"He Made So Much Pizza, It Almost Killed Him": You Simply Must Watch Chef's Table: Pizza
Perhaps you are already familiar with the documentary series Chef’s Table? I’ve caught the errant episode here and there without ever feeling especially drawn in. The individual shots are all lovely, and everybody featured is drenched in perfect late afternoon sunlight, but for all that it’s left me feeling slightly inert.
Not so with Chef’s Table: Pizza. Admittedly I’m only two episodes in, but blessedly both episodes have followed the exact same formula, with absolutely unimpeachable results: There is a wonderful little pizza man, who loves ingredients, who made so much pizza it almost killed him. There are brute-force shots of a weather-beaten man, bowed but not broken by life, squeezing a tomato, smelling a sheaf of wheat, delicately rubbing flour between his meaty paws with the same intensity that Daniel Day-Lewis makes dresses with in Phantom Thread; there are jocular encounters with guys stirring curds or women selling tomatoes at the farmer’s market to remind us that the pizza man, while a lone genius, is still a man of the people; there is a swell of music so forceful, so patriotic for pizza, that soars over the triumphal plating of a dish in the last five minutes that I found myself as moved by watching the pizza man making his fifteenth on-screen pizza as I was by the Bill Pullman speech at the end of Independence Day. And all of it works. It’s glossy and produced to within an inch of its life and shamelessly manipulative in the way only the deepest, most timeless truths can be.
Who can say something like “Eating is an agricultural act” but a holy fool? It is the most self-evident of observations, and yet it must be said without trying to save face or wink against oneself. No one who wishes to talk about food can be afraid of sounding like an idiot. “Ingredients should be good.” “I like when food tastes beautiful.” “Here is where the vegetables are from.”
And yet are these not some of the first things we teach children? “The cow goes moo.” “A is for apple.” “Farmers make the things people eat.”
There is a little pizza man who loves ingredients
“I ate a thousand pieces of pizza in a year. And I said in my book, the best pizza in the world is made in Phoenix, Arizona.”
“When a lot of people hear the word ‘slice,’ they’re thinking of a triangular piece of pizza that’s cut from a big, round New York pie.”