The ridiculous challenges on Top Chef may make for fun Wednesday night TV watching, but they do little to expand our knowledge and appreciation for the people who are actually creating our restaurant meals – not racing against the clock to concoct them out of Dr. Pepper and Healthy Choice meals. 

Spinning Plates, a new documentary from director Joseph Levy, takes a more serious (and likely more compelling) look at restaurant life, both in and out of the kitchen. The film makes its Seattle debut at the Varsity Theatre on November 15 and celebrates the labor of love and sense of community behind three seemingly diverse U.S. restaurants: three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, Breitbach's in small-town Iowa, and La Cocina de Gabby in Tucson.

What does Alinea’s molecular gastronomy wunderkind chef Grant Achatz have in common with Francisco Martinez, a poor immigrant patriarch who spends 20 hours a day struggling to keep La Cocina de Gabby afloat? Spinning Plates aims to show there are more parallels than you may think, particularly in the role food plays in connecting people.

Judging from the steady stream of national awards and accolades, we’re thinking this may be this year’s Jiro Dreams of Sushi; keep an eye on the Varsity’s website for when tickets go on sale.

 

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