Over the summer, my parents suggested that I watch this movie because they know how much of a foodie I am. It’s also not that common to come across a non-documentary movie about food.
The story revolves around Carl Casper, the renowned chef protagonist, struggling with his family life and his career, all while searching for gastronomic, creative freedom. After his plan of opening a restaurant in Los Angeles fails, he decides to start a food truck business from scratch and take it across America with his fellow chef friend and his son.
From the great music and the great cinematic shots of food, the film makes you wish you could indulge in their experiences. This is definitely one of my all-time favorites, which I admittedly have watched more than a couple of times. This is because the movie combines crowd favorites by integrating food, romance, multicultural and multigenerational relationships.
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi”
I had heard good reviews about this movie, so I decided to try watching it with my parents. I was pretty tired at the time and was not in the mood to read subtitles, but the beautiful shots of Japan kept me intrigued.
Originally, the cinematographer, David Gelb, planned to feature various sushi chefs with distinctive styles titled “Planet Sushi” inspired by “Planet Earth,” the BBC documentary. But once he visited Jiro’s infamous restaurant, he realized the “story about a person living in his father’s shadow while his father [remains] in a relentless pursuit of perfection” was a much more intriguing story.
This documentary covers the dedication Sukiyabashi Jiro has towards his art: sushi. Even as an 85-year-old, he still perfects his craft on a daily basis. The renowned restaurant is located in a subway station in Tokyo with only 10 seats available, forcing customers to book their reservation a month in advance. The documentary sent me back to my family trip to Japan. One of my favorite cities was Tokyo because of its comprehensive bullet train, clean, eco-friendly city and, of course, the delicious food.
Despite their steep prices of $300 for lunch and dinner, Jiro and his son, Yoshikazu, are not trying to create an “elitist society,” but rather an appreciation for the “ultimate simplicity [that] leads to purity.” As Jiro perfects the ultimate piece of sushi, his son confronts the expectations and pressures he feels as his father’s successor.
“TED Talks: Chew on This”
Join “master bakers, food scientists, chefs, farmers and foodies” to learn the occasionally disturbing, trivial and mesmerizing truth about food in our society. If you do not have much time to relax and “binge” watch, then watching some of the TED Talk series might be a good option with shorter snippets of information compared to watching the movies listed above. The wide range of topics from vegetarianism, sustainability and ending hunger can allow any viewer to find their niche in this Netflix series.
“Chef’s Table” is by far the most sophisticated in terms of cinematography and musical choices compared to the other three recommendations listed. As a visually oriented person interested in graphic design, photography and cinematography, this series pulled me in to watch every episode released.
This six-episode series chronicles six acclaimed chefs from some of the most famous food Meccas like Los Angeles, New York City, Modena, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and Japan. Each episode highlights not only their passion for cooking, but also their upbringings and experiences that shaped their crafts today.
Amongst the other Netflix recommendations, “Chef’s Table” offers spectacular cinematography that depicts the food’s essence in coherence with the blissful music of such sensational musicians like Antonio Vivaldi and Ludwig van Beethoven. You may not want to watch this episode when hungry because the shots will make you crave the foods beautifully displayed in the series. Or perhaps you are the type that would be inspired by their accomplished craft to make your own creations! Despite these factors, you should watch “Chef’s Table” to become inspired by the famous music, memorable cinematography and innovative food concoctions.
Last but not least is my favorite show that I binge-watched two seasons consisting of thirteen 40-minute episodes over summer break. Alton Brown, also seen in “Good Eats” as the kooky yet knowledgeable chef, is the host for the show.
At the beginning of each round, Brown hands each of the four competitors “$25,000 in cold, hard cash.” The components must skillfully utilize their money in three rounds, if they make it that far, to bet on sabotages against other players that greatly affect their ability to execute the desired dish Brown requests. His devilish ways extend to making competitors shop for ingredients for a mere 60 seconds, omit often leading to contestants forgetting an important ingredient like heavy cream for the classic, rich and thick clam chowder.
Over the summer, my mother and I loved watching the ridiculousness of the sabotages because they make you question what the heck the chef will concoct with lack of proper ingredients for a dish, tools or time. Each round one competitor is eliminated, leaving two left to compete for the title of winning “Cutthroat Kitchen” as well as any remaining cash left.
If you are a foodie, you have probably watched other classic competitive shows like “Chopped,” “Iron Chef America” and “Food Network Challenge.” The notable difference that made my mother and I gravitate towards this show is the sheer comicality of the sabotages and Brown’s two-faced personality contrasting between the devil and the angel. Try watching this show if you are in the mood for entertainment as well as watching renowned chefs cooking against the odds in an excruciating time crunch.
One of the best of this genre is Tampopo, a true classic if you can get it.