Pressure Cooker: 5 of 5 stars
The chef barks at the underlings, has fits of temper and rules almost every aspect of their lives. There’s trash talk in the kitchen as everybody competes to win the chef’s favor and learn all the chef can teach.
Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsey has nothing on Wilma Stephenson, Queen of All She Surveys in Pressure Cooker, a very entertaining and uplifting documentary about one Frankford High School teacher and the student chefs she trains to get out of their Philadelphia inner-city neighborhood and take on the world.
She pushes, insults and browbeats (just a bit) her kids. When Tyree, the all-state tackle on the football team, cuts himself slicing vegetables, a teeny, tiny cut, she blurts -- “Don’t cry honey!”
She is black herself and she is determined these kids, who compete in a citywide cook-off every year, will “break the mentality of the McDonald’s palette.” And she’s not just talking about the kids, but the whole school.
This winning film from Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman follows the classic sports “getting ready for the big game” formula (one duplicated in documentaries about dance and crossword puzzles and whistling contests). But you will never whip up an omelet the same way again. Otherwise, Chef Wilma will have words for you.
Screening at: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, Enzian; 1:30 p.m., Friday, April 3, Regal.
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