Cut the Cord: Food and Drink
August 2022. Volume 1, Issue 8.
Welcome back to Cut the Cord.
This month’s edition is all about food, wine, cooking, chefs, and the restaurant industry. I’m interested in all of those things as home cook, but Hollywood doesn’t always do that world justice. So let’s talk about a few times the movies got it right.
As always, if you have a theme suggestion, feel free to email us back or leave a comment.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Revered sushi chef Jiro Ono strives for perfection in his work, while his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has trouble living up to his father’s legacy.
One of the things I find the most compelling about cooking, or in this case, crafting the perfect piece of sushi, is just that - the relentless pursuit of perfection.
Jiro Ono is a master at what he does. He's award-decorated, he's served Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama, he's arguably the most notorious sushi chef in the world - but none of that would mean anything if he got the next piece wrong.
That pursuit, that dedication, that focus - that's what makes him the best in the world. Being good would never be good enough.
Ask his son.
Kitchen Nightmares (2007-2014)
Chef Gordon Ramsay hits the road to help struggling restaurants all over the United States turn their luck around. Ramsay examines the problems each establishment faces, from unsanitary refrigerators to lazy or inexperienced staff, and searches for resolutions. With help from his team, Ramsay redecorates each eatery to give it a fresh new look and updates the menu as needed. (IMDB)
I had to try very hard to not just make this a Gordon Ramsay list. I could've written an entire edition on the plethora of Ramsay content, but I figured that wouldn't quite have universal appeal - so instead I chose my two favorites.
Kitchen Nightmares is one of my favorite shows to watch if I just have like 20 minutes. I want to see Gordon eat some undercooked, oversalted, or down-right undigestable food. I want to see him make fun of them. I want to see him yell at them.
I don't care so much about actually turning the restaurant around. I've watched most of this series and I think I've finished like four episodes.
I just like to live in a fantasy world where I know more about running a restaurant than these people. Actually, I might...
Boiling Point (2021)
A head chef balances multiple personal and professional crises at a popular restaurant in London.
I'm not quite sure how Boiling Point went so far under the radar last year.
An aptly named film, it's a chaotic, bum-rush of a movie all about the rapid-fire nature of working in a kitchen. Not only juggling all of the food and food prep, but the cleanliness, the front of house, and a favorite plot device of these movies: the food critic.
How do they accomplish that nonstop energy? They filmed the whole movie in one take. No gimmicks, no cuts, for real. And they only got to film four attempts before the pandemic stopped production. They used the third take.
That shows just how well choreographed the whole thing was. Running around scrambling, everyone performing in their roles, time crunches - wait, that's just how professional kitchens work!
Adam Jones is a Chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.
I cannot tell you that Burnt is a great movie.
In fact, it doesn’t really work, mainly because Bradley Cooper has never been nearly as cool as his character is supposed to be.
But I enjoyed all the stuff about cooking! And isn't that what this whole thing is about?
It's probably about suggesting good movies, right?
It might be a step below the others, but it's not bad. I wouldn't recommend anything bad.
And it has some great cooking scenes!
Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! (2017)
Muckraking filmmaker Morgan Spurlock reignites his battle with the food industry — this time from behind the register — as he opens his own fast food restaurant.
I don't care if it hasn't aged gracefully, I think Super Size Me is an excellent documentary. Sure, it's pretty obvious that you'll gain weight and feel sluggish if you eat nothing but McDonald's for a month. But Morgan Spurlock is a significantly better filmmaker than he is a scientist.
When he took that same concept to the tv show 30 Days, I watched that too. I liked his Simpsons documentary and sought out a few others as well.
When Spurlock outed himself in the midst of the #MeToo movement for his inapproriate behavior and conduct in both professional settings and his personal life, it put Super Size Me 2 on hold. And it made me feel guilty for wanting to see it.
If you don't want to see it for that very reason, I understand.
But on its own merits, Holy Chicken! has succeeded in once again exposing the lies of the fast food industry. We fell for all of their rebrandings in the wake of his first expose and although we thought it did, nothing changed.
Do you know what phrases like "free range" or "farm to table" really mean? Maybe you should. He's still a better documentarian than a researcher (or in this case, restauranteur), but it's still an informative watch.
MasterChef Junior (2013-)
Denmark's food loving protégés aged ten to fifteen years old show their precocious culinary skills to the judges in the MasterChef kitchen and fiercely compete for the MasterChef Junior title. (IMDB)
My other Gordon pick, but the real stars of this show are the kids.
I simply don't understand how their little kid brains are this smart and cool and badass and talented.
Dare me to buy tickets to the live touring show when it comes to my city next month. You won't.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb unless otherwise noted.