I'm actually away on a quilting retreat this week (the one I go to twice a year, at the gorgeous Bishop's Ranch here in Healdsburg) but I thought I'd share some more movies with you. You know, in case you're sitting around with nothing to do. Ahem.
So you remember how I was saying that I've been on a documentary kick? I love movies that look behind the scenes at people or events or even every-day matters. Getting to see the inner workings of things just fascinates me, I guess. And there are a bunch of wonderful documentaries that deal with the world of food -- cooks' lives, restaurants, the mastery of special cooking skills. I've watched some and I've got a list of more to watch. Here are some I've really enjoyed:
The idea of running a restaurant seems rather nightmarish to me, frankly. The long and mostly nighttime hours. The hot, noisy kitchen. Cooking the same things night after night. Definitely not a career path for me. But I watched "Spinning Plates" yesterday, and I loved it. This film takes a look inside three totally different restaurants -- one of the few American restaurants to have 3 Michelin stars, Alinea in Chicago; a struggling mom and pop Mexican restaurant in Arizona, and a multi-generational, center-of-the-community homestyle restaurant in the midwest. It was fascinating, truly fascinating, and I had tears in my eyes at various points. There's a reason this movie has won so many awards. You can watch the official trailer here.
Another food movie that was really intriguing was "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." The film spotlights Jiro Ono, an 85-year old sushi master, and his two sons. Jiro's life story, and the amazing attention he pays to this essential Japanese food, is fascinating. And what a contrast from the restaurants featured in "Spinning Plates" - Jiro's famous sushi place seats about 10 people and is in a Tokyo subway station! Here's the movie trailer.
And more on the restaurant theme. "The Restaurateur" follows Danny Meyer, a successful New York City restaurant owner, as he opens not one, but two restaurants in NYC at the same time. The film follows him as he conceives of the vision for each restaurant, designs the spaces, watches them come to reality, and copes with the delays -- construction problems, chef changes, all sorts of issues. Again, it's not a life I'd ever want, but it sure is interesting to watch and of course it makes me think of my favorite local restaurants, and the balancing act that they must do every day to make it work. One really fun highlight of this movie is seeing a very young Tom Colicchio (with hair!) who was Meyer's partner and executive chef. Here's the trailer.
And then there's the world of french pastry. "Kings of Pastry" highlights several experienced pastry chefs in France as they prepare to compete in a national "Meilleurs Ouvriers de France" competition designed to identify the highest level of artisans in the world of pastry. (You can read more about the details of the competition here. The pastry making is amazing, but what I really loved was seeing how serious and dedicated and obsessed these guys were with their competition planning practicing. Dedication, chocolate, and butter. All in one movie. Check out the trailer.
There are more on my "to watch" list:
"Entre les Bras," -- the English title is "Step Up to the Plate." It's billed as a documentary on French chef Michel Bras and his decision to hand over his restaurant to his son, Sebastien, who has been working with him for 15 years.
"El Bulli: Cooking in Progress" -- a Spanish film about the creation of a Michelin-rated three star restaurant in Barcelona.
"Somm," a movie about four young hopefuls trying to earn the title of Master Sommelier.
"Three Stars" , about various restaurants and chefs who have earned the highly sought 3- star Michelin rating.
I'll let you know what I think when I've seen them!