Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Foodies at Hot Docs

I was very interested in checking out the Documentary FOODIES at the Hot Docs Film Festival this week in Toronto since I also have a blog called Starving Foodie and have a lot of food blogger friends.  It wasn't the film that I expected though.

It's a documentary made by a Swedish production company and 3 directors,  Thomas Jackson, Charlotte Landellus and Henrik Stockare who became interested in exploring the world of foodies after speaking with some high profile chefs who follow where these global foodies go and what they say about the food.  It focuses on 5 different Foodies, an outspoken New Yorker, Steve Plotnicki, who used to work in the music business.  A demanding Brit Andy Hayler, who thinks his opinions are extremely important.  A younger Asian male  and the female Katie Keiko, who should totally get together and go to these restaurants together.  And a European fashion model Aiste Miseviciutewho loves to travel and explore different restaurants and take photos of her travels and meet up with friends along the way.

It was filled with a lot of "food porn" though and a lot of "what is that" kind of food.

They all say that they pay for their own meals and write whatever they want on their blogs.  They seem to have an endless supply of cash to travel the world and eat at all of the Michelin Star restaurants.  One is funded by his parents,  the young Asian girl saves her money to travel.  The fashion model also pays her own way.  The 2 older gentleman seem to have amassed their fortunes and now spend it travelling anywhere they want to.   One of the gentlemen has been to all of the Michelin star restaurants in the current years guide and is creating his own guide from an algorithm  he created based on the number of times the foodies eat at the restaurants.

Personally I couldn't relate to these Foodies.  They are nothing like the group of food bloggers that I meet up with at local media events and festivals in the city.  Maybe that's because we are Canadian and we are all very polite and grateful for a good meal.  We don't have deep pockets although a few are able to travel they aren't hitting up all of the Michelin star restaurants.  I only know one foodie who works in the medical profession who can afford to go to some of these restaurants.

Other than the model who seemed very personable and gracious I found a lot of the other ones kind of obnoxious and a bit rude.  The 2 younger Asian foodies seemed to be very withdrawn even.

My foodie friends are all very social and friendly so it was a bit odd for me to watch some of them.

What I enjoyed about the film was seeing all the different restaurants around the world.  Places I had never heard of in a lot of remote locations even.

It seems to be very popular at Hot Docs and I know that there are a whole lot of foodies in Toronto so I bet they were interested in seeing this film.

The film didn't have the heart that the other film I saw FOR GRACE  did but if you are into looking into the world of a few global food travellers then this is the film you should check out.

The New York man Steve Plotnicki was in attendance with the director for the Q&A after the film.  When asked where he had lunch he said Dynasty in Yorkville.  The audience just hummed...  not exactly where everyone expected him to go but he said it was his friend that chose the restaurant.

One thing of note.   Most of the scenes were shot of the foodies dining alone because the restaurants wouldn't let them film the other diners so it seemed a bit weird.  They said that they don't normally dine alone.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Documentary - For Grace

This week the Hot Docs Documentary Festival is going on in Toronto and I am hoping to see a few Food Documentaries and some other films.  Last night I went to see "For Grace".  a film by Chicago Tribune Food Writer and Filmmaker Kevin Pang and fellow Chicago filmmaker Mark Helenowski.

The story started as a short video and article project about Michelin Star Chef Curtis Duffy for the Chicago Tribune but once they realized it was more than a story about a superstar chef opening a new restaurant they decided to turn it into a feature documentary.

The film starts off similar to one of those restaurant makeover shows.  Chef Duffy is about to leave the restaurant Avenues to open his dream restaurant with his good friend and business partner.
You think you are about to watch a film about the struggles of opening a high end restaurant in Chicago and it is that but then it turns into a whole lot more.  The Chef lost both of his parents in a family tragedy just as he was beginning his culinary journey and a lovely Home Ec teacher took him under her wing and gave him support and guidance and is still in touch with him and was like a mother to him when he didn't have one.  He is newly divorced with 2 young girls at a time in his life when the pressure is on to succeed.  With his fractured family life he pours all of his time and energy into his culinary dream.  He opens his restaurant "For Grace" 9 months later than planned and a year later he receives 3 Michelin stars for the Best New Restaurant in Chicago.

Chef Duffy apprenticed with acclaimed Chef Greg Achatz and the two chefs share similar tragedies to success stories and how to work hard and still be a good person and succeed.  Chef Achatz had a mouth Cancer illness that he survived and he was featured in the documentary "Spinning Plates"

This film had many big guys in the audience shedding a tear at the end of the film.  While it had a bit of food porn it was a whole lot more than a story about food.  It was a story about working hard and overcoming life's difficult situations and how to maintain integrity and life balance in the process.

Chef Duffy's family are the people he spends up to 16 hours a day with everyday at the restaurant but it's his dream and he has sacrificed a lot to achieve his dream.

The filmmakers were in town for their premiere screening at the Scotiabank theatre last night but unfortunately the subject wasn't able to be at that screening.  Writer Pang who lives in Chicago now but happens to have lived in Scarborough as a kid.

I really enjoyed Chef Duffy's story, his passion and his great heart.

He will be in attendance for the second screening.  I wish I could attend that one.  I would love to meet him one day and wish that I could afford to go to his restaurant.  His restaurant serves plates at $700 each and that's why everything must be perfection.