I absolutely love going out to eat and I love high end restaurants but the culture of the world as it exists now is far out of what I fine rational or sane. I mean, the endless list of 50 best this and top 10 that and #1 this etc. is, in a word, ridiculous. I have had great meals at some of these “top seeded” restaurants and some absolute train wrecks as well. I take it all with a grain of salt.
I always approach these type of “chef follow’s movies” with a bit of suspicion (to say the least) as marketing and the agenda of brand expansion always seems to be the motivator. That all being said, I was so pleasantly surprised at this documentary about Noma doing a pop up restaurant in Tokyo. Chef Rene really approaches this project with humility and respect. He and his team grapple with identifying what makes sense to cook in an extension of his home kitchen on the other side of the world. Cutting and pasting what he is known for would be the easiest route (and one taken by many in my opinion) and trying to do a Japanese restaurant would be as he said…stupid. So, what to do, what to do….
The team travels the length and breath of the Japan, they taste and allow themselves to re-learn what they have spent years learning. That moment of complete unknowing and being ok with not knowing is when you become open to new possibilities and perspectives. As so many have said, trust the process. There is great dialog between the team and the film does a good job showing how hard it is to do good food and how context can so impact ones experience. I guess thats why the Las Vegas food scene is such a joke to me-its a complete cut and paste with a context that is a thin plastic veneer.
Having lived and traveled in Japan for many years it was this comment that struck me most about Chef Rene’s depth as a person. It is when he talks about the Japanese kaiseki experience and how that elegant, refined expression of a multi course meal has been derived from the humble act of drinking tea. How is the simple made complex and hence uber impactful-this is wabisabi at its essence. I love the fact that he got that from his time there.
I enjoyed this movie so much that it enters into my coveted list of faves.