Foodie Movie: SPINNING PLATES

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Tim, a loyal reader, suggested I see this doc Spinning Plates by Joseph Levy, a filmmaker, who first delved into the world of professional kitchens while producing Food Network series "Into the Fire" in 2003.

Spinning Plates introduces us to three vastly different restaurants, and shows us three things these establishments have in common - hard work, team effort and really dedicated individuals running these eating establishments - It's not the type of doc that grabs you instantly - having paid to see it, rather than a press screening, made me a little anxious for it to be engaging immediately.  However, each revisit into the inner workings of these dining places, brought more and more interest and familiarity with the characters.


Molecular gastronomy Chef Grant Achatz  runs ALINEA (1723 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL) which has once again been given the top honors as a 3 star Michelin rated restaurant in Chicago for 2014.

Grant doesn't so much cook or create food for Alinea, he masterminds it.  It's all about presentation and aroma and atmosphere.  Behind the scenes at Alinea, far more resembles a laboratory than a kitchen.

You've heard of painters going blind, musicians going deaf, surgeons losing a hand and now here's a chef with tongue cancer, a fact that merely spurred Grant on to greater heights of single minded ambitious and art.


The second restaurant featured is LA COCINA de GABBY, a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Tucson Arizona. Francisco & Gabby Martinez are so cute, not in looks, but together with their 3 year-old daughter, you can't help but be moved by this heart-warming little family. I have never wanted a business to become successful more than I wanted to see La Cocina de Gabby do well.  Gabby has such genuine love for preparing authentic Mexican food and Francisco has such genuine love for his wife and daughter.


The Third restaurant is also a family run establishment, BREITBACH'S COUNTRY DINING (563 Balltown Rd, Sherrill, IA) which has been run by a member of the Breitbach family since it's inception in 1852, presently by Mike & Cindy Breitbach, two of their children and a son-in-law.

What makes this restaurant special is not any one recipe, cuisine or creative force, it's just the fact that the whole town congregates at Breitbach's everyday!  They have regulars, really regulars and regulars so regular they have keys to the place.  Breitbach's served something like 3000 meals on Mother's Day.

The other thing that makes this restaurant noteworthy - It has had two major fires that destroyed the place less than 5 years apart.  Miraculously, each time it was reduced to dust and ashes, the whole town pitched in to rebuild, rather like an Amish barn raising. This restaurant more or less serves as the town square of Balltown Iowa.

Around the Web

Saveur: What was the inspiration for this film?

Joseph Levy: In 2008, I was sitting around deciding what restaurant stories I wanted to produce next when the breakfast issue came out. It opens on two farmers sitting at their breakfast table saying grace, just a quiet mediation on food, followed by a waiter with a breakfast tray, then a men’s group in Germany; an amalgam of snapshots around the world but unified by the idea of breakfast, and it suddenly made the whole world collapse into one space that felt familiar and related. I got the idea of taking my Spinning Plates subjects and ultimately crashing them into each other in the same way the photo essay does in that issue... READ MORE Shane Mitchell Saveur

The Hollywood Reporter asked Levy about his favorite eating Destinations

Levy: "Lunch at Franklin Barbecue in Austin. I'm from Texas, and Texas has the only barbecue for me. Dinner at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. Chocolate Table for dessert at Alinea in Chicago." READ MORE Gary Baum THR

I have to say, in my limited dining travels, the very best meal I've ever had was at Commander's Palace.



T &T's LAMB Score: 3 outta 5

During the Philadelphia Film Festival I screened another foodie film -  (click for post).

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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