Cooking Up a Tribute

This 2015 Seattle International Film Festival entry from Spain has an audacious concept and there were aspects of this documentary that I enjoyed... We watch the Roca brothers in Barcelona who have one of the world's best restaurants. They decide they need a new challenge so they close down their restaurant and take their entire staff to a number of exotic locales, which include Mexico, Peru, Columbia, and Texas...smile...

Their objective is to find new ingredients, new flavors, new traditions and new menu items. They did six months of preparation, taste tests and discussions, then designed 57 new dishes, which included meticulous presentations, plating and descriptions for the highly trained wait staff. They presented the results in each of the cities with a black-tie event. (There were unexpected problems with metric versus American measurements in Texas!)

They would like their business model to be a spark for social change. Each culture is treated with the utmost respect, local products and local experts are involved; they even used inmates from a women's prison on their local staff in one place.

Eventually, after watching endless discussions on the texture of a sauce and similar minutiae, our patience wore thin. We would have liked more interviews with local folks. One fellow described how he prepared ceviche: He cooked grouper (fish) for two hours in lemon; it was inedible, but "it was ceviche!" Another was a tireless promoter of local wines: Any variety that was mentioned would trigger an enthusiastic essay on its history, the dates the Europeans brought it to this hemisphere and how it evolved once it arrived. We liked him!

I would have enjoyed knowing the staff better, too. After all, they left hearth and home to go abroad for their job. As it was, our screening audience felt pretty tepid about this one.