Food obsessives (we know who we are) are living in a golden age of culinary documentaries. It seems like there’s a new one out every week. From the ups and downs of the restaurant industry to profiles of great chefs, there’s a lot to chew on. It was so hard to limit this to only 10 – we have at least another 8 that could have gone on the list. We’re excited about some of the as-yet-released films and look forward to settling down with a good snack to see them.
Have you watched any of these films? Let us know which ones you’ve seen – or want to see – in the comments below. We think it’s time to enjoy a food documentary binge fest, don’t you?
1. The Quest of Alain Ducasse (2017)
Even this trailer is exciting to watch. Follow iconic French chef Alain Ducasse as he travels the world exploring food and checking on his 23 international restaurants … including the new restaurant he’s opening in the Palace of Versailles. Stunning! We can’t wait until June 8 when it hits theaters, Amazon and iTunes.
2. Ramen Heads (2018)
Everyone loves ramen! But only ramen heads will wait in line for 5 hours to get a bowl of the most perfect ramen. Dive in deep and see what the cult of ramen looks like in Japan. Currently playing at film festivals – we’re anxiously awaiting the wide release.
3. For Grace (2016)
Watch Chicago chef Curtis Duffy build his dream restaurant while his personal life falls apart. With his vaulting ambition, Duffy ultimately created a 3-Michelin Star restaurant – Grace, named for his daughter – and won acclaim as one of the best in U.S. What a tale! Streaming on Netflix and Amazon.
4. The Contender (2015)
Follow American chefs, Rich Rosendale and Corey Siegel, as they train for a year to compete at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in France. This is the world championship of cooking, and the planning and preparing are beyond intense. The documentary follows the process and reveals what it takes to compete at that level. Find it on Amazon Prime.
5. Knife Skills (2017)
We wrote a whole post about this documentary, and highly recommend you watch it. Just under 40 minutes long, this film is about a French restaurant in Cleveland that trains and employs men and women just out of prison. It’s inspiring in many ways – and it was nominated for an Academy Award. Available free on YouTube.
6. Michelin Stars – Tales from the Kitchen (2017)
We really want to see this one. The film goes behind the scenes to reveal how Michelin awards stars, and how chefs hold on to them. It’s a must for serious food lovers and features Alain Ducasse, Daniel Humm, René Redzepi, Andoni Aduriz, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Victor Arquinzoniz, Guy Savoy and many others. So far this film is only playing at festivals, but keep an eye out for its release. The official website has screen dates.
7. Step Up to the Plate (2012)
This is for the hardcore foodies. A pensive look at Chef Michel Bras – a kinder, gentler kind of chef – and his legendary 3-Michelin Star hotel-restaurant in the South of France. The film follows the story of Michel handing over his restaurant to his son Sébastien in 2010. Stirring and beautifully filmed, this movie gives you a rare glimpse into a world-renowned kitchen and the culinary process of a great chef. Streaming on Amazon.
8. King Georges (2016)
Georges Perrier came to Philadelphia in 1967 and opened Le Bec-Fin three years later. Le Bec-Fin was “one of the last classic French restaurants in the country,” according to Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, all interviewed for this film. Perrier cooked for 40 years, leaving the restaurant in 2012, and his efforts put Philadelphia on the culinary map. This bittersweet documentary follows the last years of his storied career in the kitchen. Streaming on Amazon.
9. Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent (2016)
For those who don’t know, Tower was the chef at Chez Panisse in the early days. He was the father of the California food revolution, a huge personality, and his story is fascinating. Streaming on Netflix as of this writing.
10. City of Gold (2015)
Follow critic Jonathan Gold – the first food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize – on his beat of the ethnic restaurants in Los Angeles, where other critics don’t bother to tread. As a self-proclaimed “culinary geographer,” Gold explores the vast city and finds restaurants tucked in strip malls and unexpected storefronts. As much a portrait of an ethnically-complex city as of the critic himself. Warning: do not watch this movie hungry. Streaming on Amazon.
Those are the 10 food documentaries we limited ourselves to. What are the ones you love that we missed? Tell us in the comments, and we’ll put them on the watch list.
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