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Renowned chef Grant Achatz at Alinea, his restaurant in Chicago.
Renowned chef Grant Achatz at Alinea, his restaurant in Chicago.

Spinning Plates: Tale of three restaurants is smooth and easily digested Add to ...

  • Directed by Joseph Levy
  • Written by Joseph Levy
  • Starring Grant Achatz, Cindy Breitbach, Mike Breitbach, Francisco Martinez, Gabby Martinez
  • Classification PG
  • Year 2012
  • Country USA
  • Language English

The changing fortunes of three restaurants and their owners are chronicled in Joseph Levy’s Spinning Plates, which is yet another smoothly produced doc for the foodie set.

Yet for all its tantalizing closeups of meals being expertly prepared, Spinning Plates at least attempts to take stock of the bigger picture. By juxtaposing the Michelin-endorsed Chicago hot spot Alinea with two other comparatively modest eateries (a Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Ariz., and a family-run comfort food joint in Ballton, Iowa), the film opens up a multifaceted perspective on a business whose built-in challenges will try even the hardiest entrepreneur.

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When personal drama ensues – as it does in the case of Alinea’s star chef Grant Achatz, who develops a severe medical condition over the course of filming – Levy underplays it; unfortunately, he also forces all three of his stories into the sort of uplifting, crowd-pleasing arcs (complete with relentlessly jaunty music) that reveal less about the state of the restaurant industry than the inherently pandering tone of mainstream documentary filmmaking.

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