5 Must-See Food Documentaries

This past Friday night was quite a rager at the Smak headquarters. After a busy day at work, I lazily made my way home, stopping only at Whole Foods to pick up a bottle of wine. Shiraz. Walk up the flight of stairs to my apartment. Unlock the door. Lock it behind me. Take off my pants. Grab the bottle opener. Climb into bed. Turn on Netflix.

In preparation for this post, I have been sacrificing my incredible busy social calendar (not) to watch food documentaries in an attempt to compile a list of the five must-see food documentaries. Look no further because after a few bottles of wine and a few packages of Double-Stuf Oreos, I have made my final list. So without further adieu, here is Smak's 5 Must-See Food Documentaries: 

| Spinning Plates |


Easily clinching my number one spot, Spinning Plates follows three different restaurants: Alinea in Chicago, Illinois, Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa, and La Cocina de Gabby in Tucson, Arizona. The contrast between the restaurants is evident, but one thing is blatantly clear: all of these people go through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day they are passionate about what they do. As Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times says, "Spinning Plates is a foodie phantasmagoria and something more. ...an involving look at personal dramas that go well beyond the kitchen.”

| Somm |


The close second goes to Somm, a documentary on what it takes to earn out of the most coveted titles in the wine world - Master Sommelier. Since the beginning on The Court of Master Sommeliers, there have only been 219 people in the world that have earned this prestigious title. I consider myself a wino. But only in the sense that I like drinking wine. I found myself in complete and utter awe as I watched Ian, Brian, Dustin and DLynn navigate through notecards, tastings and exams. What I would give to know even a fraction of what these men know.

| Food Inc. |


And here is where Tommy began questioning his insane and unrequited love for McDonald's. No really, I stumbled across five McDonald's receipts in five different coat pockets yesterday. And I call myself a food blogger? This documentary brings to light America's industrialized food system and the effects it has on the economy, environment and our health. It was not the most settling documentary. At its core, it aims to make you question what you consume day in and day out. While I love to taste of McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, is it really the best thing for me to be eating? No. But what can I do to help educate myself, others around me, and ultimately what can we do as a nation to help change our food system?

| Jiro Dreams of Sushi |


Beautiful, thought-provoking and totally engrossing. Despite the subtitles (which more often than not forces any concentration out of my reach), this film is about more than just food and sushi. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of Jiro Ono, a 90-year old sushi chef. He is arguably the best sushi chef in the world. My absolute favorite quote from the movie came early on as Jiro says, "Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably." Can I get an AMEN?!

| Three Stars |


An incredible look at 10 chefs who are lucky to hold the coveted Three Michelin Stars. The documentary dives into everyday drama in kitchens around the world. If I am being honest, this was the documentary that I found myself looking at the time. While I enjoyed learning about these incredible chefs and kitchens, it felt the most like a traditional documentary. It did not hold my attention as much as I would have liked. That being said, I am extremely glad that I took the time to watch it. The Michelin Guide is something that I do not know that much about.

| Ratatouille |


At the end of the day, I have to admit that the most poignant food documentary that I have ever seen is Ratatouille. The true-to-life portrayal of the Parisian underground mouse chef brethren is raw and visceral. I am not sure I have seen a more honest depiction of the day-to-day happenings of a Paris kitchen. Bravo, Disney, bravo! Who knew that you made such award-worthy documentaries.