Star : Kristen Kish
Airing on Disney+ and produced by National Geographic Restaurants At The End of The World is a docuseries that looks at food beyond convention and the boundaries of where we expect restaurants to be. The four-part series is hosted by award-winning chef, entrepreneur, and global trailblazer Kristen Kish. In each episode, Chef Kish travels to four off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet, from Panama to Norway and more in between.
Restaurants At The End of The World follows Chef Kish as she searches for the secret ingredients—people, places, culture, and traditions—within the world’s most remote restaurants in Boquete, Panama; Svalbard, Norway; North Haven Island, Maine; and Paraty, Brazil. Running any successful venture takes a certain tenacity and grit, but those who set up deep in the wild cut off from the grid and normal supply lines make the audience understand what it takes to prepare a meal.
Chef Kish goes behind the scenes and embeds herself with local purveyors, farmers, herders, kitchen crew, managers, and head chefs to listen to their stories and witness the day-to-day balancing act required to bring unique food to the table, meal after meal. She then dives into the depths of the land to forage only the freshest ingredients and, along the way, unearths the culture and heart behind the cuisine.
Going to remote places and different cultures isn’t always done carefully. So often, docuseries exploring food and culture can easily move into a territory that others the subjects. But that’s not Restaurants At The End of The World. Chef Kish is a wonderful host who isn’t in these remote locations to teach; she is there to learn. Despite being an accomplished chef in her own right, she listens to the chefs she visits and learns about the environments they live in and how to cook like them.
It’s an adventure series in a way, with Chef Kish scaling mountains and hiking to collect ingredients, but it’s also a dive into the things that make the food and cultures she’s visiting remarkable. Chef Kish manages to understand the people she is learning from and is constantly open to seeing what they have to offer. But, of course, the best way to capture the complexity and beauty of the food is to put Chef Kish in the kitchen, which is what the series does. She learns from the chefs and offers input when ingredients aren’t available, or things need to be reworked. She pushes her limits by eating and drinking things she never knew existed and helps spotlight the rich world of food that the natural landscape offers.
While the series is relatively short and only focuses on one restaurant per episode, there are elements of the series that could easily spin off into more extensive conversations about conservation, sustainability, culture, and more beyond the meal on the table. We get to see the episodes begin to ask those questions, but they never dive quite deep enough. That said, the reason I want to know and see more is because of Chef Kish’s hosting. She’s funny at moments and pensive at others, but she always manages to make sure the audience and she leaves each episode having grown in some way. I want more of this series, and I’m inspired to explore the food in the remote places of my state.