In spite of the constant media dialogue concerning identity and separatism, the world is an increasingly shrinking and integrated place. Look no further than The Final Table for evidence of this. A cooking competition show isn’t the most obvious indicator of goodwill amongst the people of planet Earth but as associate producer Grivas Kopti will tell you, “There’s something about food that brings us together; creating interest and excitement about someone else’s culture, without any need for words.” What began as a web-television series has become a streaming international hit program. Netflix broadcasts The Final Table to all of its one-hundred-ninety countries. With one-hundred-eighteen million subscribers, this TV show has become a vehicle for good food and goodwill. The move towards programing that simultaneously delineates different cultures while also showing their universal appeal has been a majorly benevolent proponent of Netflix’s continually increasing success and profits.
Except for the Olympics, competition between different countries in not highly embraced. In the reality cooking competition, The Final Table, twelve professional teams compete against each other by creating cuisine based on each episode's country theme. Food critics, culturally significant individuals from each country, and celebrity chefs judge dishes originating in different parts of the world. The competing chefs and the viewing audience learn about the culture and cuisine of a number of nations, including Mexico, Spain, England, Japan, India and the U.S. through this process. The Final Table made its Netflix premiere on November 20, 2018.
Every aspect of a production such as this is a global undertaking, including the work behind the scenes. Grivas worked with translators and other Producers from across nine countries (Mexico, Spain, UK, USA, France, Japan, Brazil, Italy, India) during The Final Table’s premier season. Pre-interviews and main interviews were shot across the world and Kopti made certain that the contestants and others arrived safe and sound for the competition segment shoots. Kopti utilized social media as an incendiary factor to spark the interest of viewers abroad and attract them to the show. His work both directly and through the agents of the world-renowned Michelin-star chefs brought culinary fans “in the know” to the show as well. The AP relates, “Producing a show in today’s climate means you have to create something which possesses its own unique twist yet also contains something in its DNA that will appeal to almost anyone. It’s not about making something more bland; in fact, quite the opposite. There is something which viewers feel they can take ownership of in our show, something that is truly theirs. The magic of the competition is that viewers find something in what others have to offer that they like.” It’s accurate to state that this concept is a bridge…wrapped in the form of a cooking competition. The tone achieved through the keen perception of Grivas in how to display this is inseparable from the enthusiastic response of fans.
The finale of the first season breaks the template of the competition and splits the final remaining team into individual competitors. They face off to create distinctive signature dishes for a panel of nine legendary chefs. Season one winner Timothy Hollingsworth confirms that the popularity of the show, manifested by Grivas and the entire team which propelled his career. He professes, “The whole purpose of getting on the show was the marketing value that Netflix has. I knew it was going to be a huge accolade to win.”