Chef’s Table: Pizza Shines a Spotlight on the World’s Best Pizza Makers

Chef's Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix
Chef's Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix /

It’s often said that you eat with your eyes, so it’s only fitting that when Chef’s Table premiered on Netflix in 2015, creator David Gelb presented foodies with a visual feast that told compelling stories while tempting viewers with culinary art. In eight seasons of Chef’s Table, Gelb and his team have taken us into the minds and kitchens of some of the world’s best chefs. With the just-dropped Chef’s Table: Pizza, we’re introduced to some of the world’s most innovative pizza makers, whose passion for the versatile dish manifests itself in an intriguing variety of ways.

You and I likely see pizza as a staple and an old friend, with personal preferences for style and taste. To the six chefs profiled in Chef’s Table: Pizza, it’s exponentially more. The humble pizza becomes a canvas for expression, experimentation, and even psychological & emotional survival. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to label each of these chefs tortured artists, with their individual journeys informing who they are today. Their stories are not only worth sharing but are told masterfully by David Gelb and his team of talented producers.


When one hears the word Phoenix, it’s usually accompanied by the thought of a desert. When we hear Phoenix and pizza mentioned together, it’s not uncommon to quickly identify the Arizona city as a pizza desert. Debates and discussions about great pizza are usually rooted in New York and Chicago, with both hearing Detroit’s cheesy footsteps with greater frequency. Never in that conversation does Phoenix emerge, but as Chef’s Table: Pizza magnifies, it should, as Chris Bianco may very well be America’s quintessential pizza maker.

When the tonsorial-challenged Bianco introduced his artisanal creations to unsuspecting Phoenicians at Pizzeria Bianco in 1996, word spread quickly, and hours-long lines became the norm. In the first episode of Chef’s Table: Pizza, we follow the pizzaiola’s accidental and fortuitous trek from The Bronx to Arizona’s state capitol, and as they say, the rest is history.

Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix
Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix /


As unlikely as it is to find pizza heaven in Phoenix, it seems only fitting to discover a chef who’s been called the “Michelangelo of Pizza” in Rome, Italy. In Gabriele Bonci, we find someone whose meteoric rise to fame resulting from his many television appearances caused an intense self-loathing that demanded a course correction in his pizza-making journey.

Transforming himself from a cherubic caricature to a laser-focused mad scientist, Bonci found his culinary voice and continues to enthrall diners at his Pizzarium, which is just a pizza dough’s throw from the Vatican. Chef’s Table: Pizza uses a deft hand in introducing viewers to the chef.


As is the case in each episode of Chef’s Table: Pizza, the pizza maker wears varying degrees of vulnerability on the sleeve of their chef’s coat, the byproduct of obstacles and even demons encountered en route to their success. In the case of Minneapolis-based Ann Kim, her struggles are heavily influenced by the cultural and familial demands of being a South Korean immigrant.

Kim overcame those internal and external factors to become a pizza-making sensation, fusing her Korean roots with her passion for the title dish to earn acclaim, which includes winning a James Beard Award. Chef’s Table: Pizza artfully tells the chef’s captivating story.

Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix
Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix /


This installment of Chef’s Table: Pizza whisks us back to Italy, where we meet one of the country’s most renowned pizzaiolo, Franco Pepe. In Chef Pepe, we find a purist who eschews equipment and makes his dough by hand exclusively. His relationship with dough is almost a religious experience, as he listens to the fruits of his manual labor to ascertain its readiness to serve as a platform for his creations.

At his Pepi in Grani in the small city of Caiazzo just outside Naples, Franco Pepe combines the aforementioned immersion into the purest form of making dough with the many lessons learned at the elbow of his revered father to produce unique and beloved pizzas. Chef’s Table: Pizza perfectly illustrates what makes Pepe tick.


Who would’ve expected an episode of Chef’s Table: Pizza to include a visit to Kyoto, Japan?! Not me, yet the fact that it does perfectly defines why the show is so successful. Like each of the pizza makers featured in the series, Yoshihiro Imai combines an almost Zen-like connection to the earth’s vast bounty with his devotion to serving unique dishes that represent his vision on a plate.

The word minimalist immediately comes to mind when meeting Imai onscreen, down to the fact that his restaurant Monk seats only 14 diners. While perhaps coincidental, I find it fitting that Monk is situated along something called the philosopher’s path, as the chef himself is clearly one with his environs.

Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix
Chef’s Table Pizza, photo provided by Netflix /


From the Pacific Rim in Kyoto, we wend our way to the Pacific Northwest, where we meet Sarah Minnick, a Portland-based chef who has made a name for herself by co-mingling pizza and ice cream at her Lovely’s Fifty Fifty.

I’m not just using flowery prose when I tell you that among the many unique inspirations and ingredients Minnick incorporates into her pizza are edible flowers. Pizza staples like pepperoni are verboten in the chef’s culinary vocabulary. Embracing the land and exotic components, Sarah Minnick has bootstrapped her way into the hearts of Portland diners.

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Chef’s Table: Pizza, available now on Netflix, is culinary storytelling at its very best. David Gelb’s talented team of producers have become adept at deconstructing the macro chef and detailing the many layers of each that ultimately become the sum of their many parts. The show represents pizza as an almost-therapeutic canvas, allowing each of these amazing chefs to embrace its vast potential.