We were so excited to watch this season of Chefs Table Pizza on Netflix because obviously, it’s all about pizza and we’re not hard to please. Each of the six episodes looks at a different figure in the pizza community. Some of these names might be familiar, and some may be pizzaiolos that are new to you.
We watched each episode and wanted to share the things that struck us about each one and what we loved and learned from them. So here is our review of Chef’s Table Pizza.
Episode 1 – Chris Bianco
The first episode starts with Chris Bianco. We are huge fans of his. We have watched him on Jimmy Kimmel and read his book. The episode looks at his origin story, how did an East coast Italian end up in Phoenix, Arizona.
C’mon when you think about the best pizza in the world, Phoenix isn’t generally what you think of, but here we are, so learning how he ended up in Phoenix through his personal journey to find his place in the culinary world was fascinating.
Bianco left New York to head out into the world as a young man, but before he did he learned the art of mozzarella making. This skill helped him open doors in Phoenix.
Young Bianco made homemade mozzarella in his apartment and went door to door to restaurants and delis selling his mozzarella and eventually worked his way into a job at an Italian restaurant, and one thing led to another, and he opened his own pizzeria.
He discussed his focus on using the best ingredients and locally sourcing wheat, tomatoes, and vegetables. His most famous pizza is the Rosa with red onions, pistachios, and rosemary.
It’s creative and tied to the local community. We haven’t tried it but plan to give it a whirl in our own home pizza oven. And we look forward to making a pilgrimage to Phoenix to try it in the future.
Actually, I think we have an aunt who lives in Phoenix. We don’t need to tell her we’re visiting because of the pizza, right? Oh, we’re here to see you auntie, of course! Not.
Episode 2 – Gabriele Bonci
Gabriele Bonci, the Michaelangelo of pizza, is the focus of episode two. Bonci is a famous Roman pizzaiolo who rose up in the pizza world through his larger-than-life TV chef persona. He started making pizza in a small pizzeria but eventually left to do his own thing.
He was focused on educating people to consume ethically and wanted to respect the life and death of the animal. He decided he couldn’t keep working at the pizzeria and started his own.
Bonci is an innovator in the pizza community; he puts unique ingredients on pizza that most turned their noses at until he found some recognition and got on TV. Not only is he an excellent pizzaiolo, but his physical stature and infectious personality were a breath of fresh air to the Italian culinary world. Eventually, he got too big, figuratively and literally.
He was drowning in excess and left the city to regroup in the mountains. He got stomach surgery and lost a tremendous amount of weight. From there, he was able to reconnect with his roots and get back to the basics.
We loved this episode because it felt like theatre. It starts as the classic Man vs. World, then he conquers the culinary world and becomes a rich, famous chef. And then, it becomes Man vs. Self, and he is able to find himself and become true to himself and his values.
One of his culinary creations is fried pasta carbonara which sounds decadent. This fried dish starts with balls of pasta carbonara, which is pasta with bacon and eggs. Then it is breaded and deep-fried to deliciousness.
They really do look amazing, but it’s easy to see how he gained so much weight by creating such rich and heavy foods. He is best known for pizza, and he elevated Roman pizza from street food status to something more. True Chef’s Table Pizza.
Episode 3 – Ann Kim
Kimchi on pizza? Ok, we are totally in. Ann Kim is the owner of Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, and Hello Pizza. She is a James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur in our wonderful hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Her family moved from South Korea to the U.S.A. when she was just four years old. She grew up in Minnesota and then went to college in New York, where she fell in love with New York pizza by the slice. We’re so proud that Ann made the cut for Chef’s Table Pizza. Although she doesn’t make ‘sota style pizza, her variety is truly her own.
For Ann, pizza wasn’t always her passion, but she found it was her calling and started creating a sort of fusion pizza combining Korean comfort food flavors and ingredients with New York-style pizza.
We love her origin story and her absolutely daring creativity. She struggles to find her voice as the only Korean in the town she grew up in to become a celebrated chef. We have been to Pizzeria Lola many times, but haven’t written a review on this blog yet.
Hopefully, we can try her other establishments soon!
Episode 4 – Franco Pepe
The theme of this episode should be pizza is family. Pepe was raised in his parents’ pizzeria and eventually took over the small pizzeria. But after years of making his father’s pies, he wanted more; he wanted to create something different, so he opened his own pizzeria and left his two brothers to run his father’s pizzeria, causing a disconnect and resentment in his family, which only grew deeper as he became more famous.
His story has a happy ending as, eventually, the family reconnects, and his son carries on the pizza tradition. Of all the episodes of Chef’s table pizza, this recap might be the most personally touching with how much we value our family.
We loved watching this episode and learning how he makes his dough without equipment and does everything by hand. The opening shot has him elbows deep in a vat of dough. He is a traditionalist as much as he is an innovator.
His style focuses on local ingredients and taking traditions to a task. His most well-known pizza is the Margherita Sbagliat which translates to the Margherita Mistake. He basically deconstructs the classic Margherita pizza with a cheese base and uncooked tomato sauce on top with basil-infused oil. It looks amazing and something that might be fun to try and recreate.
Pepe is also known for fried pizza which was previously considered the poor man’s pizza, and most Italians considered it to be heavy and cheap. But he recreated it with lighter dough, and it became a hit.
We wouldn’t normally be excited by dessert pizza, but his sweet creation was made with apricots from Vesuvius, buffalo ricotta, and crushed hazelnuts. We are so impressed and can’t wait to travel to Italy to try it ourselves.
Episode 5 – Yoshihiro Imai
This episode of Chefs Table Pizza was unique to the others and seemed to focus less on actual pizza and more on the relationship between man and the food we consume. Japanese chef Yoshihiro says in the beginning that he didn’t find pizza, that pizza found him.
A young Yoshihiro started baking bread in college and uncovered a love of baking. He later found himself working as a pizzaiolo and learning everything about pizza, and exploring the forest and beauty around him for ingredients. He is best know for a wild mushroom pizza that oozes umami.
Visually, this episode was beautifully done, incorporating the beauty of the Japanese landscape with shots of pulling vegetables from the ground and really exploring how nature influences his culinary vision.
His story is the story of a young man defying his family and following his own path. There is sadness and loneliness, beauty, strength, and eventual success.
Episode 6 – Sarah Minnick
We absolutely loved this episode featuring Sarah Minnick of Portland, Oregon’s pizzeria called Lovely’s Fifty Fifty. We follow Sarah on Instagram and learning more about her and her backstory was so interesting. Sarah is known in the pizza world as an innovator.
She is a self-taught pizzaiolo with an artistic background that shines through with her creative pizza toppings. She uses fresh ingredients and keeps her pizzas seasonal. The menu changes regularly depending on what she finds at the local farmer’s market.
She says she builds the menu around the ingredients she comes across and has built a relationship with local farmers.
The biggest thing that Sarah has on her side is her daring choices and her no-fear attitude toward trying new things. Her pizzeria focuses on two things; great pizza and ice cream. We were surprised to learn that she isn’t a trained pizzaiolo or chef or really has any restaurant experience except that she liked the restaurant world.
She opened her first restaurant and worked the front and never ran the kitchen, so when she started her pizzeria, she was really stepping into an unfamiliar world.
Sarah said that she first learned to master the art of breadmaking by making bread every day for five years, and eventually, she was able to understand fermentation and flour and step up her pizza dough.
With a great dough, she started playing with flavors, and one of her best-loved pizzas is with wildflowers and cherry tomatoes. She rarely uses sauce and sticks to cheese and a mix of fruits and vegetables. She has a savory peach pizza that gets a lot of love from the community.
We feel inspired by her energy and drive to jump in and immerse herself in something. She is a unique pizzaiolo, and we can’t wait to make a trip to Portland to try her pizzas.
Have you watched this season of Chef’s Table Pizza on Netflix? Which episode was your favorite?
We love writing about pizza so much, it was second nature to tune in to these glorious Chef’s Table Pizza episodes. If there are any other shows that you know of that are available to stream online about pizza, please don’t hesitate to send us a message and let us know.
Thanks for reading our review of Chef’s Table Pizza!