Step Up to the Plate: A Food Doc With Tension

Step Up to the Plate, despite its punny, baseball-derived title, is about slow ritual: food prep, family traditions, and those of nature, with wonderful shots of landscapes in seasonal change reflecting the generations we meet in the film. Hence, it's not a slam dance of a show-and-tell food doc, nor is it investigative. A sequel to an earlier film about the chef Michel Bras, Step Up to the Plate focuses on his son, Sebastien, about to take over — and attempt to maintain the Michelin three-star rating for their world-famous restaurant in the Aubrac region of Southern France. Sometimes using family photographs and even home-movie-style footage, the film also asks the question of where cooking talent comes from, but Step Up to the Plate is mainly about a son looking for approval. In an ostensibly quiet scene where Sebastien presents a new concoction to Michel, filmmaker Paul Lacoste cleverly uses the enhanced sound of Michel slowly, deliberately chewing and crunching, in what is really the film's climax. While we wait for the father's verdict — it would be a spoiler to say — the tension tops any thriller.


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