While all living animals require sustenance to fuel their bodies, the relationship between humanity and food is far more complex than simply a means of survival. A wealth of iconic films, television series, and songs have been created to pay homage to dishes all across the globe, and beyond the world of media, each individual culture across the planet is intimately familiar with the concept of “comfort food.” From Louisiana’s jambalaya to Colombia’s ajiaco to South Korea’s tteokbokki, these storied dishes highlight the deep solace that humans can find through a simple meal—and in the modern era, Silent Chef showcases this storied relationship at its most visually stunning.
Produced at the behest of Chef John Fraser and José Andrés Media, this three-episode series made its debut in September 2023, available for all to enjoy through Calm’s YouTube channel. In stark contrast to a typical cooking showcase, Chef Fraser refrains from addressing the audience directly throughout each episode, instead choosing to use nothing more than soft ambient sounds and bright visuals to portray the culinary prowess of one of Long Island’s most bucolic regions.
Taking place across the North Fork of Long Island, each episode of Silent Chef is dedicated to one locally-produced ingredient, following Chef Fraser as he chooses the perfect proteins to craft his meal. To kick off the series, viewers can bask in the splendor of one of North America’s most renowned vegetables—the tomato—as he explores KK’s The Farm, combining the crop with other biodynamically-grown produce including garlic, celery, and peppers to craft a particularly picturesque pasta dish that’s packed with Sardinian lorighittas.
Moving onward, Chef Fraser sets off along the frigid waters of Shelter Island with Little Ram Oysters in search of fresh, farm-raised shellfish. Post-harvest, the episode transports viewers to the sloping dunes of the North Fork as he crafts a fire pit on the beach, grilling the oysters in a succulent herb butter paired with a side of crispy potatoes. And finally, the third episode of the series culminates in a flavorful dish from the northern reaches of Iberia: the Basque cheesecake. After a visit to Catapano Dairy Farm for a goat milking demonstration, Chef Fraser incorporates fresh chèvre, eggs, and cream into the base of the dish, ultimately topping the finished product with a rich glaze formed from red wine and a complex blend of spices.
While the first iteration of Silent Chef highlights the thriving food scene of Suffolk County, future series will likely span far beyond the reaches of the Empire State. Down the line, Chef Fraser has expressed an interest in showcasing the cuisine of the Aegean, a vast sea in the Mediterranean that’s renowned for its thriving seafood scene and many idyllic islands. Yet no matter what the series portrays in the future, Chef Fraser is certain to approach each individual ingredient with a strong focus on mindfulness.
“In a world with so much noise, I was inspired to create Silent Chef as a new food storytelling platform that leaves space for the viewer to participate and lean in,” he says. “The episodes are designed to spark a sensual curiosity for some of the most special places, products, and people in the world while also being meditative and introspective.”