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Writer director Joseph Levy's Spinning Plates focuses on the personal stories of the people who have put their hearts and souls into nurturing their patrons. As the film points out, no matter the type of restaurant, the food and atmosphere reflect the personality of the chef; after all, the restaurant is at the center of the cook's life.
For Grant Achatz, his Chicago restaurant Alinea's is the studio in which he creates his artistic masterpieces consisting of whimsical presentations of award-wining food. Eating at Alinea's is a unique experience that takes diners to the cutting edge of culinary delights. In less than ten years after it first opened it doors in 2005, the restaurant had been named the best in the United States and was ranked 7th in the entire world.
Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa, has been owned and operated by the same family since 1861. Although the official population of the town is less than 100, the staff has been known to serve over 2,000 patrons in a single day. For the Breitbach family, the restaurant is more than a business and more than a family legacy, it's the glue of an entire community.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Martinez family is struggling to get their eight-month-old Mexican restaurant, La Cocina de Gabby, off the ground. The menu consists of traditional recipes that Gabby learned from her mother, and the couple have pinned their future and on the quality of the food and the success of their Tuscon restaurant. Although the bills are piling up and the turnover is slow, they work hard and try to keep a positive outlook.
I can't tell you how much I loved this documentary and how invested I became in the lives of these three families. Although I'll never be able to afford to eat at Alinea's, I admire Achatz's vision and drive. My heart goes out to the Martinezes, and I wish them all the luck in the world. Next time I'm traveling west, though, I'm going to make the effort to stop at Breitbach's; the Midwesterner in me already feels at home there.
Here's a look at the trailer. The movie is available for streaming from several services.