FOODIES: A Culinary Jetset is not necessarily a comprehensive look at the culture of taste-testers from all around the world wanting the best in what dining is about. A lot of emphasis is placed on fine-dining instead of the everyday. Not everyone can afford to go to Michelin star restaurants and they tend to be concentrated in major metropolises instead of areas of the Pacific Northwest like Seattle. As a catalog of high-end restaurants, I’ve noted what this film suggests as places to go. However, I’d be interested in knowing what I can hit nearby instead of flying elsewhere to get a taste of the best.
Narrator Adrian Moar talks about the lives of Andy Hayler, Katie Keiko, Aiste Miseviciute, Perm Paitayawat and Steven Plotnicki. These individuals go to extremes to taste the best in what these restaurants offer instead of exploring what’s around the corner. As Plotnicki points out, the people who actively travel and blog about it are doing it for status. These people who have high readership on their online journals can have influence upon the establishments who are wanting to keep tabs on them. Soren Ledet of Geranium in Copenhagen, Denmark knows it.
These days, anyone can jump in. For one individual living in Hong Kong, Katie Keiko Tan is still living with her parents and she saves up for months so she can taste the best in what opulence can offer. She’s been to Bo Innovation and Alvin Leung, head chef, is an innovator. People such as him can truly take cuisine to a strange new level (just look up what his version of ‘sex on the beach’ is) and as for whether this fusion cuisine will take off, that remains to be seen. He also experiments with molecular gastronomy. Adventuresome diners will no doubt want to seek Innovation or Bo London out. For truly expensive delights, this film says the restaurants located in Macau, China is the place to go. The Jade Dragon is a two Michelin-starred restaurant that requires mortgaging a house to appreciate all the delights they offer. Apparently, one piece of tiny fungi (Kristoffer Luczak neglected to say what it is) is worth the price of a car. For people wondering where in the world are the best places to go, this film does the job of pointing out some of the best-known places in America, China, Japan and the Netherlands.
A point this documentary misses is the social connection made when heading out to any restaurant. Treatment by the staff, especially when they know the person is a mover in the review industry, is better than normal. Isn’t going in there clandestine better, so the restaurant management do not realize they are being reviewed? Also, dining alone is hardly fun. Dining with friends makes the experience far more memorable. This point is made in the film but it hardly gets emphasized. Being a world-travelling foodie looks like a lonely job. Although Plotnicki invited fellow foodies together to celebrate the launch of his own guidebook of restaurants, was there any connection he made with those people? Are they friends or acquaintances? Not enough time is spent exploring this aspect of social dining.
This documentary does help anyone wanting to get into the scene by knowing what to look for and what to write about when opining. The article has to talk about the presentation of the dish, the quality of ingredients used, the technical skill in how the meal is put together (i.e. is it cooked right?) and how well the different ingredients come together in a dish. Ramen is not ramen just because of the quintessence used, as explored in my review of the Chef of the South Polar. As much as I like to pay for a steak meal at a high-end restaurant, the choice of meat does not boil down to the type of slice used and where from the cow it’s cut from. Instead, it’s in how it gets flavoured in contrast with the meat. The porterhouse is considered the “king” and the rib-eye is a traditional favourite. Ever since I came across a happy accident with giving what I buy at the butcher a dusting of cayenne pepper, I don’t think I need the opinion of a chef in what makes a steak super tasty with the proper type of crust that I truly savour. By cooking at home, I saved myself $35.
Foodies should also know how to cook at home and fashion what they love. That’s a detail this film does not explore. I feel that to truly appreciate great food means knowing how it’s prepared from the ground up.
3 Blokes out of 5