Ever found yourself in a fine dining Thai restaurant and wondering what could have possibly led you here? Why are you about to fork out a questionably large sum of money for a cuisine you could satisfactorily enjoy at a more modest establishment just around the corner?
That is what one night with Netflix’s Chef’s Table could make you do. What is the magic of Chef’s Table that sufficiently motivates you to try something new, to commit to something you didn’t think you would do? Is it the glowing food reviews, shining food cinematography, rousing soundtracks, or is there something more?
The secret could very well lie in the powerful vehicle of storytelling.
The ‘meat’ of an episode is built upon a ‘skeleton’ of rules and structures, all to create a ‘body’ of work that truly connects with and moves its audience.
Take the example of Bo Songvisava. In this episode, we follow a plucky Thai girl-turned-lady-chef who battled adversity before her restaurant Bo.Lan secured a spot on Asia’s Top 50 Best Restaurants 2019. Here lies the first rule of storytelling: a main character (better if they are the underdog) for your audience to root for, admiring the character’s journey rather than just lauding their final destination of success.
Secondly, the episode broadly follows a structure called ‘The Story Spine’, which goes as such:
Image credit: Emma Coats
Watch the episode yourself, and fill in the blanks!
The final magical touches of Bo’s story lie in how it is centered around a piece of the human condition, and it is told to share a greater purpose beyond one Thai restaurant and it’s chef’s life.
Bo’s story is one of human aspiration, striving first to become a true chef, and then fighting to preserve the heritage, traditions and knowledge of Thai cuisine. Through that, she discovers the importance of small-scale farmers and producers, and how supporting them has positive effects that ripple through the entire ecosystem of our planet, local communities, the food that is produced and eventually the lives of those who enjoy the final masterpieces.
At your next shopping or eating occasion, pause for a moment to consider the story that you are connected to before taking the plunge!