The internal organs of fish are not inherently beautiful. but, Jiro dreams of sushi, the camera pans over the eel, sticking a knife where the neck might be, and the sous chef gently gutting it. That shot and the documentary in which it appeared was the beginning of an era. Jiro.
In 2012, David Gelb was a little-known filmmaker and few people outside of Japan had heard of Jiro Ono, the chef at sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. Jiro dreams of sushiis a gorgeous cinematic documentary about Mr. Ono’s lifelong pursuit of sushi excellence, which has greatly influenced the aesthetics of a kind of food documentary in both television and film. From his documentary six seasons ago on Netflix chef’s table — Another Gelb piece — To David Chang’s Hulu streamer Ugly Delicious To Stanley Tucci’s CNN travelogue looking for italyin the post-Jiro In the world, food has taken on a decidedly cinematic brilliance.
original title planet sushisaid Gelb Jiro‘s aesthetic was heavily influenced by nature documentaries like the BBC. earthNo famous narrator JiroHowever earth’A certain style of storytelling emerges Jiro’s An evocative Philip Glass soundtrack, and an attention to the good, the bad, and the ugly of its subject matter: from the chaos of the Tsukiji fish market to the sparkling nigiri at the end, the life cycle of a sushi dinner. emphasizes long, almost sensual shots while the chef slices bright red tuna and massages the octopus until it’s perfectly tender, portraying human behavior in the same way a whale glides gracefully over the ocean. Make it feel organic or instinctive. “We use all the tools of film—sound, music, cinematography—to draw the audience into the character the way we do with other films,” Gelb said. rice field. deadline His perspective in 2019.
Previous JiroFood documentaries tended to take a more direct approach: think of Morgan Spurlock trying to survive by eating only McDonald’s for a month (super size me) and a sermon documentary that exposes the evils of factory farming (Food Co., Ltd.) or praise the virtues of a plant-based diet (forks over knife). Gelb’s film is as extravagant as its subject matter is ascetic, giving viewers sweeping shots of the perfect fish, how Ono’s chef intricately prepares the rice, and of course the stunning final product. looking extravagant. It’s a movie that makes you want to eat.
Jiro We have arrived at a very specific moment in food history. Following the rise of Anthony Bourdain — No reservation Premiered in 2005, layover When parts unknown Continuing in 2011 and 2013 — the world of restaurant obsession has gone from the niche of forums like Chowhound to being fully part of mainstream culture. in another era, Jiro It may have been a minor cult classic, but a moment with an audience wanting more insight into not just where to find the best food in the world, but how it’s made and the people who make it. Arrived at Jiro was a phenomenon at the time of its release. new york times It describes the film’s cinematography as “lush” and “captivating”.
years later, Jiro The Netflix hit inspired all-new food and movie fans to indulge in Gelb’s appearance at the world’s first three-Michelin-starred sushi restaurant. Powered by Netflix Jiro In 2015, Joshua David Stein wrote that streamers like Netflix and its competitors have “wiped out”. [food] of scripted programming at shows like House of Cards on the Sand When Better Call Saul: “In general, as the aesthetics televised become more sophisticated and more cinematic, food is swept into the frame,” he said.Gelb’s next major project in the world of reality and documentary, 2015’s chef’s tablewould look even more mainstream. chef’s tableis Netflix’s first reality series that celebrates food and the people who make it possible around the world. Not a traditional documentary, but what Stein calls an “impressionist character sketch of the chef in question.”
In the first four series, chef’s table It focuses exclusively on chefs such as Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura and Magnus Nilsson who, like Jiro, celebrate the virtues of perfectionism and obsession. Later seasons introduced chefs who may not be Michelin-recognized, but who are making a huge impact on their communities and local esophagus, such as iconic pitmasters Tootsie Tomanez and Rodney Scott. Importantly, both styles of restaurants receive the same aesthetic treatment. In the world of Gelb, every carefully crafted dish deserves stunning cinematography. After establishing his own visuals in various restaurants, Gelb zoomed out and street foodalso a series he created for Netflix, that explores everything from street stall-served Taiwanese goat’s head soup to Texas brisket in equally lavish detail.
Streaming services are now aggressively enriched with shows that mimic Gelb’s style with varying degrees of success.I have Ugly Delicious, adopting the style of similar films to explore the cultural crossovers of curry, crawfish and steak. There are gorgeous shots of pasta being rolled up, Margherita cheese bubbling over his pizza, and CNN’s view of the Amalfi Coast. looking for italyTV version of Samin Nosrat salt, fat, acid, heat A shining example of this new generation of sophisticated and ultra-stylish food documentaries. By treating food preparation like a natural wilderness, Gelb brought a new fascination to the genre and sparked a great deal of interest in cooking as a serious documentary subject for serious filmmakers.
The format has also evolved over the decade. Improvements in camera and film editing techniques have made each dish look more lifelike and more lavishly detailed than ever before. “Nowadays everyone is shooting with high-end cameras and lenses, so that’s a challenge for me,” Gelb told Ringer in 2021. It’s the only place. Beautiful cinematography just can’t cover it. Most importantly, as Gelb suggests, food TV has made at least some effort to include voices of women and people of color that had been largely ignored up to that point.Where Jiro introduced Japanese sushi culture to mainstream America, high on the hog When Taste the Country at Padma Lakshmi We do the same with black barbecue, gala geechee dishes, and other culinary traditions.
Thanks to its dominant influence, Jiro dreams of sushi For the first time in 2022, it may feel a little dated, but that’s not just because of Ono’s policy of serving “older female customers” smaller portions of fish to make the meal go more smoothly. It’s just that many of the following are very similar Jiro.
Lisa Furukawa Freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles.
Disclosure: David Chang has partnered with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media, to produce shows for Hulu. He did not involve Eater staff in the production of these shows and this has no impact on Eater’s coverage.