When Brian McGinn entered the world of food television, the landscape was populated with a very limited kind of programme.
There were a number of established tenets as to what makes good food television – that the audience must learn how to cook, that you need a celebrity host, you have to make food television in reality television style, the host has to stuff their face and explain how delicious it is and that it’s also about the ‘food scene’ of a particular destination.
McGinn and his friend David Gelb, fresh from after making his seminal documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’, decide to make something fresh and new. They developed a new set of rules: number one is that they needed an inspiring character, the story should be told by the chef themselves and those closest to them, they wanted to find a way to intertwine personal and professional stakes, the food must look amazing, and they wanted to dig deep into dishes that had personal significance and emotional context.
Armed with these new rules, the team set out to make the first season of Chefs Table. What they discovered along the way, by taking to chefs, a way to navigate their own careers in filmmaking, with no discernible path to success.
With so many similarities between the stories the team were forced to evolve the story-telling format to reflect universal themes of overcoming hardship, diversity and barriers. By the third season, they pivoted away from traditionally celebrated chefs. As their platform grew they saw a way to lean into greater gender equality and eventually to a new series ‘street Food’. The series will continue to evolve with new formats and stories to come from the world of food.