Babette's Feast,
directed by Gabriel Axel, 102 minutes, 1987, Denmark.

Academy Award: Best Foreign Language Film, 1988. Cannes: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention.

Chinese Restaurants, Cheuk Kwan, 13-part documentary series for television, 2005, Canada

©Photo by Lois Siegel

©Photo by Lois Siegel
Cheuk Kwan

El Bulli
Cooking in Progress
Directed by Gereon Wetzel
108 minutes, 2011, Germany

Essentially, you have to be a dedicated foodie to really appreciate this film.  It's slow-moving, documentary cinema,
without narration. You watch as chefs move around
a kitchen, tasting everything they make.

In a way, it's a fascinating, strange world
of machines and vacuumized food.

In the world of molecular gastronomy,
only the very rich can afford to indulge. At El Bulli, a dinner can cost over $300.  But where else would you see a fluorescent fish "lollipop" that glows in the dark.

Ferran Adria

Ferran AdriÓ, executive chef and owner of the famed restaurant "El Bulli" near Barcelona, Spain, is featured tasting
one invention after another. Gourmet magazine once referred to him as "the Salvador Dali of the kitchen," and Restaurant magazine once named El Bulli the best restaurant in the world.

The film focuses on the creative process of his staff who are dedicated to discovering new, elaborate food designs that are delicate, beautiful and most importantly, delicious.

Once a year, El Bulli is closed for six months, and the staff moves to Barcelona where they brainstorm ideas and test new dishes.
Ferran is the final taster. He decides if the recipe is working.
"Don't give me anything that tastes bad," he scowls.

These food designers come up with combinations of ingredients we would never imagine.  Being radical with the flavor is a goal. Textures are important

 One chef recognized the possibility of adding ice to food after some ice cubes dropped onto his plate of gravy and fish in a
restaurant one day.
Thus evolved an ice vinaigrette with tangerines and green olives.

It's a world of liquid nitrogen and small plates of designer

At the end of the film, we view the menu
through a series of exquisite photographs.
The food designs are breathtaking.

Pea Jelly Banana and Lime Ice Cream

Gorgonzola Globe, Imitation Peanuts, Vanilla Chips,
Coconut Sponge, Bone Marrow Tartar with Oysters,
Vanishing Ravioli, Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Pineapple Phyllo

Don't see this film if you are hungry.
And it's not exactly the type of film where you'd want
to be chopping down on popcorn.


Review by Lois Siegel

Garlic is as Good as 10 Mothers, directed by Les Blank, 51 minutes, 1980, U.S.A.
This documentary film is filled with garlic and people who love to cook with and eat garlic.
There are Spanish dancers and vampires and garlic festivals. Best watched while eating food laced with garlic.

Hold the Ketchup, directed by Albert Kish, 20 minutes, 1977, Canada

©Photo by Lois Siegel

The documentary focuses on new Canadians and what they eat.

Funny, mouth-watering and visually delectable; it takes us into the specialty food shops
 where the ingredients are bought, and into the homes

 where the food is prepared and served in the traditional way.


How to Cook Your Life
A Film by Doris Dorrie
with Zen Chef Edward Espe Brown

London Food Film Fiesta

Directed by Jonathan Nossiter, 159 minutes, 2004, France.

An entertaining documentary, examining the impact of globalization upon the international wine industry. Nossiter used digital video to film across three continents. He documents the reactions of  growers, tasters, consultants, importers and critics and explores how giant American firms are influencing independent producers in Europe by buying up vineyards and imposing their methods of production. The result: the wines start to taste the same.

Official Site

Wine at your Table: Going Organic by Hugh Kruzel

  Mostly Martha directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, 2002, 107 minutes, Germany.
Wonderful acting by Martina Gedeck and Sergio Castellito, and a real find, 10-year-old Maxime Foerste. Castellito will remind you of Marcello Mastrioni. He has the same charm.

The story of an 8-year-old who loses her mother in a car accident. Martha is a chef. She 'inherits' the child.  Sergio is the 'counter' chef. He doesn't always get along with Martha in the kitchen. The film is full of amazing culinary delights and good chemistry between Martha and Sergio by the film's end.
Creteil International Women's Film Festival, France, Grand Prix; European Film Awards: Best Actor Sergio Castellito; German Film Awards: Outstanding Individual Achievement, Actress: Martina Gedeck; German  Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actress: Martina Gedeck.

The Recipe Diaries, directed by Jacques Menard, 47 minutes, 2005, Canada
Documentary for Television

How Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid simultaneously raise a family, travel around the world looking for good recipes, and put a cookbook together.

              Jeffrey in Sri Lankan Village                                                              Naomi in Ahmedabad, India

A Cultural Odyssey
By Lois Siegel

The Spaghetti Harvest

Super Size Me, producer, director, guinea pig,  Morgan Spurlock, 2004, 96 minutes, USA.
A look at 30 days of indulging in fast food. Morgan Spurlock submits himself to a grueling challenge of eating everything on McDonalds menu during one month.
He risks his own health as he gains almost 25 pounds. He also surveys what other people are eating and what children are being fed in schools.  It's a scary revelation.

60 % of all Americans are either overweight or obese.

©Photo by Lois Siegel
Laurie Kahn-Leavitt

Directed by Laurie Kahn-Leavitt, 2003, 62 minutes, U.S.A.
The real story behind all these women freaking out over Tupperware.  A delightful, entertaining documentary that puts the 'cult' of Tupperware and its women into historical perspective. Were they really the first feminists...
a must-see.

Food Fiends

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