His grandfather Arthur Gelb started working at The New York

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David Gelb is supposed to be attending the Tribeca Film Festival, but he is playing hooky, as he often does, to search for good food. "I can watch a movie anytime," he says. A special meal, on the other hand, is sacred — whether in the forests of Scandinavia, the colonial squares of Kolkata, or his native New York. We are on the Lower East Side, sitting at a powder-blue picnic table in the back garden of Ivan Ramen, one of the hottest ramen places in the city. It's lunch hour, but the garden is nearly empty — it's a warm spring day, the kind of weather that sends people in search of ice cream rather than steaming bowls of noodles.The staff recognize Gelb immediately, making solicitous small talk and sending us appetizers on the house. This is surprising: Gelb, 32, is a respected filmmaker but hardly a celebrity. If anything nike air max outlet store , he looks, with his sunglasses hanging on the neckline of his blue polo, like a guy you might have gone to college with and then forgotten about.RELATED: Michael Pollan Doesn't Like Your Paleo Diet"We shot here last month," he explains. "They know me, probably better than they wish they did. I spent a week getting all up in their business — 'Can I turn off your music? Can I turn on even more lights?' " Ivan Orkin, the restaurant's owner, grew up on Long Island, moved to Tokyo, and became the first foreigner to make a name for himself in Japan's cutthroat ramen scene. He is, in other words, a perfect subject for Chef's Table, Gelb's Netflix show that is part food porn, part high art, and part vivid whirlwind tour through the world's most exclusive kitchens.The show, one of the most highly praised of Netflix's many original series, has a new season that became available May 27. "Originally, a lot of people wanted Dave out on the road as a host, visiting the best restaurants in the world," Brian McGinn, a director and executive producer, told me. Gelb opted instead for a visually rich biographical style that looks and feels like nothing in the current glut of food programming. "He doesn't ask any clichéd questions. His interviews are four or five days long, and he really gets to the bottom of things," says Gaggan Anand, the chef-owner of Gaggan, a highly acclaimed Indian restaurant in Bangkok, who is profiled in season two. "He has a superpower where he gets people to tell the truth about themselves."At the ramen shop, Gelb is somewhat humbler. He orders a red-rice ale, pork meatballs, and a "red-hot cold noodle" that's popular in the warmer months and says: "I'm not a food expert. I enjoy telling stories about chefs."Gelb proved that point in 2012 with Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a feature-length documentary about Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. The film made massaging a dead octopus look like a mind-altering ascetic practice, but it was saved from self-seriousness by the human drama: Jiro's stern glare giving way to a crinkled smile as he tastes a piece of tamago; the repressed sibling rivalry between Jiro's two sons.Jiro was a hit on Netflix, so in 2014, with the company commissioning more ambitious, original content, Gelb pitched Chef's Table. The first season, which premiered last year, consisted of six episodes, each centering on a renowned chef: Francis Mallmann in Buenos Aires and Patagonia; Massimo Bottura in Modena, Italy; Niki Nakayama in Los Angeles. The second season profiles six more chefs, including Ana Ros in the Slovenian Alps and Alex Atala journeying into the depths of the Amazon. Seasons three and four are in production. "When he emailed me, I not only said, 'Yes, I'll do it,' I said, 'I've been waiting for your email for three years,' " says Gaggan, who traveled with Gelb in Bangkok and his native Kolkata. "I think every chef in the world is waiting for that invitation."RELATED: The 13 Best Adventure Movies Now Streaming on NetflixSome episodes have the sweep and scale of a melodrama, with narrative stakes that can seem almost concocted. Grant Achatz — known for his bizarre experiments with molecular gastronomy (strawberries reconstituted to look like tomatoes, tomatoes reconstituted to look like strawberries, a pillow filled with the scent of nutmeg) — contracts tongue cancer and, at the height of his career, loses his sense of taste. Ivan Orkin, the American ramen master, will appear in season four. They shot for a week in New York and a week in Tokyo. "Ivan is obsessed with all Japanese food," Gelb says. "We went out to eat in Tokyo, and he orders this thing called shirako, which is basically cod sperm. Out comes this big bowl, and it's just, like cheapairmaxshox.com , three big white sperm sacs, lightly seared. A bowl for each of us. I'm like, 'That's a lot of sperm, dude.' And Ivan, while he's eating it, goes, 'This is what it's like to give a fish a blow job.' "Gelb was born in New York City to an illustrious family. His grandfather Arthur Gelb started working at The New York Times as a copy boy; eventually he became the paper's managing editor. Peter Gelb, his father, is the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, the premier opera company in the country. "Dave's father always had great artists and musicians around, so Dave is comfortable around people at the top of their game," McGinn says. "The chefs on our show are great artists, so Dave knows how to connect with them, put them at ease, and make their personalities come through on camera."Gelb got the idea for Chef 's Table as an undergrad studying film at the University of Southern California. "I was smoking a bong and watching Planet Earth," Gelb says, referring to the long-running BBC documentary series, beloved by birders and stoners alike, that attempts to explain the entirety of the natural world. "It just hit me: 'Planet Earth, but for the food world. How has no one done that yet?' "Between trips for work and pleasure, Gelb lives in L.A. with his fiancée, a movie agent. He also works on fictional films, recently directing a sci-fi horror movie called The Lazarus Effect. But the object of his devotion is Chef 's Table. "I would love to do this show forever," he says after a slurp of noodles."Do you worry about running out of material?" I ask him.He answers quickly and simply: "No.""But Planet Earth has a whole planet to work with," I say. "How many world-class chefs can there be?""We've done rough story outlines for probably 40 different chefs that haven't made it to air yet," Gelb says. "And I'm constantly getting recommendations about chefs with cool stories who are doing completely different things in different parts of the world, like this 60-year-old Buddhist chef in South Korea who cooks in a monastery, everything sourced from whatever she finds in her garden.""It's a show about people," Gelb adds, "and you never run out of interesting people."

'Chef's Table' Director David Gelb Is Turning Food Porn Into an Art Form

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