Daily Dish
A bowl of linguine and 44 more great pasta recipes
Food
Food

Gift idea: 'Inventing Cuisine' cooking films

Television is awash in food these days, most of it utterly forgettable, at best (I'm still having flashbacks from having accidentally watched five minutes of "The Chew"). Want to see what food on film could really be like? Check out this series of French documentaries. There are nine of them so far, each focusing on a different three-star chef, and they are absolutely splendid — maybe the best food programs that have ever been made.

In fact, to call them "food television" is to miss their point. On these videos there is no shouting, no contrived competition, actually, not even any outsized personalities, despite the fact that the stars are some of the best, most creative chefs on the planet. At their cores, these videos by director Paul Lacoste are 1-hour mediations on creativity and imagination, with food being the common medium. If that sounds lofty and intellectual, well, so be it. But that doesn't mean that the shows aren't also a lot of fun, albeit in a quiet, contemplative way.

Each documentary is different in theme and in tone, varying with the chef. Michel Bras walks the stark landscape around his restaurant in Laguiole commenting on the interplay of light and shadow and suddenly his highly abstract plating comes into focus. Alain Passard contemplates the simple beauty of a roasted onion. Michel Troisgros emerges as an almost tragic figure as he repeatedly tries to reinvent dishes made famous by his pioneering father and uncle. Lacoste visits Italian Nadia Santini (the only non-French chef in the series) starting with an attitude that could be most charitably described as paternalistic (maybe even condescending?), but comes away utterly seduced by the way she coaxes complex flavors from simple, perfect ingredients.


FOR THE RECORD:
Chef documentaries: In the Dec. 8 Food section, a review of the DVD series "Inventing Cuisine" said the director's name is Paul Cotat. It is Paul Lacoste. —


This is what real cooking is about when done on the highest level. Yes, there are recipes, and, yes, there are techniques explained. But what the shows are really about — and what great cooking is really about — is the human element. Anyone can sauté eggplant, given the right set of instructions and a little practice. But the ability to turn that eggplant into art is the province of a very few.

"Inventing Cuisine," La Huit Productions (distributed in the U.S by Allegro Media Group). Available on Amazon.com or direct from the Allegro website, http://www.allegro-music.com. $15 to $20 per video.

— Russ Parsons

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • The Review: Ink, as seen on TV

    The Review: Ink, as seen on TV

    Ink, a new restaurant by 'Top Chef' champion Michael Voltaggio, features cutting-edge cuisine that is exciting and very much the chef's unique vision.

  • The best cookbooks for holiday gifts

    The best cookbooks for holiday gifts

    If you are reading this story, there is a very good chance that someone you know is going to buy you a cookbook this holiday season. There's a good reason for that: You can have too many socks, sweaters, belts and slippers, but no one who has ever set foot in a kitchen has honestly said that he...

  • Ben Simon targets waste with new Imperfect Produce project

    Ben Simon targets waste with new Imperfect Produce project

    About 6 billion pounds of produce is wasted each year in the United States simply because of appearance, according to Ben Simon. As a student at the University of Maryland, Simon co-founded the Food Recovery Network (FRN), the largest student-run waste-prevention movement. He sat down to chat about...

  • Tackling global issues by targeting food waste

    Tackling global issues by targeting food waste

    What's the point of worrying about organic food, genetically modified organisms, locally sourced items and fair trade if more than a third of it will simply go to waste? Discarded food is a serious issue, and it's garnering attention from a variety of places. Statistics are stunning: Approximately...

  • In Europe, little refrigerators hold a grand reason for less waste

    In Europe, little refrigerators hold a grand reason for less waste

    Years ago, when I first started traveling to Europe and was welcomed inside people's homes I was astonished by the extreme simplicity of the kitchens I saw.

  • One hurt as truck crashes into Osteria Mozza restaurant

    One hurt as truck crashes into Osteria Mozza restaurant

    A pickup truck crashed into the front door of the acclaimed Osteria Mozza restaurant on Highland Avenue in Hancock Park on Saturday, leaving one person injured.

Comments
Loading
69°