Producer Brian McGinn Reveals The Most Difficult Part Of Making Street Food And Chef's Table - Exclusive

Producer Brian McGinn is a seasoned veteran in the food show genre at this point — since 2015, he has produced food-centered programming for Netflix. What started with the gourmet world of "Chef's Table" has now expanded with the more approachable, everyday bites of "Street Food." As the name implies, the show highlights street foods from around the world, showcasing the excellent cuisine you can get without sitting in a high-end restaurant and paying the price for it.

The most recent season of "Street Food" — and the first of either show since the pandemic — features stops in the United States. You would think after all this time that the shows would have become easier to produce, but some things just can't be simplified. In an exclusive interview, we sat down with Brian McGinn to find out what part of making food documentary shows is still difficult all these years later.

The most difficult part of documenting food

"Street Food" came out of the travel and experiences done for "Chef's Table." "One of the things that we noticed," said Brian McGinn, "was everywhere that we went, we ended up loving getting introduced to the local street food." Both shows follow specific chefs and discuss their craft and how they do what they do, though in very different settings.

When asked what the most difficult part of creating the shows was, McGinn did not hesitate in his response. "Casting," he said. When asked why, he elaborated, "Because there's always way more folks that we would love to feature, and way more cities, honestly." 

The shows are, of course, under resource constraints, and the United States is an expansive country; there are so many cities and so much good food that it can be difficult to figure out who and what to show and what to cut. "That's the hardest part — it's casting, and narrowing down what we're actually going to do, because there's way more things than we actually have time and resources to cover," McGinn said.

You have to get it right

Brian McGinn explained that it's vitally important to get the casting right — not only because the show's main focus is the chefs, but also because "Street Food" highlights those in food preparation who do not always get the recognition of higher-end chefs. "We thought it'd be really cool to be able to tell some of these stories of people who are working with the same dedication and passion and talent as a lot of the people that we profile on 'Chef's Table,' but don't traditionally get the same spotlight shown on them."

Finding the right candidates for casting isn't just about making great food; it's also about the story they can share. McGinn said, "There's something that makes their food great, and then there's something that we look for as well, which is that personal story that will be universal and connect with more people around the world."

Naturally, the food is good, but the show wants to look deeper by finding the root of its story. In doing so, "Street Food" is able to foster a connection with its viewers. "That story hopefully is emotional to viewers, and they come away from seeing the protagonists and the characters that we feature in our shows being presented with life's obstacles. How they respond and figure out a way to either find their voice, or to succeed, support their families, we hope that those stories end up resonating with people that are watching at home," McGinn shared.

"Street Food USA" is streaming now on Netflix.