The logical next step to being a totally obsessive foodie? Feeding a hunger for food knowledge … by watching every food documentary and movie we can get our hands on. Here are our top favorite films for some food-consumed (no pun intended) hours of TV-watching that’ll make you hungry for more.
There’s no denying that the creation of high-grade sushi is an art, and this 2011 documentary reinforces that concept even more. Trailing 85-year-old world-renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono, the movie gives viewers a peek into the intensely artful and highly revered world of Tokyo sushi culture.
Photo from MovieBoozer
New York City is famous for its cast of neighborhood characters and quirky business owners—none quite as quirky as restaurateur and cook Kenny Shopsin of Shopsin’s. In this 2004 documentary, director Matt Mahurin explores the inner workings of this family-owned and -operated restaurant, the unconventional personal philosophies of Kenny Shopsin, and the many regular customers who frequent the neighborhood eatery.
Photo from Serious Eats
This beautifully made documentary delves into the idea of the “American restaurant” by looking at three very different establishments and their proprietors, philosophies, and clientele. From Grant Achatz’s Chicago temple to haute cuisine, Alinea; to the 150-year-old Breitbach’s Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa; to La Cocina de Gabby, a struggling Mexican joint in Tucson: The film depicts the massive variety of culinary personalities and their take on “American” cuisine.
Photo from Dig Inn
For anyone interested in the world of sommeliers and wine, this is the documentary to watch. The film follows four sommeliers who are attempting to pass the prestigious and highly advanced Master Sommelier exam, which has an exceedingly low pass rate.
Photo from LA Weekly
5. Food, Inc.
Although this award-winning documentary may not (read: definitely won’t) leave you feeling hungry, it provides comprehensive insight into the abusive and exploitative corporate farming industry in the U.S. by examining the questionable practices of grain and meat production and the strategic food-labeling methods employed by large industrial companies.
Photo from TakePart
British chef Paul Liebrandt is one of New York’s most beloved and visionary chefs—in fact, he was the youngest chef to earn a three-star review from the New York Times (at age 24). This documentary follows him over the course of a decade, from various kitchens and projects to ultimately opening his much-revered restaurant Corton.
Photo from Newport Film
This multiple-award-winning documentary focuses on a culinary arts class in a Northeast Philadelphia high school, run by fierce disciplinarian Wilma Stephenson. With a strict attitude and a lot of mentorship, Stephenson guides underprivileged students into applying for culinary scholarships following high school.
Photo from Flickr
While you probably haven’t given much thought to bees, other than watching them buzz in the springtime or enjoying a spoonful of honey, this yellow and black species is in serious threat of extinction. This 2012 Oscar-nominated Swiss documentary examines honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China, and Australia—trying to uncover the reasons behind colony collapse disorder.
Photo from the New York Times
If you enjoy gourmet chocolate, you’ve probably tried the Mast Brothers’ beautifully wrapped chocolate creations. This artful five-minute documentary traces the relationship between a Dominican cacao bean co-operative and the Brooklyn-based chocolatiers.
Image from Bodega; header image from Somm documentary from Looped
Leah Bhabha is a food writer, event planner, recipe tester, and cookbook author living and working in New York City. In her downtime, she hones her skills as a dumpling connoisseur and chronicles her cooking adventures at One Hungry Pickle.