Back of House
A TV series that intersects at one of the few points where art and fine dining meet.
It is well established that I like things about art and things about food. But, outside of cheesy still lives of fruits in bowls, there is a very small window where these two genres viably intersect. And yet, the library managed to find something that managed to do it.
Back of House is a documentary that features Australian artist Jeff Martin as he travels to the best restaurants around the world, studying where they make the best food in the world. There are six episodes in Season One and Martin spends one night in restaurants like Noma, Momofuku, or the French Laundry (where he was banished to a back office and only allowed to look out the window). After spending the night sketching, Martin makes a single painting of each kitchen.
The series concludes at the annual 50 Best Restaurants in London, where all the chefs that let him into their kitchens will see his work for the first time.
Martin spent part of his working life in the food service industry, so he does his best to stay out of the way and only observe. I thought this series was really interesting. Everybody always wants to talk about the food and how the food is made. Instead, Martin was more interested in the architecture and dynamics of the kitchen staff. His paintings are a little more stylized than I would probably like, but the concept is solid. I especially like when he paints the kitchens from different, angles – like from above or from a staircase.
Completely and utterly fascinating. I will admit that the documentary doesn’t always do the best job showing the actual paintings. But luckily, you can Google them and peruse at your leisure.
This is an interesting look at the world of art and fine dining. If you’re looking for something to kick start your new year, check this one out today!