REVIEW: “Selena + Chef,” Episodes 11-13

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Selena+Chef episodes 11-13

Selena continues her quarantine cooking journey in a new season of Selena+ChefIn Selena+Chef episodes 11-13, the nascent chef receives more virtual tutelage from famous chefs, as she learns to make a variety of dishes. As always, the results are delicious and delightful.

The show’s trademark giddiness and humor as Selena continues her cooking journey is better this season. While it was entertaining in the first, it could be over the top sometimes. As the show increasingly finds its footing, it achieves a better overall balance between focusing on humor and the recipes at hand. There is more entertaining chatter between her and the chefs, especially as she increasingly bolsters her confidence in her cooking. But the show wouldn’t work if she was fully confident, allowing for some delightful cooking programming.

The best episode is when she’s joined by chef and humanitarian JJ Johnson, who is the best mentor across these three episodes. Making his seafood gumbo and rice, Selena and the audience learn the intricacies of making this classic African-American and Creole dish. I haven’t attempted making gumbo myself, but I always thought it was similar to making other tomato-based stews. However, it is actually quite a complicated dish with various steps and ingredients, and Johnson does a great job of showing the overall process. JJ also explains the origin of the word “gumbo” from West Africa,” conveying the long history of the famous dish in the African-American community.

The other chefs have some great contributions as well. Curtis Stone teaches Selena how to make picnic food (for a household meal) with steak sandwiches and key lime pie parfait. They look fantastic, and Selena improves her knife skills in the process of making these and other dishes in these episodes. There’s also a great conversation between the two in this episode touching on the mental health difficulties of living through this pandemic, something to which we can all relate. José Andrés’ tapas look absolutely fantastic, incorporating Spanish and Catalonian culture in this cuisine that thankfully doesn’t require as many knife skills.

The show remains entertaining as Selena tries (and initially fails) at new cooking tricks. It’s good that the dishes she makes are varied enough so that the show remains fresh, as one could fall easily into making the same types of foods over and over again. I am certainly guilty of this, and I feel as though the show is a great reminder to go out of our comfort zones to make a wider variety of dishes while we’re all at home. As JJ says in the show, “Cooking is therapeutic,” especially in these trying pandemic times. I know it certainly has been for me.

As always, the Selena and the show support charities of the chefs’ choices, including Chrysalis, Harlem Grown, and World Central Kitchen. All of these organizations are doing tremendous work to support the people suffering most during this pandemic, and it’s great to see the show highlight them as always.

Selena+Chef episodes 11-13 are a visual and savory treat. The dishes look delicious, Selena keeps improving her cooking techniques, and the guest chefs are a delight. While the dishes made may not be the most challenging or unique, they still are great to watch being made on the show. Hopefully, as the season continues Selena’s cooking prowess improves with more and varied dishes. But for now, this is a great start to the season.

You can watch all episodes of Selena+Chef on HBO Max.

"Selena + Chef" Episodes 11-13
  • 8.6/10
    "Selena + Chef" Episodes 11-13 - 8.6/10
8.6/10

TL;DR

Selena+Chef episodes 11-13 are a visual and savory treat. The dishes look delicious, Selena keeps improving her cooking techniques, and the guest chefs are a delight. While the dishes made may not be the most challenging or unique, they still are great to watch being made on the show. Hopefully, as the season continues Selena’s cooking prowess improves with more and varied dishes. But for now, this is a great start to the season.