Can you reccomend documentaries about line cooks or kitchens?
October 24, 2007 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for documentaries about line cooks or restaurant kitchens.

I read "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bordain (truly amazing book), and very much enjoy the Gordon Ramsey shows on Fox. I don't have cable, so no access to the food channel, which blows. I have been looking for "Ramsey's Boiling Point" or the sequel, but with no luck. I think it was only released in the UK. Thanks for your help.
posted by notchristopher to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: recommend* =P
posted by notchristopher at 3:50 PM on October 24, 2007

Definitely check out "I Like Killing Flies," a documentary on the Greenwich Village diner, Shopsin's and its eccentric owner/chef. It wraps restaurant ownership, cooking, small business issues, and philosophy into a a neat package. One of the best docmentaries I've seen in the past few years.
posted by flyingrock at 4:01 PM on October 24, 2007

On review of my own comment, Kenny Shopsin is much better described as a "cook" than a "chef," but his food looks amazingly tasty in the film. You may disagree, but trust me, you need to see I Like Killing Flies.
posted by flyingrock at 4:07 PM on October 24, 2007

Seconded, seconded, seconded. Not as much about food service, but about the eccentric and wonderful minds that seem to in habit so many little diner kitchens.

(says a long-term diner ex-employee)
posted by mr. remy at 4:11 PM on October 24, 2007

You can download the Boiling Point episodes via torrent.
Boiling Point
Beyond Boiling Point

If you don't mind more reading material, I suggest The Making of a Chef and Heat.
posted by junesix at 4:16 PM on October 24, 2007

"American Waitress" is tangentially-related, and very good.

Man, I would so totally want to see a documentary about restaurant kitchens.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:18 PM on October 24, 2007

posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:20 PM on October 24, 2007

You are not missing much on the TV Food Network. There is very little, if any, programming on there about restaurant kitchens or restaurant cooking. Unless you really have a thing for Giada DeLaurentiis and/or Alton Brown, it's not worth your time.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:22 PM on October 24, 2007

Seconding Making of a Chef and Heat. Both very, very good.
posted by cooker girl at 4:59 PM on October 24, 2007

The Australian network SBS showed a great documentary series called Heat in the Kitchen a year or two ago. It followed three chefs in Sydney during the lead-up to the annual Good Food Awards. (Top restaurants are awarded up to three "hats," which are like Michelin stars.) One was a top-name chef working in one of the cities most expensive restaurants, trying to reclaim a hat they'd lost the year before. One was an up-and-coming chef running a lesser-priced restaurant but who was getting rave reviews (and hats). And the last was the cook at a bustling Vietnamese restaurant in the city that was starting to build a good reputation. It was fascinating. Not sure how you'd get a copy now though...
posted by web-goddess at 5:05 PM on October 24, 2007

I Like Killing Flies is quite good but keep in mind that it's a DIY/low-budget film, and some of the camerawork is shaky at times.
posted by kathryn at 5:25 PM on October 24, 2007

and very much enjoy the Gordon Ramsey shows on Fox.

Check out the original Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America, if you can. They are available on DVD.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2007

It's a book and it's kind of old but you really can't be "Down and Out in Paris and London". Incredible descriptions of dungeon like kitchens and the hard life of kitchen workers.
posted by kenzi23 at 6:05 PM on October 24, 2007

I second the recommendation to read Heat. Buford is a great writer (and his book on soccer hooliganism is also quite good).
posted by B-squared at 6:16 PM on October 24, 2007

I have read Heat by Bill Buford. Not a documentary, obviously, but highly recommended. It is the story of the author working in Mario Batali's Babbo kitchen; traveling to Italy to learn pasta making and butchering. Excellent read.
posted by beachhead2 at 6:17 PM on October 24, 2007

Oops. Didn't see Heat was already mentioned. Just consider me to be giving my vote for the book also!
posted by beachhead2 at 6:18 PM on October 24, 2007

Second "Down and Out in Paris and London" - it's by George Orwell, and yeah, it's "kind of old" - it's from 1933. But it's a great account of being the lowest on the kitchen food chain.

And, because it's from the 30's, it's available free on the intertubes.
posted by pdb at 9:24 PM on October 24, 2007

Gordon Ramsay's series of Kitchen Nightmares is good TV. He visits crap restaurants and tries to turn them around. link
posted by roofus at 5:18 AM on October 25, 2007

Mike Ruhlman's trio: The Soul/The Reach/The Making of a Chef are all excellent reading. If you liked Bourdain, Ruhlman is a pal and a contemporary. He's not as wild, but he's got a great insider's view.
posted by GilloD at 5:22 PM on October 25, 2007

I heard a profile of Dorothy Hamilton's 26-part PBS documentary on chefs, Chef's Story. There is a companion book, and the individual episodes (at $19.95 each) are available from the website.

I haven't seen this to recommend it, but it looks like a good fit with what you're looking for.
posted by sagwalla at 2:22 AM on October 26, 2007

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