When word came down in 2019 that Roy Choi and Jon Favreau were making a celebrity-powered drop-in cooking show, it sounded like surefire fun. The show was a success and kept the promise of its premise — a wooly, sometimes-informative, often-funny hang fest for Choi, Favreau, and their famous friends. It deftly blended kitchen education with out-of-the-box recipes and interviews with Marvel and Star Wars insiders.
The show wasn’t genre shaking, mind you, but there really wasn’t anything not to like. Cool people doing cool stuff is pretty much the easiest recipe for TV success known to humankind. But it works for a reason.
The latest season of The Chef Show — technically season two, volume one — premiered on Netflix last Friday, with five new episodes landing at once. Each installment is a bit like meeting with two old friends for an after-work cocktail. You’re catching up, you’re smiling at clever banter, and you’re getting a bit of a buzz on. You leave flushed with memories of why you always liked hanging out with these super pals in the first place.
In short, Choi and Favreau are food TV’s warm hug — breaking the isolation of the quaratine era.
This season’s episodes of The Chef Show find the duo hitting the streets of Los Angeles. The episodes center on three restaurants in L.A.: Milk Bar, Simone, and Tartine Bianco. The two remaining episodes capture the duo in their studio kitchen — cooking up Italian comfort food and burgers and fries.
If you’re looking for an episode from this installment to really get you hooked for the first time, the second episode of the season, called “Roy’s Italian Cuisine,” is the place to start. The pair work in the kitchen making meatballs for both spaghetti and lasagna and then go through the arduous process of cooking artichokes. As always, Favreau asks the perfect questions for a passionate-but-not-expert-level home cook.
That episode aside, this season feels a little short when it comes to both length and new ideas. Each 30-ish minute episode flies by, making it an easy binge, but the famous friend drop-ins are gone. The removal of this star-adjacent element clearly takes something away from the magic of the show. The problem with creating a series based, in part, on celebrity clout is that when it’s not there you notice. (It’s hard not to lament the fact that none of Favreau’s The Mandalorian cohort makes an appearance.)
The show also seems to be playing catch up to the rapidly changing restaurant scene. Clearly taped pre-COVID, Choi and Favreau visit L.A.’s famed and now-closed Tartine Bianco and chat with chef Jessica Largey at Simone (a restaurant she left over a year ago). That’s to be expected, to some degree. This show has always been a bit of an afterthought for two busy, famous, rich, and successful men. But it is noticeable.
Gripes aside, The Chef Show offers two-hours and thirty-minutes of enjoyable, easily binge-able content. It’s perfect for a rainy, autumn weekend and background kitchen viewing while you cook. You’ll learn a thing or two from Choi as he guides Favreau through recipes. And the “pals palling around doing pal stuff” is a nice respite from a world on fire.
Taken as a whole, the series is a cruisy-yet-edifying glimpse into the dynamic of two close friends, their bond, and the connective power of the kitchen. If you have an appetite for that sort of camaraderie, you’re going to find this time well spent.
You can watch all five episodes of season two, volume one of ‘The Chef Show‘ on Netflix right now.