Sam Burnham, Curator
The Netflix original series Chef’s Table has been around since 2015. The 2020 incarnation centers on that grandest of cuisines. BBQ isn’t just food, It’s a way of life. And nowhere will you find that statement more true than with South Carolina’s Rodney Scott.
This episode highlights his cooking style: whole hog cooked over smoldering coals. Scott burns wood in metal barrels and transfers the coals to the pits with a shovel. It’s slow and deliberate. It requires patience. All good things in time.
That style isn’t just food for Rodney Scott. Chef’s Table shows how that patience, that deliberate effort took him from a young boy with hopes but no real plans to the James Beard Award stage.
Scott’s story is inspiring. The soundtrack and cinematography are beautifully done. This is the quality we’re coming to expect from Netflix’s original programming. They bring a sense of real filmmaking to what we consider a television program. It’s setting a standard for entertainment.
Meanwhile, Rodney Scott is taking the art he learned working for his parents and is passing it on to his son. A classically trained chef spends years in culinary school and climbing the ladder of a kitchen. Scott's experience was different. Instead of classes, he was immersed in the craft. A good BBQ cook is an artist, a skilled craftsman. He isn't merely trained in the science of it all. He feels it. It is a part of him. Seeing the younger Scott walking among the pits or caring for hogs with his father is more than a good family story. It's hope for the future. It is a promise that this art will be available for my grandchildren to enjoy. Those lessons that were learned in Hemingway, South Carolina are being passed along. Those skills are a generational wealth the same as land or a trust fund. They may not seem as lucrative by our modern standards but by the right standards, they are priceless.
At roughly 45 minutes, the show is slightly longer than the actual content of a traditional one hour television show. I could have watched another 45 minutes of it. I found myself wanting to get better at my own craft. I felt encouraged to be more introspective of my own life. More than anything, I found myself wanting to eat some BBQ...I mean, more than usual. It is with good reason that this show is sitting at #6 in Netflix's US ratings right now. If you haven't seen it yet, it is well worth your time.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire