Net­flix puts ‘Street Food’ and its mak­ers front and cen­ter in new doc­u­men­tary se­ries

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Tasty Tv - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

Fans of the lush pho­tog­ra­phy and sto­ry­telling of “Chef ’s Ta­ble” will want to check out a culi­nary se­ries from the same pro­duc­tion team that cur­rently streams on Net­flix.

In the aptly ti­tled “Street Food,” cam­eras go to some of the most vi­brant cities in the world to ex­plore their street food scene and the rich cul­ture be­hind it, with each episode spot­light­ing sto­ries of in­di­vid­ual per­se­ver­ance that bring each country’s cui­sine to life.

They’re sto­ries that ad­dress the human con­di­tion, main­tains Brian McGinn, who served as ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and director of both se­ries, as well as co-cre­ator here.

“The thing that was so ex­cit­ing to see,” he ex­plains, “was, in­stead of it be­ing, ‘How can I be the best chef in the country?’ – the ques­tion became, ‘How can I con­tin­u­ally im­prove the dish? How can I make my food great so that I can sup­port my fam­ily or I can help my son have a choice of what type of life he wants to lead?’ And to me, those are such universal, human life ques­tions, and to see how food in­ter­sects with those and to see what role food plays in help­ing peo­ple answer those ques­tions is awe­some.”

The open­ing episode goes to Bangkok, where view­ers meet Jai Fai, a Miche­lin-starred chef who is ar­guably the most fa­mous street ven­dor in the world. It also spot­lights Jek Pui, a cart ven­dor renowned for its curry.

“Peo­ple line up in the morn­ing for these cur­ries,” McGinn says, “and they sit on lit­tle red stools and they eat their curry on the street. And it’s the story of this fam­ily and how they started this curry busi­ness and how they have con­tin­ued those tra­di­tions.”

Other Sea­son 1 episodes go to Ja­pan, In­done­sia, Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan, South Korea, Viet­nam, the Philip­pines and In­dia, where a dish called ni­hari – aka buf­falo stew – is all the rage in New Delhi.

“Peo­ple line up about an hour-plus be­fore ... this shop opens its stand – and ba­si­cally jos­tle for po­si­tion,” McGinn ex­plains. “So this shop that sells stew opens in the morn­ing, peo­ple fran­ti­cally jos­tle for po­si­tion, they’re yelling their or­ders out to the ven­dor and it’s this incredibly fre­netic, en­er­getic scene for about an hour. And then they sell out and the stew is gone and the street re­turns to nor­mal. And it’s some­thing that I had never seen be­fore and was so ex­cit­ing to wit­ness.”

“There’s so much tech­nique and craft and ex­per­tise and mas­tery that goes into mak­ing what seems like a sim­ple plate of food that you can get for a very in­ex­pen­sive amount of money from a stall in the street,” he con­tin­ues. “And what you don’t kind of know is that a lot of these peo­ple have spent 40, 50, 60 years mas­ter­ing that one dish or fig­ur­ing out how can they im­prove one thing after the other . ... And what’s so in­ter­est­ing to see is the ded­i­ca­tion and the fo­cus that peo­ple have in the street food world.”

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