It’s compare-and-contrast with the agreeable small-plates approach of Joseph Levy’s documentary, “Spinning Plates,” which peeks at the process of three disparate restaurants. Of Chicago interest is Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas at work at Alinea, but there are glimmers of goodness in the other portraits, of Breitbach’s Country Dining, a 150-year-old restaurant in small-town Balltown, Iowa and Tucson family-run Mexican restaurant La Cocina de Gabby. And, as HD-shot documentaries tend these days, it’s often very good-looking. While it’s nice visiting with all these worked-to-the-bone folks, their dedication and commitment, there’s still some mysterious ingredient that seems to be missing. Still, the interlocking stories are nicely constructed for emotional payoff at the end. Plus: there’s food galore, but while good-looking, this is hardly a “foodie” doc. With Thomas Keller, Dave Beran, Annie Breitbach, Cindy Breitbach, Mike Breitbach, Mikey Breitbach, Dennis Hoppenworth, Susan Hoppenworth, Helen Schmitt, Ron Schmitt, Andy Wilwert, Ashley Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Gabby Martinez, Berta Sosa, Norma Sosa, Stephanie Sosa. 92m. (Ray Pride)
“Spinning Plates” opens at Landmark Century Friday, October 25. Achatz and Kokonas are hosting $125 after-parties at Aviary; info at spinningplatesmovie.com, at this link. A clip, “Momentum,” is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.