I suppose binge watching is a bit healthier than binge eating. Food documentaries have had somewhat of an uprising the past few years, much due to the “farm-to-table” movement, a focus on a healthier, more sustainable diet and of course, Netflix. Where else can you find all of your favorite foodie television shows and food documentaries at your fingertips? As soon as you are done watching one program, it magically and immediately recommends three other programs that you “should” watch.
Being in the restaurant industry, I like to watch these films for research, inspiration and simply to stay on top of trends. Personally, I like to watch them as a reminder of why I do what I do and because good food can tell really great stories.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Food Inc. I’ve watched a lot of movies about factory farming, GMOs and the legal nonsense behind how our food is being made. Food Inc. might not be the best movie about these issues, as they are all pretty informational and hard-hitting, but this one is a great start for the curious just starting to make the changes in their homes and restaurants. Why should you watch it? This movie is what your guests are watching. They will start to demand what the creators of this film demanded, knowing the wheres, hows and whats of their food, specifically meat, poultry and produce.
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi This film goes beyond the small, 3 Michelin star restaurant and its chef, Jiro Ono. It’s a great story of his dedication, discipline and knowledge of food, specifically fish. You will have a tremendous amount of respect for Ono and food after seeing this movie. Why should you watch it? This movie will motivate and inspire. While we may not all receive Michelin stars, we can strive for the perfection that Ono demonstrates. One could only wish to hold such a reputation as his.
- Chef Ok, so this isn’t a documentary, but I had to add it. Watch this movie with your family. It’s a great movie that you probably have already seen. I was a bit late in watching this movie, but it’s a movie I could watch over and over again. It’s colorful, funny, exciting and brings us all back to reality after those long shifts. Why should you watch it? This would be a great movie to treat your staff and managers to. It just makes you feel good about an industry that usually drags us by our toes.
- Spinning Plates This movie follows three very different restaurants and their owners and operators. It’s another great movie that reminds us that we’re all cooking with the same ingredients, even though we have different goals, profit margins, table counts and menus. Why should you watch it? It’s an interesting movie to watch and learn how other restaurants of different sizes and caliber operate. Each of these restaurants were struck with some kind of obstacle and we learn how they dealt with it.
I could write this list to include 20+ movies, but I’ll save some for another date. It’s important for us, as operators, consultants and chefs to do some outside research and it’s allowed to be fun sometimes!
Ray Camillo – CEO, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting