With mind-blowing confections and heavenly baking, Chef's Table: Pastry could very well inspire your sweet tooth to run away from home and hop a jet to one of the restaurants featured in the fourth season of this documentary series.
More than four hours of culinary ambrosia are to be served up by Netflix this Friday, so get set for eye candy and cravings as American director and series creator David Gelb welcomes us into the lives and kitchens of the world's most renowned pastry chefs.
Gelb's cinematic artistry and in-depth style of storytelling won rave reviews from foodies in 2011 for Jiro Dreams of Sushi, his spellbinding study of Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master, considered by many the world's finest, and Sukiyabashi Jiro, his Michelin three-star restaurant situated in a Tokyo subway station.
The first three seasons of Chef's Table scored several Emmy nominations, and last year won the James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Award for best television programme.
Each Pastry episode will focus on the life, talent and passion of one chef and the unique specialities that have put them on the map – and the sacrifices, choices and challenges they've faced en route to kitchen glory.
“When I was in Paris for pastry school, they made it pretty clear that this was a bad career choice,” says Will Goldfarb, a notable pioneer of New York City’s dessert-only restaurant scene. He proved the naysayers wrong when he relocated to Bali, Indonesia, where his tropical creations now grace the tables of his Room4Dessert restaurant.
Christina Tosi, a pastry chef who's very much at home in the Big Apple, talks about how the art of cakes and pastry connects her to her past. "I love baking because it reminds me of my grandma, and it makes that moment in life a little sweeter."
Tosi is the cordial, creative force behind Milk Bar, an expanding American bakery and dessert chain known for its cereal milk ice-cream, bagel bombs, compost cookies and turning "naked" cakes, which have no icing on their sides, into a major dessert trend.
In Sicily, we'll enjoy cool licks at Caffé Sicilia, home to the luxurious Italian gelato of Corrado Assenza, a man with pastry in his genes. His gelato, granita and cannoli are among the best on Earth, and his family has been crafting it for generations.
“When you taste Corrado’s gelato – it’s tasting it for the first time,” says a friend.
Rounding out the greats is Spanish chef Jordi Roca, considered an avant-garde savoury master, who's been known to invent desserts inspired by football goals and exotic perfumes. "For him, flavours are like colours, and he wants to paint with the whole box," a devotee says.
Roca is the youngest of three brothers who opened El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Catalonia in 1986. Since then, Jordi, along with siblings Joan and Josep, have acquired three Michelin stars, and their establishment was named the world's best by Restaurant magazine in 2013. While the pastries are heavenly, the added profile and business Chef's Table brings to the dining establishments of these famous chefs is even sweeter.
Berlin's Tim Raue, who appeared last year to share his bold Asian-inspired fusion cuisine, says being on the show is better than a Michelin star (of which he has two to date for his namesake restaurant). "To tell the figures, if you get a star, you know you have an increase of around 30 per cent in your restaurant. I know I have. If you get a second, you get another 15," he says. "Chef's Table [drives] the next big wave coming at you, with bookings three, four, five and six months in advance. That means people from around the world are travelling ... and coming to visit you. That's amazing." Unfortunately, Raue's Dubai restaurant – Dragonfly in City Walk – closed last year.
"As I [understand] it, we have 19 million [viewers] with Chef's Table around the world on Netflix. You can be sure that, for me, there's no other way to get so close to so many people to see my restaurant and see me. That is absolutely amazing," he says.
Chef’s Table: Pastry is available for streaming on Netflix from Friday, April 13