This blog is one in a series of Green Lens reviews, considering films from a sustainability perspective.
See my review of “2040,” a film about solving the climate crisis, here.
Synopsis: This multi-layered documentary follows the chef and pasta maker Evan Funke as he survives the closure of his dream restaurant, Bucato, and the opening of a new venture, Felix. Between these two events, the film explores the dying craft of traditional pasta making.
Director: Gabriel “Gab” Taraboulsy, a Canadian “culinary storyteller.” Taraboulsy has contributed to the TV series “The Migrant Kitchen” about immigrants and the food scene in Los Angeles. His work has been nominated for three James Beard awards.
Key Appearances: Interviews with family, investors, and Evan’s teachers in Italy give the film depth, but hand-made pasta (“fatta in casa”) is the star. (Did you know that there are hundreds of pasta shapes? Each has its own history and special function? You can look them up here.)
A mixed bag. Funke respects and is fond of the Italian pasta makers who taught him his craft. And much of the movie is about the survival of community-based, artisan traditions. However, Funke’s history includes verbally aggressive staff treatment, as well as abandonment of two of his teams. Verdict: 1/2 lens
Is hand-made pasta sustainable? It can be, if ingredients are local, and are used in a way that minimizes waste. Italians serve pasta as a “primo” course, served after the antipasto and before the “secondo e contorno” or main course with side. In that lineup, you don’t gorge on mountains of spaghetti the way Americans might. Verdict: 1 lens
The film has one of the best explanations I’ve seen about the challenge of making money from a restaurant. However, the success of the high-end eating is related to the widening gulf between the haves and have-nots. Verdict: 1/2 lens
What Did I Think?
I didn’t necessarily like Evan Funke, but I loved this movie. It was unsparingly personal and it was a love letter to Italian traditions. And it did a great job of telling a complex story. Verdict: 1 lens