David Gelb’s culinary documentary series Chef’s Table has evolved over the last three years to include a more diverse roster of chefs and restaurants, but one thing has always stayed the same: the intense music that plays during the opening credits sequence. The bracing tune instantly sucks you into the high-stakes world of Chef’s Table, where chefs plate their food with the same mix of precision and passion that you might expect from a Juilliard-trained violinist. Since the series is now inextricably linked to this alluring melody, you may have wondered: What is that piece of music, exactly?
The answer: It’s a segment of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi’s best-known work, “The Four Seasons” (or “Le quattro stagioni” in Italian). That specific melody is from Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, “L’inverno” (Winter), and the version used in Chef’s Table was recomposed by contemporary composer Max Richter. Perhaps more familiar, however, is Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, “La primavera” (Spring), which is so ubiquitous that it might very well be the first tune that pops into your brain when you think of “classical music.”
Published in 1725, the violin concerti was revolutionary for its time not only because of the way that it represented nature, but also because it was paired with accompanying sonnets that added a narrative element to the music. It’s fitting then, that a narrative documentary series about people who make food that reflects nature would use a piece of this music as its opening theme. But Chef’s Table isn’t the only show or movie that’s used “L’inverno,” which, according to IMDB, is more common than the autumn or summer movements, though of course far less familiar than spring: Notes of “L’inverno” have appeared in everything from Archer to Six Feet Under to Pretty Woman, Tin Cup to Old Boy.
You can listen to Richter’s version of the “Winter” concerto on Spotify. Or, if you prefer to have nightmares for the rest of your life, watch this video of some cloaked, masked performers cavorting around the streets of Venice as “L’inverno” plays in the background:
For more on what to expect from Chef’s Table, check out Eater’s guide to the entire Netflix series.