Hello out there!
M and I have spent a lot of time with Netflix lately, and we’ve watched some really interesting food movies/shows/documentaries lately, so I thought I’d share. Here are our picks for the best food-related flicks on Netflix right now.
This Netflix original series of six short documentaries showed up in my “Top Picks for Alli” list recently, so we decided to give it a go. As usual, Netflix knows what I’ll binge on. Each episode focuses on one chef and their journey to culinary success. Unlike most Food Network or other chef shows, creator David Gelb (known for Jiro Dreams of Sushi) really focused on what drives each chef rather than the food. What brings each story together is that each chef’s style of cooking stems from their roots in some way. Choosing a favorite of the six is nearly impossible as each story features completely different styles of cooking – from Japanese kaiseki to Patagonian open-fire cooking – and completely different areas of the world.
A few highlights…
Although there is only one woman featured in the six episodes (Chef Niki Nakayama), I appreciated that they addressed the gender gap and issues for women in the food industry. I also loved that she’s a Japanese lesbian and her partner is her sous chef. They are adorbs.
I really loved the connections between art and food in the first episode featuring one of the more animated personalities in the series, Chef Mossamo Bottura. There are some great stories with his wife in this episode and how she keeps his cooking vision fresh through continual exposure to different kinds of art.
One story that really stuck with me was Ben Shewry’s near drowning experience as a child. It’s not just a haunting story, but one that led to his great cooking epiphany. I also appreciated his connection with Maori culture and their hangi (cooking food in pits using a pit oven) because I studied abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand and rarely get to hear about Maori culture these days.
This is my new favorite movie. M and I saw it in Seattle last year on a whim and we just fell in love with it. Now that it’s on Netflix, it’s a go-to when we want something light. Chef (2014) tells the story of Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), a chef who starts out in a bit of a cooking and life rut. He gets into a Twitter feud with a very well-known food critic, has a breakdown which goes viral on the Internet (my favorite moment: YOU’RE NOT GETTING TO ME!), and ends up starting a food truck at the suggestion of his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara). With his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), and loyal friend/sous chef Martin (John Leguizamo), they road trip through the south with their food truck. It’s a light-hearted and funny story without being cheesy. It also incorporates social media in really interesting ways.
Note: This will give you a serious craving for Cuban sandwiches and a New Orleans vacation. My only meat cravings of the last two years have come from this movie!
While everyone is quite familiar with Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), there is less-known sushi documentary out there that is quite well-done. It has pretty average reviews on Netflix, but I think this is a reflection of the inaccurate movie description listed rather than the quality of the film. Sushi: the Global Catch (2012) covers the state of the fishing industry and shortage of the blue fin tuna, which is causing major issues for the underwater ecosystem. Unlike some documentaries, it actually provides some useful tools for sushi eaters to ensure you are buying sustainable fish and paying attention to what is in season in your area. We both downloaded the Seafood Watch app dutifully at the end of this documentary.
Happy watching, friends!