Thanks to Films We Like (Twitter: @filmswelike, Facebook: filmswelike), I had the opportunity to preview Step Up to the Plate (Entre les Bras), a documentary by Director Paul Lacoste, who followed world-renowned French chef Michel Bras, as he prepares to hand the reins of his three-Michelin-starred restaurant in France over to his only child Sébastien, who has worked with him for 15 years.
If you are not familiar with Michel Bras, you may have heard (or seen pictures) of his world famous signature dish, Le Gargouillou. Step Up to the Plate starts with Michel Bras plating Le Gargouillou, an assemblage of 40 to 60 vegetables, herbs, leaves and flowers that reflects the produce of the Aubrac region in southern France and the changing seasons. No leaf or piece of green appears twice in Le Gargouillou. It is a dish that has enormous influence and has served to inspire chefs from all around the world.
Step Up to the Plate follows Sebastien (or Seba as Michel calls him) as he tries to perfect a single dessert, called cheminement or "The Pathway." The dessert includes milk curd, fried bread, milk skin, butternut squash spaghetti, chocolate, Laguiole cheese, blackberry jelly and bread crust. Over the course of the documentary, the dish changes dramatically. While visiting the Japanese branch of his family’s restaurant in Kyoto, Sebastien alters the dessert to incorporate local ingredients such as mochi and substituting bread crust with rice crust. Towards the end of the film, Sebastien presents the dish to his father for a critique as well as to a workshop. Sebastien explains that the dish isn’t simply something to eat anymore. It’s a story, combining ingredients from his childhood with ones from his adulthood.
Step Up to the Plate is full of calm, gorgeous shots of natural scenery and sunrises. I thought it was virtually stunning. Watch the trailer and you will see what I mean.
Step Up to the Plate is a captivating documentary about family relationships, work ethics, and extraordinary cuisine. Scenes with Michel playing with his grandchildren and Sebastien cooking breakfast for his family gives an intimate view into the Bras' close-knit family. When it comes to the kitchen though, Michel and Sebastian don't always see eye to eye. Sebastian thinks his dad is "stubborn as a mule" and Michel is still only comfortable retiring "on paper". However, it is obvious that both Michel and Sebastian have tremendous respect for each other. The documentary looks at food as not just something that we consume, but as something that enriches our lives and our relationships.
Step Up to the Plate will be playing at Tiff Bell Lightbox (@tiff_net) starting December 7th through to December 13th. Click here for showtimes.