Ants on a Shrimp: Noma Tokyo, the Creation of Fourteen Dishes. 92 min. Maurice Dekkers, dist. by IFC Films, www.ifcfilms.com. 2016. DVD UPC 030306947396. $24.98. COOKING
About halfway through Ants on a Shrimp, a chef informs us that his “job is not to succeed but to fail, every day, over and over.” It’s a fascinating statement of humility in a film following an arguably arrogant dream by renowned Danish chef René Redzepi to open in Tokyo in 2015 a pop-up version of his Copenhagen restaurant Noma. The struggle for his hardworking team is to translate their new Nordic cuisine into a Japanese setting that will respect local ingredients and not simply re-create dishes from home. That leads a core group to visit farms and markets and go tramping in the woods. The menu development process is remarkable and painstaking, the food astonishing (black garlic leather, the roots and egg dish). Redzepi is not always likable, but he is passionate. VERDICT A terrific companion to the recent Noma, My Perfect Storm, providing viewers with thoughts about overcoming adversity even when adversity is self-created.
Sean’s Kitchen with Chef Sean Connolly. 141 min. dist. by Dreamscape Horizon, www.dreamscapeab.com. 2016. DVD UPC 857326006731. $29.99; public performance $199.99. COOKING
What does America—more specifically, New York City—taste like, according to a non-American? This six-episode series, featuring Australian chef Sean Connolly, dances along the surface of that question. In preparation for opening an Adelaide restaurant meant as homage to NYC, Connolly takes viewers along on his trip from Down Under to both refined and homey eateries—featuring tastings of steaks, Jewish deli foods, fried chicken, and more—in search of dishes to reinterpret back home. The episodes track the sometimes bumpy beginnings of the restaurant interspersed with visits to local producers to talk about and cook their foodstuffs. It can make for disjointed viewing, but Connolly’s affable persona binds it together effectively. New Yorkers might quibble with his choices of where to dine and what to try (lobster rolls was an unexpected choice), but it may also make them rethink the things that others appreciate about their city. VERDICT An enjoyable series that focuses smartly on local cuisines a world apart.