When you think about the long hours and financial hardship it takes to own and operate a successful restaurant, you can't help looking at those who do it and wonder: "Why?"
Sometimes it's because of a true, artistic passion for the culinary arts. Sometimes the alternative is foreclosure. Joseph Levy's documentary Spinning Plates examines the reasons three restaurant owners come back to the kitchen despite life's challenges. The film stars chef Grant Achatz of Michelin three-star restaurant Alinea in Chicago, as well as the owners of a Tuscon Mexican restaurant called Cocina de Gabby.
The movie focuses on Achatz, a molecular gastronomy guy, who's only brought down to earth by his diagnosis of stage-four tongue cancer.
"The great irony," he says in the movie's trailer (above), "the chef with tongue cancer ... If I can't taste, I don't even want to be here."
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On the humbler end of the spectrum falls the story of the 150-year-old Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa. Described by one patron in the movie trailer as "more of a community center than anything," the restaurant is an important part of the small community, but is lost to a fire and struggles to recover.
Lastly, the film looks at the story of Gabby and Francisco Martinez, who operate a roadside Mexican restaurant in Tucson. Due to slow business, the family considers extending their delivery hours until 2 a.m. to avoid losing their home to foreclosure.
Spinning Plates comes to theaters on Friday, November 1, and will be at Harkins Shea 14. View showtimes or buy tickets at the Harkins Shea 14 website.