Review: Restaurant documentary ‘Ants on a Shrimp’ tastes much better than it sounds


If the title “Ants on a Shrimp” evokes the worst picnic ever, guess again. It’s actually a highly involving documentary that tracks René Redzepi, founder and head chef of Copenhagen’s famed Noma eatery, as he and his stellar band of chefs create a temporary world-class restaurant in a Japanese hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo.

Although these food mavens have a huge, high-pressure task at hand — and just a month to prepare for their sold-out, five-week engagement — this observational film favors authentic process and detail over reality TV-like obstacles. Much of this seems due to Redzepi’s precise, warmly demanding persona and the familial atmosphere he fosters with his talented, hyper-dedicated staff.

So it’s “all for one and one for all” as the group painstakingly plans, crafts, tests and perfects a spectacular 14-course menu, relying on unique local ingredients and an infusion of Japanese spirit. To that end, team Redzepi stirringly tours the country to gather an innate understanding of the plants, fish, vegetables and more that they’ll be using in their dazzling dishes.


Director Maurice Dekkers stops far short of shooting “food porn” here, instead deftly capturing the often spare beauty of Redzepi and company’s rarefied concoctions including, yes, ants on a shrimp.

On the flip side, we’re treated to duck plucking, turtle killing and the wonders of fried fish sperm. But, it’s all in a day’s work.


‘Ants on a Shrimp’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD