East Side Sushi

Equal parts charming and clumsy. It felt like a senior project, and the script had all the usual characters, as if cut from film school cardboard. But there is heart, and… Oakland.

Noma: My Perfect Storm

Having had a meal at Noma, I was of course intrigued to see this. It’s interesting to learn about the personalities and lives of the chefs whose food we have eaten, and this is no exception. In some cases it’s  a letdown, and I wouldn’t want to go back. Not the case with René Redzepi. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Chef

Mixed feelings about this one. The cast is… not quite right. Jon Favreau is the right build for this part, and his acting is game. But Sofia Vergara is as unbelievable here as she always is. She just doesn’t fit in. Did they simply need a Latina/erstwhile Cuban to take the story to Miami? And Robert Downey Jr.? Scarlett Johansson? Dustin Hoffman? Competent as they are in their roles, their presence detracts from a story that should remain smaller and more nuanced…

So the movie becomes a little too big for its britches. But I think they got the cooking part right, for the most part. And given lots of good music, a lot of tasty-looking food, and a lot of heart, I wouldn’t tell you not to watch it. Just keep Big Night in mind, when you are ready for a truly charming film about restaurants and chefs.

 

Three Stars

Do Michelin Stars matter? The verdict seems to be yes. Almost all of the chefs want them, even though along with the increase in customers come pressure and stress. It was interesting to compare the styles of these various chefs – some of whom don’t seem to spend much time in the kitchen, actually. But just as interesting were the obvious choices who didn’t even appear in the film – by their choice or by omission? Where was Thomas Keller? Adrian Ferra? Grant Achatz? Daniel Boulud? Alain Ducasse? Eric Ripert?

Who came off worst? The director of the Michelin guides – what a pompous, self-important ass. And I bet René Redzepi was not happy that his blowup in the kitchen was included…

And best? I’d vote for Nadia Santini, who seemed genuinely happy – and ego-free – cooking with other family members in a little kitchen in Tuscany.

El Bulli

6 months on, 6 months off. No wonder it was so hard to get a table.

Feran strikes me as one of the least charismatic chefs ever. Not exactly unlikeable, but somehow lacking in verve or panache. He seems more German than Spanish.

Still, it’s a little sad to know that El Bulli is closing, and I’ll never be able to go. Although, now that I think of it, the restaurant in Berlin that was associated with El Bulli was a big disappointment…

Soul Kitchen

Somehow I didn’t know, or had forgotten, that this film was not American. It tries to borrow from too many Hollywood storylines though, and didn’t know what it wanted to be. Think Big Night crossed with some lightweight gangster flick crossed with boy-ends-up-with-the-girl-he-didn’t-know-he-needed. Not terrible, but not as charming as it wanted to be.