'Spinning Plates' Documentary Explores Restaurants | KCUR

'Spinning Plates' Documentary Explores Restaurants

Oct 31, 2013
Originally published on October 31, 2013 4:35 pm

The new foodie documentary “Spinning Plates” takes us inside three extraordinary restaurants and introduces us to the teams that keep them running.

And though the title might suggest the chaos of a busy kitchen, the documentary is warm and gentle, and anything but hectic.

NPR’s Trey Graham has this review.


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NPR movies editor Trey Graham had a look at a new foodie film this week. He says the title might suggest the chaos of a busy kitchen, but the documentary "Spinning Plates" is actually warm, gentle and anything but hectic.

TREY GRAHAM, BYLINE: Food can be art. Food can be passion. But sometimes food is just a numbers game.


CINDY BREITBACH: Easter was as late as it can possibly be, and Mother's Day is as early as it can be. That gives them 14 days apart. When you take a holiday that's 14 days apart, are people going to spend their money both times to go out for the holiday?

GRAHAM: Cindy Breitbach may be fretting about the Mother's Day reservation book, but director Joseph Levy can't keep his camera off the gorgeous pie she is making - raspberries stirred with sugar and ragged, hand-crimped crusts, and Cindy's fingers chunky with dough and dusty with flour, and they're moving a mile a minute while she talks. It's immediate, and it's so personal.

Breitbach's Country Dining is a sixth-generation family place in Iowa, and it's one of three restaurants in "Spinning Plates." On the high end, there's Alinea in Chicago, run by the superstar chef Grant Achatz, who is into food that looks like sculpture or smells like pine trees or anything that might trigger a strong memory for his diners. Way at the other end, there's a scruffy Arizona joint run by Francisco and Gabby Martinez, who hope that her mom's traditional Mexican recipes and the joy Gabby takes in sharing them might be the answer to their economic distress.

In the film, they will all face real challenges - to life, to property, to prosperity - and meet them with varying degrees of success. But in the warm and sentimental world of "Spinning Plates," all three of these places and the people who give everything to keep them going, are proof that a good kitchen, plain or fancy, runs on love. For HERE AND NOW, I'm Trey Graham.

YOUNG: You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.