around pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and making sure that complacency never finds its way onto the menu.
Whether you’re intrigued by the Noma phenomenon or sick of the hype, Ants on a Shrimp, offers valuable insights into why René Redzepi and his crew continue to influence chefs and restaurateurs all around the world.
In other entertainment news…
- CNN will air the final season of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown this fall. The lineup includes five episodes that the author/TV host filmed before he died earlier this year, as well as two retrospectives about his life and work. No word yet on an exact premiere date.
- Cookbook author Samin Nosrat is starring in a new Netflix docuseries called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, based on her book of the same name. Netflix is also readying a new season of Chef’s Table and a spooky baking show called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. All three series will premiere this fall.
- Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are making a movie about the great New England McDonald’s Monopoly scam.
- Lindsay Lohan is shooting an MTV reality show about her new career as a Greek club impresario.
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi is hitting the Hulu library later this month.
- As he did last fall, Guy Fieri helped feed victims of the Northern California wildfires this week.
- And finally, before releasing his new series Return of the Eats, Alton Brown is remixing 13 classic episodes of his hit show Good Eats. These tweaked episodes will run this fall on the Food Network under the banner Good Eats: Reloaded.
Have a great weekend everyone, and if you’re looking for a treat to make for breakfast or brunch, consider whipping up The Food Lab’s cinnamon rolls.