Last Friday, my daughter was sick and I am blessed in that my employer allows me to stay home and work here and there when my family needs me. After a few hours of Disney movies, she decided she felt well enough to go play Barbies and I was able to change the channel and put on something that was a bit more adult. When I do work from home, I try to find something that won't hold my interest too much but isn't totally annoying. I usually land on a British movie or food show. Friday, I stumbled on the Netflix docu-series Cooked.

In the first episode, I thought it was just another version of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations minus the snarky wit. After the first episode, I decided it was more along the lines of  Mind of a Chef but finally into the second episode, I realized it was a whole different animal.

The four-part series includes four main themes: fire, water, air and earth. You are probably thinking what I'm thinking, "Captain Planet, he's our hero. Gonna bring pollution down to zero!"

I, of course, didn't even look at the episode titles until I was about three in. Again, I was WORKING! But, what made this documentary different from Anthony Bourdain or even Sean Brock and April Bloomfield is that the series isn't about the end result or the meal, they are more about where food comes from and how it's prepared from a cultural standpoint.

I learned that Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney executive produced the series. It stars American journalist, Michael Pollan, as he apprentices himself to culinary masters in the arts of the most primary forms of cooking we know: cooking with fire, cooking with water, baking bread (air), and fermenting food (earth).

In an interview with Pollan explains:


“We didn’t want to do food porn,” Pollan insists. “We wanted to do a food film that would be exciting and pleasurable, but there are issues at stake here. My orientation is actually quite political.” He says the same goes for Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director (Taxi to the Dark Side) who helmed the first episode of series.

“If you’ve seen his other work, it’s very strong in its politics and its sense that there are abuses in the world that he wants to correct, or at least shine a light on,” Pollan says of Gibney, who is also an executive producer on the show. “Cooking is a political act,” he says. Still, Pollan wants it to be something people do “out of excitement.”

The series dives deep into how we (focusing on Americans and citizens other well-developed countries) rely on others to make our food for us - whether it be at a restaurant or packaged meals and how we have become so passive about making food choices.

I personally do cook most of my food but I don't give much thought to where the ingredients come from. To me, a chicken was a chicken and I didn't concern myself with where my tomatoes came from. But, even that night, I started to think a little harder about my raw ingredients and research local farms. I'll also be rewatching the entire series since I couldn't let it fully sink in last Friday.

I won't go into depth on how far down the rabbit hole he goes - you'll have to watch the series for yourself. But, trust me, it''s worth the binge-watch.