If it was not for the power and alure of BL, I find no other reason for a Thai food company to build a story around two boys living together – one a chef and one a musician, to showcase recipes and promote their channel. However, I am so glad that Central Food TV gave us this beautiful story revolving around food, music, and a very healthy romance.
– Edited by TheFNGee
To be honest, I was not aware of the series or planning to watch it immediately if I had not first seen He, She, It once the final installment came out. My immediate crush on Jeff Satur made me start Ingredients. I was so surprised to see Jeff and Gameplay in such different roles and absolutely nailing them. As Win and Top, they were so natural and convincing that at times I felt I was watching a live feed of two boys living together and working on their dreams.
Even though I liked the actors instantly, I had my doubts about the story and the writing. I feared it would feel like an extended food commercial using two pretty faces. But as I watched the series, I marveled at the way this series made its way into my heart and how. I must say that having such short episodes and the release pattern being only every two weeks made it harder to connect to it initially. So I started watching 3-4 episodes in one go, and it worked in my favor because I found time to appreciate the slow burn romance of the lead characters and see them grow together both in the relationship and their life.
The opening episodes were a little inconsistent because I felt the writing was biased towards Top, the Chef. While Top’s character was absolute boyfriend material, Marwin felt like a spoiled brat and totally clueless for all the efforts by Top. In few scenes, he even acted like taking Top’s cooking and his presence in his life for granted in front of his friends. I would wonder how and why Top would fall in love with Win because I could not find one redeeming quality about Win. Thankfully, as the story progressed, we saw the reform, the guilt, the growth in Win’s character, and a glimpse into his real feelings for Top. Also, if slow burn fluff is not your preferred genre, you cannot appreciate all the longing, the gazes, shy smiles, and oh, such a flustered Top to make anyone giggle with excitement.
My favorite episode was “Regrets,” where Win’s family comes to meet with him. Having a meal together, and Win recalls Top’s comment about success having no meaning if there are no loved ones to share it with – and that makes him connect with his family. Another episode that I liked was “Caring,” where for once, we see Win’s heartfelt worries about Top and Win running around to look after Top, who had taken ill. In such subtle ways, we see the romance building – through jealousy, possessive actions, drunk kisses, and a song that feels more like a confession.
The series is not coherent in the way the story is narrated. It is more like a combination of small vignettes, some involving just the boys, some with friends, family, and how in the middle of all this, they never stop working for their dreams and supporting each other in their albeit limited ways. This series was one of the few BL shows from Thailand where the leads have a life of their own. Their struggles are not being sourced from each other but rather something that the viewers can relate to easily. Also, since the series spanned around seven months, it used the pandemic as a way of living, and nothing felt sensationalized or extreme in the setting. That is a sign of good, patient writing, and direction for this series. Though the initial episodes were not best in terms of quality, Jeff and Gameplay grew into their roles with conviction and made it worth watching every scene in which they were together.
As the story progressed, the quality improved visibly, and so did their chemistry. The episodes were quite realistic and complete in and of themselves, but somehow, the story line wasn’t always as cohesive as it could have been. Every episode was a step forward for Win and Top’s story; however, most side characters were not referred to again after their intial appearance, which might impact some viewers’ overall satisfaction.
Did I have any such complaints? Not in the last ten episodes because it seemed that Win and Top had the whole married-gays energy and understanding of each other. They respected each other, cared for each other, indulged each other, were jealous and upset when they sensed a competitor or distance, but always made up for any negative by their actions and not just empty words. The ‘confession scene’ and the reason that Win finally realized how he truly loves Top was quite bittersweet for me, but the kiss and the hand-holding were almost healing. In the last two episodes, as Win and Top get ready for the next phase of their life, it was heartwarming to see them seek strength and comfort through hugs, conversations, hand-holding, and letting their feelings maturely bare themselves.
For me, Win and Top are a perfect example of an ideal couple and very good people with relatable feelings, along with insecurities that can affect us all. As actors, Jeff and Gameplay have managed to impress me with every episode, and they are deserving of the hype for their next roles together. Not to forget, Jeff sang the OST for the show and other tracks used in this series, and every single one was fantastic. I am as much in love with his singing, with his acting and of course, his good looks. If you haven’t seen or finished the series, I envy you for being able to binge-watch all of this one right away. It is a delight to see an adult BL story without much drama and all the sweetness that a romance story should bring to the table.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars [See our Review Guide]