If culinary documentaries were rated simply on how good the food looked, “A Chef’s Voyage” would merit a rave review. The displayed cuisine is so inventive and colorful, you may be tempted to jab a fork at the screen. A utensil-rapping might also serve to tap this tedious cooking chronicle to life.
Directed by Rémi Anfosso, the film follows David Kinch of the Los Gatos, Calif., restaurant Manresa as he and his kitchen staff tour France for a series of collaborations. Anfosso intercuts this trip with interviews from after their return. The filmmaker presumably wanted to show them in a more relaxed environment, although Kinch, cooking breakfast at home in Santa Cruz, looks like he just rolled out of bed.
The tour’s organization provides the most interesting details. If some sauces at Manresa take five days to make, the crew will have to get them through customs ready-made. Kinch is hosted by chefs in Provence, Paris and Marseille. The last, Gérald Passedat, speaks so evocatively of fish with slightly burned skin that it almost seems possible to taste it. (That is regrettably not the case for the tantalizing World War I-era wine he has handy.)
But mostly the movie is a drizzle of platitudes. The staff is a team, Kinch says, and “you sacrifice for the team.” Being a guest at a restaurant means respecting your host’s kitchen and your own. Respecting the viewer’s sophistication, apparently, is optional.
A Chef’s Voyage
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.