Chef Aaron Bludorn chats about The Final Table, culinary inspirations & paying it forward


Chef Aaron Bludorn has had numerous accolades, culinary achievements and personal successes. Still, he choose to join Netflix’s culinary competition, The Final Table.

Celebrated Chef Aaron Bludorn is well known in the culinary world. As the executive chef of the Michelin star, New York City restaurant, Café Boulud, he has excelled in showcasing impeccable food without losing sight of culinary classics. In The Final Table, a whole new group of foodies will become enthralled with this culinary point of view.

For many chefs, culinary competition shows offer exposure, but that show comes with a compromise. Some shows offer a side of kitchen drama or personal conflict that has nothing to do with exceptional food or culinary innovations. This Netflix don’t watch hungry show is about the food, the only drama is the visually stunning food on the plate.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Aaron Bludorn about his experience on The Final Table, his culinary point of view and his willingness to give back to the next generation of culinary innovators. Below, I have compiled some of my thoughts and impressions from that conversation.

The purity of the culinary competition drew Chef Bludorn to this Netflix show. When this show’s producers approached him, the appeal came from the originality of this show. He appreciated that the chefs aren’t followed outside of the kitchen. The focus is food and all it has to offer.

Since this competition pairs two chefs in a team, I asked Chef Bludorn if he knew his partner, Chef Graham Campbell from the UK. The two chefs weren’t friends prior to the competition, but Chef Bludorn thought that their styles worked well together. Both chefs speak the same dialect of classic dishes, fine dining and a nod to classic techniques with a focus on flavor.

It sounds as if they balance each other, which will be important in the opening episodes of this culinary competition. With the chefs having to create a particular country’s dish in the first episodes, the teams need to both push and offset each other. Where one is weak, the other needs to be strong.

Still, by the end of competition, that team has to compete directly against each other. While I do not know which chef earns the seat at the culinary greats, it will be curious to see how chefs go from teams to direct competitors. Maybe it was best that Chef Bludorn and Chef Campbell weren’t previously close.

While The Final Table is a cooking competition, Chef Bludorn used this experience to build his relationships with other culinary innovators. After the show ended, some of his fellow competitors came to Café Boulud for special dining events.

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  • As a food fan, it is inspiring that the chefs continue the culinary conversations with other chefs. Whether it is these types of special dinners, using a certain technique or implementing a particular flavor, these collaborations show that food is the universal language and brings people together around the table.

    Chef Bludorn even talked about the conversations that both the diners and the chefs had at some of these dinners. For example, he discussed a particular special dinner. At that dinner, the conversations evolved beyond the many food courses because dining experience brought all different people together. People who might never cross paths can find common ground at the table.

    One concept that Chef Bludorn shared was that food allows people to travel the world while sitting at the table. Maybe a person can’t get on a plane and visit Senegal, but that person can explore that flavor from her own kitchen table. Food travel doesn’t have to involve a passport; it comes with a desire to discover flavor.

    While many people think of Café Boulud with its interpretations on French peasant dishes, the restaurant’s voyage menu is an exploration of flavors. These dishes draw inspiration from various countries or regions. While the dish’s technique might be classic, the flavors tempt diners to take a culinary journey.

    Although I do not know this idea as a fact, the voyage menu and the exploration of flavors could help Chef Bludorn in The Final Table. This competition appears to reward chefs who can see the commonality between cuisines. While chefs might be tasked with creating a taco, it isn’t the exact replication of a dish. These chefs should find a way to bring their culinary sensibilities to these dishes.

    Given his familiarity with his restaurant’s Voyage menu, it could be assumed that Chef Bludorn could understand the nuances of different cuisines. Just because the dish is a taco, it doesn’t mean that the technique, detail or flavor is pedestrian. It will be interesting to see if this assumption comes true in the Netflix series.

    The Final Table, photo provided by Netflix

    For the viewer watching at home, she, too, can take this culinary journey. Chef Bludorn mentioned that he reads cookbooks for inspiration. A cookbook can hold a wealth of knowledge. Many of these culinary blueprints can be the starting point for better understanding a dish, a spice or just the background behind some common foods that people overlook. It is refreshing to hear that a professional chef is looking to learn and hone his craft through something that a home cook uses frequently.

    While Chef Bludorn might be familiar with flavors and classic techniques, he did have to adapt to some culinary competition gadgets. The infamous, often used pressure cooker was a gadget that he had to employ. Given the limited time of these challenges, it was a necessary adaptation.

    The most compelling part of my conservation with Chef Aaron Bludorn was his desire to give back to the future culinarians. Through his work with Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), Chef Bludorn mentors and educates aspiring chefs. Many of these underserved high school students could have a brilliant future in the culinary world. Through scholarships and mentorships, this program can develop a person’s passion for a rewarding career. His willingness to give back to the future generations makes him a leader both in and out of the kitchen.

    My biggest takeaway from my conversation with Chef Bludorn was his passion about food and the culinary world. He was approachable, engaging and inspiring. While I might be just a food lover, his enthusiasm about food makes me excited about continuing my food exploration.

    Related Story. Who will earn the empty seat at Netflix's The Final Table?. light

    As I anxiously await the ten episodes of The Final Table on Netflix, I wonder what Chef Aaron Bludorn will create in this culinary competition. Will his classic technique, yet modern interpretation, serve him well? Tune into Netflix on November 20 to see which chef earns the coveted seat at The Final Table.

    I would like to thank Chef Aaron Bludorn and Netflix for facilitating this interview.