What The Chef's Table Chefs Are Up To Now

When Netflix's "Chef's Table" premiered in 2015, the docuseries gave viewers an insider's perspective on some truly unique chefs. The chefs in this series come from all over the world, and their culinary passions are as diverse as the chefs themselves. In every episode, food television fans get a chance to learn about the faces behind some of the most influential, experimental restaurants ever conceived. Along the way, the chefs share deeply personal anecdotes about their path to success, their food philosophies, and the emotions that inform their creative process. In the end, it's impossible not to feel a connection and appreciation for each series participant's story. 

However, these chefs' incredible journeys didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling. In the years since their episodes aired, each has explored new frontiers. Many have opened new restaurants or built new connections with other culinary professionals. Others have written cookbooks, hosted pop-up events, and embraced revolutionary ingredients. Some have even stepped beyond the doors of their restaurants into the world of activism, championing causes close to their hearts. Regardless of the direction their careers have taken, these chefs have undoubtedly left a significant mark on their respective food scenes since appearing in the series. 

Massimo Bottura has tackled food waste

Massimo Bottura kicked off the series by sharing details about his life in Italy and his journey to opening his famous restaurant, Osteria Francescana. However, his impact on the culinary world extends far beyond his first restaurant. The year after appearing on "Chef's Table", Bottura founded Food For Soul, an organization committed to sustainability and reducing food waste. Food For Soul offers educational resources and food aid, among many other initiatives. 

Soon after, he opened Refettorio Ambrosiano, a restaurant that uses food products that might otherwise become waste. According to Time Magazine, this eatery functions similarly to a soup kitchen, feeding less fortunate members of the local community. However, Bottura explains that its purpose is much more significant: "It is a cultural project that shares beauty. We treat our guests like we do at our restaurants." 

As the article describes, the staff at Refettorio Ambrosiano take products local grocery stores would typically discard, such as imperfect produce, and turn it into fine-dining dishes. The chef's empire now includes multiple Refettorio locations, including some in New York. In 2023, UNEP reported that Bottura hosted a dinner at the Harlem location to support the "Every Plate Counts" initiative. This program mirrors the goals of Food For Soul, which partially sponsors it.

Francis Mallmann wrote a vegetarian cookbook

In his episode of the Netflix series, Francis Mallmann presents some truly inspiring views about open-fire cooking. The accomplished Argentine chef is best known for his stunning meat-focused dishes cooked in this style. That's why his 2022 cookbook, "Green Fire: Extraordinary Ways to Grill Fruits and Vegetables," came as such a surprise. The cookbook entirely focuses on vegetarian and even vegan dishes, bringing Mallmann's signature cooking style to those with a meat-free diet. 

The chef has repeatedly credited young vegan and vegetarian fans of his work for inspiring the idea for the cookbook. According to Mallmann, their ability to respect and appreciate his cooking despite not seeing their dietary preferences represented greatly impacted him. Additionally, there was an even bigger source of inspiration within his family: two of the chef's seven children are vegan. 

However, the cookbook isn't just a one-off experiment or a way to pay fanservice. Instead, it represents a shift in Mallmann's worldview about food. As he told Food & Wine, Mallmann believes people will continue to shift away from eating meat. He also thinks animal products' sources and environmental impact will become even more important to consumers. He summarizes his new perspective: "I love meat but we have to change. There's no way out: We have to change."

Magnus Nilsson changed his career focus

Many of the culinarians featured in "Chef's Table" have expanded their careers since their appearance, but Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson took a different approach. His world-renowned restaurant, Faviken Magasinet, was at the epicenter of his Season 1 episode, but the pressure of running a Michelin-starred restaurant can take its toll. In 2019, Nilsson decided to close the restaurant so he could focus on his personal life, including spending more time with family and going fishing. 

However, the chef didn't completely step away from the culinary world in pursuit of a more peaceful life. Instead, he began working toward improving the industry's environmental impact. In 2020, he took on a new role in the organization MAD, which educates people in the hospitality industry about sustainable business practices. As the organization announced on its website, Nilsson took the reins of the newly minted MAD Academy as its first-ever director. 

In addition to his work with MAD, Nilsson also serves as Director-General for The Curt Bergfors Foundation, which champions creating sustainable systems for feeding the world's population. The organization is best known for its generous Food Planet Prize, awarded to food-related businesses that are making a unique impact on this cause. 

Enrique Olvera participated in a surprising collaboration

In Season 2, Mexican chef Enrique Olvera shows viewers that humble (and sometimes unusual) ingredients have a place in fine dining. The episode heavily features his first Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, and his longstanding relationship with food. The chef shares that he hosted dinner parties for friends in his teens, just the beginning of his experience preparing food for others. After appearing in the series, the chef has pursued several new stateside ventures. For example, in 2017, he launched Atla, his second restaurant in New York City. Then, in 2020, Olvera opened Damian, a modern Mexican restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. 

Expanding his restaurant empire is no surprise, but Olvera also participated in a very unexpected partnership in 2022. The chef joined forces with the fast food chain Shake Shack to create a unique three-course menu for a limited-time pop-up event. According to the chain's blog, the menu's anchor was The Ant Burger, an Angus beef burger topped with the same Chicanta Ant mayonnaise Olvera features at Pujol. Of course, no Shake Shack meal would be complete without a milkshake, and this collaborative menu included a genuinely unique corn-flavored concoction. Diners could only experience this menu for one night in New York City and Los Angeles. 

Gaggan Anand closed one door and opened another

Several of the chefs who appear on "Chef's Table" explore the food-related cultural traditions of their native country, including Indian chef Gaggan Anand. As the chef describes during his episode, Indian food has not been historically synonymous with fine dining, and he was inspired to break that stereotype. That inspiration led him to open his flagship restaurant, Gaggan, in Bangkok, Thailand. 

In the years since his episode aired, Anand has made a significant change: He and his fellow shareholders shuttered the famed restaurant in 2019. The chef announced the closure on Instagram and apologized to those whose reservations were canceled due to the closure. Unfortunately, as he explained in his post, his minority shareholder status left him with little power in the situation. 

Luckily, the end of the Gaggan era of the chef's career allowed him to begin a new chapter. Not long after the original Gaggan closed, the chef opened a new Bangkok restaurant, Gaggan Anand. In 2023, JW Marriott in Kolkata, India, hosted a pop-up event in which Anand treated residents of his hometown to an interactive dining experience. Earlier in the year, the chef also partnered with Hyatt Regency in Delhi for a limited-time residency. For a few weeks, diners had the chance to enjoy dishes from the chef's restaurant menu. 

Nancy Silverton embraced vegan cheese at Pizzeria Mozza

Although "Chef's Table" wasn't Nancy Silverton's first television appearance, the series allows audiences to hear her story in a more focused context. Her episode features details about her home in Italy, her beginnings in the restaurant business, and, of course, bread. The cook and baker has a long list of awards to her credit, which has only grown longer since she was featured in the series. 

Nevertheless, if there's one thing the chefs in this show have proved, it's that culinarians can always break new ground. For Silverton, experimenting with vegan cheese has given her a way to connect with a new audience. In 2023, PRNewswire reported that Silverton partnered with New Culture to premiere the brand's vegan mozzarella cheese at her Los Angeles restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza. According to the article, this cheese is made through a unique fermentation process that gives it the same texture as traditional mozzarella. 

This event was the first step in a longer-term partnership between Silverton and New Culture, which includes Pizzeria Mozza menu changes in 2024. According to PRNewswire, Silverton's pizzeria will be the first restaurant to feature this vegan cheese brand. The cook even partnered with New Culture representatives to devise pizza concepts ideal for showcasing the cheese.

Ivan Orkin set his sights on the U.K.

Most U.S. diners would not associate ramen with upscale dining, but New York-born chef Ivan Orkin has spent his career elevating it. His episode explores his journey from falling in love with ramen in Japan to putting his own signature spin on the traditional dish. Viewers get an inside look at his New York City restaurant, Ivan Ramen, where the chef serves dishes featuring the unique rye noodles he perfected over the years. 

Since the episode aired, Orkin has explored a new market: the U.K. In 2023, the ramen cook hosted a limited-time event, Ivan Mazeman, which focused on a brothless noodle dish instead of classic ramen. Orkin set up shop in the Islington area of London for a four-week residency, bringing his culinary vision to a fresh audience. He also established a longer-term residency in Brighton, staying in the area for 12 weeks instead of four. In an interview with the Independent, Orkin shares that his curiosity about the U.K. and the rest of Europe began in high school, but he never had an opportunity to visit. Orkin also expresses interest in opening a full-time restaurant in the U.K., which would give him a more permanent presence than the pop-up events.

Jeong Kwan was recognized for her contributions

The "Chef's Table" chefs are all pioneers in their own right, but Jeong Kwan redefines the role. Unlike the other series participants, she has no culinary training. Instead, Kwan has spent her life in a Korean Buddhist temple, using her skills to nourish the other nuns and monks. Her episode introduces viewers to traditional temple cuisine, with vegan dishes that look as beautiful as those in fine-dining restaurants. 

Since her series appearance, Kwan has shared her food philosophies with new audiences. In 2017, she traveled to New York and cooked in Le Bernardin, owned by fellow Buddhist Eric Ripert. The nun had cooked in Ripert's restaurant once before, but the exposure she received from the Netflix series made her 2017 visit a more widely anticipated event. In 2023, the nun ventured out of the temple again to lecture students at the New York City campus of the Culinary Institute of America.

In addition to positive responses from food fans, Kwan received official recognition for her skills when Asia's 50 Best Restaurants honored her with an Icon Award in 2022. This prize recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact on the culinary world.

Virgilio Martínez made history

Chef Virgilio Martínez left the world of traditional restaurant cooking to explore all the hidden ingredients Peru has to offer. In his "Chef's Table" appearance, he describes feeling separated from the rest of Peru while growing up in Lima, which starkly contrasts his eventual culinary career path. In this episode, his journey through the country's surprisingly varied ecosystems inspires unique dishes that capture the character of each region. 

Martínez's restaurant, Central, has spawned an even more far-reaching project over the years: the creation of a lab dedicated to researching the biodiversity of local Peruvian communities. The lab, Mater Iniciativa, also focuses on how to preserve the country's natural resources. Like the restaurant itself, the lab is jointly run by Martínez, his wife, Pia León, and his sister Malena. 

In 2023, Martínez's groundbreaking approach to cuisine made history on a global scale. The chef and his team won The World's Best Restaurant award, topping a list of highly accomplished chefs that even included some of his fellow "Chef's Table" alumni. Winning this award is a huge achievement, but Central's win is especially significant because of what it represents for Latin America as a whole: the restaurant is the first establishment from this region to ever hold the title.

Jordi Roca created job opportunities for neurodivergent people

Ice cream shops and fine-dining chefs don't often go hand in hand. Still, Season 4 participant Jordi Roca has successfully opened multiple Rocambolesc ice cream shop locations since his time on "Chef's Table." His episode demonstrates his exceptional pastry skills, so it's no surprise that the chef's foray into ice cream has been successful. The chain started with a tiny Girona shop in 2015 and has since expanded into other Spanish cities. 

In 2022, the renowned pastry chef added the U.S. to the list of countries with shop locations when he opened a Rocambolesc location in Houston, Texas. However, the Houston location is unique because of its workforce: the ice cream shop's employees are primarily neurodivergent, with a team that includes autistic people and people with Down Syndrome. Roca's goal for his North American Rocambolesc locations is to provide job opportunities for people who might otherwise struggle to find employment. To achieve this goal, the chain has partnered with organizations that offer job training and other helpful resources for employees. The chain also periodically posts facts on its Instagram page about the struggles neurodivergent people face in finding employment.

Albert Adrià explored new partnerships

As his "Chef's Table" episode demonstrates, Albert Adrià is a wildly creative chef who isn't afraid to experiment with new food concepts. He made a name for himself at El Bulli, working alongside his older brother, Ferran, and serving as both pastry chef and creative director. The episode highlights many of the groundbreaking dishes he created in the restaurant's test kitchen before it closed in 2011. 

In the years following his Netflix appearance, the chef has also explored fresh partnerships with other talented chefs. For example, in 2021, Adrià told Fine Dining Lovers that acclaimed French chef Alain Ducasse invited him to collaborate on a pop-up event in Paris and open a restaurant that showcases a fusion of their two cuisines. In 2023, the chef again dove into the world of fusion in a partnership with Andrew Wong. 

Although Wong specializes in Cantonese cuisine, Adrià pointed out an easy point of connection between Cantonese and Spanish cooking in a Post Magazine article. Adrià likened dim sum to tapas, and the menu the pair created for their collaborative menu reflects that comparison. As the article explains, many of the dim sum-style dishes featured Spanish ingredients, such as xiao long bao made with an Iberico ham-flavored broth.

Sean Brock combined food and music

It's easy to focus on the positives of becoming a highly successful chef, but Sean Brock's Season 6 appearance reminds viewers that there is sometimes a dark side to this success. Brock candidly discusses the highlights and setbacks of his career, his struggles with depression and overworking himself, and his eventual myasthenia gravis diagnosis. In light of these overwhelming issues, the chef embarked on a necessary hiatus from the culinary world to focus on his well-being. 

In 2021, Brock triumphantly returned to cooking when he opened Audrey, a Nashville restaurant named for his grandmother. Perhaps even more importantly, the chef brought a new mindset to his work. Brock chose only to open Audrey for dinner service so that he and his staff could maintain a healthy work/life balance. In 2023, he opened Bar Continental, a unique project that the chef described as one of his all-time favorite projects (via Restaurant-Hospitality). Bar Continental is part restaurant and part music lounge, offering diners the chance to enjoy the sound of vinyl records while they eat. As the article explains, Brock took inspiration from similar establishments in Japan, and the menu also has Japanese influences.