Netflix’s Chef’s Table is currently in its sixth and possibly last season. Due to its potential ending, we saw it fitting to publish a blog entry about our participation on the show a few years ago. In 2015, Brazil Production Services was contacted by Boardwalk Pictures to produce a Brazilian episode of the groundbreaking show from the creators of Jiro: Dreams of Sushi. The Brazilian episode would focus on chef Alex Atala. We were of course very happy to assist.
Chef Alex Atala is a renaissance man known for his high end culinary fusion, where he combines elements of French haute cuisine with Brazilian ingredients. His São Paulo based restaurant, D.O.M., is one of the only restaurants in Brazil to be honored with two Michelin stars. The episode we shot with him focused on his life, philosophy and followed him on foraging trips to find rare regional ingredients with the help of local natives.
Some of the special local ingredients that Atala is fond of using on his cuisine are:
A yellow liquid extracted from a specific pressed type of yucca. It’s poisonous and must be boiled for at least 20 minutes so the acid volatilizes. It’s typical to the Amazon region and it’s used to season fish and meat - specially duck.
Another Amazon’s typical root. It was used originally by the cosmetic industry and chef Alex Atala developed an edible essence from it to be used in his dishes.
The Jambu (Spilanthes oleracea) is a herb typical to the Amazon area known for causing an electric feel to the tongue.
The production was shot at different times with two different units: São Paulo and Amazon. First, the crew did the São Paulo region where they shot at Atala’s restaurant and at his house. After that, they followed the chef to nearby locations like Ubatuba and Paraty. The second unit was shot months later deep in the Amazon forest - near the Colombian/Venezuelan border. BPS was responsible for all of the logistics of both production units including boat rentals, crew rentals, equipment rentals and accommodation.
Our production office rented a 9 seater plane in Manaus and coordinated with the local charter company to fly the crew to the remote area of the Alto do Rio Içana (Içana River). And then, BPS arranged with a jungle unit of the Brazilian military for the crew to be picked up and taken by boat to an army base next to Tunuí - where they were housed.
Close to the base, across the river, is the Baniwa village where production was happening daily. The Baniwan people are a dominant native tribe that lives in the region, they speak their own language and cultivate a type of spicy pepper that Atala uses in some of his dishes.
Production also went to the stop-over town of São Gabriel Cachoeira. The crew was welcomed by members of local Amazon tribes and met their translators.
Check out the trailer for the season:
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