MONCTON – Food, travel and makeovers are central to some of the most binge-worthy shows on Netflix. Restaurants On The Edge features all of that and Moncton Chef Dennis Prescott as the culinary expert.
The first season drops on Netflix U.S. and internationally on February 28, and Netflix Canada on March 14.
The author of national best-seller Eat Delicious had appeared on various talk shows before, but this is his first series.
“It was a dream come true,” said Prescott, who describes the show as really fun, exciting and joyful with some serious moments. “It doesn’t feel real to be very honest.”
On the show, Prescott and co-stars Karin Bohn – an award-winning interior designer – and chef and restaurateur Nick Liberato travel through 11 countries to help restaurant owners transform and save their businesses.
“They’re often in desperate need of help,” Prescott said, adding that they’re also in beautiful locations.
The first season covers Malta, Hong Kong, Tobermory, Costa Rica, Austria and St. Lucia, according to Marble Media, the Canadian production company behind the show.
“Running a restaurant is hard work. It’s one of the hardest industries to be in…So there’s no wonder why folks run into a challenge there,” he said. “Our team is there to help empower the people who run these restaurants.”
Prescott’s job is to help the restaurant owners upgrade their culinary offerings and bring out the “taste of the place.” He helps the restaurant owners create dishes that use local, sustainable ingredients that “makes sense” for the business and the type of cuisine they serve.
Too often, these restaurants would serve underwhelming food that’s not reflective of the local offerings, heritage and culture to cater to what they perceive tourists want, he said.
Many of them also struggle with a restaurant design that doesn’t entice people to “hang out,” that’s where Bohn steps in to help.
Liberato helped the owners for everything related to the business side of things like marketing, and even just getting “excited to be in the industry again,” Prescott said.
“We really wanted to help at all levels to make sure the restaurant was set up for success,” he said.
For Prescott, who is an advocate for a sustainable food system through the United Nations World Food Program’s Chefs’ Manifesto, the show was something he’s dreamed of because it focuses on local, sustainable options.
“I really wanted to tell a story of local sustainable food – food that’s good for you, for the planet; food that paints a picture of the place you’re in and that’s very authentic to the heritage and pays homage to the history of that place,” he said. “It’s really, really important to me and you don’t see that often in food programming.”
The former musician said he’s had high moments in his career but never thought he’d be part of a Netflix show that’s shown internationally.
Prescott was approached by Netflix for the show and only met his co-stars when he arrived at the show’s first filming location. But they’ve since become “incredibly close” friends, along with show creator Courtney Hazlett and others involved. The production itself takes a village and many months of keeping the excitement under wraps.
The show allowed Prescott to learn about new ingredients and techniques as, and other cultures from the people he met through the show. He met everyone from Michelin-star chefs to grandmothers who have been cooking for their communities for decades. He also met people running non-profits aimed at helping save food from being wasted, as well as creatives, and farmers.
“I often say farmers should be the rock stars of the culinary world because chefs can’t do what we do without farmers,” he said.
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Filming the show reminded him of the universal value of food as an act of service. Whether that’s giving your neighbour jam in the Maritimes, or sharing salsa with your loved ones, food is an offering of love.
“You meet people from different backgrounds doing very different things in their 9-to-5, but at the end of the day, everyone just loves people and loves food. And for me that’s such a cool thing,” he said.
“Ultimately, I was reminded of the importance of community…it’s a central part of this project – celebrating the human story and the connection around food and how that brings people together,” he said. “No time like today do we need more time spent at the table. So it was a great reminder to me to slow down, to spend more time with people that you love.”
“The reason I do what I do is because I found myself in this collision of food hitting the table and the moment of hush that enters the table when people take the first bite,” he said.
“From a food perspective, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in my life…I just felt more empowered than I’ve ever felt.”
Prescott has seen “bits and pieces along the way,” but he’s just as excited as the rest of us to see the show.
“I’m probably going to binge as much as I can,” he said, only half-joking. “When you shoot something for eight months, there’s a lot that happens there…It’s a really great diary almost of what I was able to do in 2019.”
Watch the show’s trailer here: