Food & Culture

Mark Best fills us in on Neflix’s The Final Table

The Australian chef is among 24 contestants battling it out on a new reality cooking show that pairs a star-studded cast with high-stakes thrills.

By Emma Breheny
Mark Best and Shane Osborn on The Final Table, Netflix's latest food show
Mark Best and Shane Osborn on The Final Table

Netflix's newest food show to début this year, The Final Table, will air on Monday 20 November and stars none other than homegrown talent Mark Best, who has helmed some of the country's best fine-diners, Marque and Pei Modern among them.

A departure from Netflix's glossy documentary-style shows such as Chef's Table, The Final Table pits teams of the world's best chefs against one another in a knock-out reality TV format à la Top Chef. Every episode, the teams of two are asked to create a dish from the cuisine of a different country, spanning Italy, Brazil, India, France and more.

"It's a whole new paradigm," Best says of the experience. "Cooking in your own restaurant with your whole team, cooking recipes that are yours and are well-practised is very different to cooking recipes sight unseen."

The set of The Final Table
The set of The Final Table

Best, who ran Marque for 17 years in Sydney to much acclaim, is one of 24 chefs who were selected for the show after a rigorous casting process that involved psychological evaluations, several Skype interviews and the submission of personal and professional CVs. The other chefs who made the cut include fellow Australian Shane Osborn (who is Best's teammate), New Zealand's Monique Fiso (Hiakai), Aaron Bludorn (Cafe Boulud, New York), Esdras Ochoa (who owns restaurants in LA and Hong Kong) and Jessica Lorigo (of Topa Sukaldería in San Sebastian). That much talent in one room undoubtedly raises the stakes.

"It required every ounce of guile, cunning and expertise for us to get through," Best says of he and Osborn's performance. "It was the greatest professional challenge I've ever really had other than running a small business."

Adding to the pressure are the stars on the other side of the pass. Judges include chefs Grant Achatz, Enrique Olvera and Clare Smyth, celebrities from outside the food world and critics including The New York Times' Sam Sifton.

While Best remains tight-lipped about who makes it to the final table, Netflix is releasing all 10 episodes at once so you won't be waiting for too long.

The Final Table launches on Netflix on 20 November 2018, netflix.com/au