NEW CHEFS ON THE BLOCK (2017)
Featuring Aaron Silverman, Frank Linn, Michel Richard, Danny Meyer, Mike Isabella, Emily Sprissler and Tim Carman.
Directed by Dustin Harrison-Atlas.
Distributed by Lateral Lines Productions. 96 minutes. Not Rated.
In our food-focused culture, where food-based reality shows have led to entire television networks devoted to the genre, why would you leave the comfort of your home to watch a documentary about chefs on the big screen?
Landmark Theatres’ Ritz Five is hoping that you will do just that on April 4, 2018, 7pm, when they will be showing New Chefs on the Block complete with special appearance and post-screening Q&A with Frank Linn, Sr. – the father of Frank Linn from the film’s highlighted restaurant Frankly…Pizza! (After you watch this film, you will understand why Chef Frank’s dad is the Q&A subject and not the chef himself).
New Chefs on the Block follows Aaron Silverman and Frank Linn through their individual journeys to open two very different restaurants in Washington DC’s challenging restaurant market.
As the film points out, DC is a transient city – the population depends on whether Congress is in or out of session and the clientele for a not-yet-established restaurant can shift quickly. This does not matter so much for Linn’s Kensington, neighborhood-focused, mom-and-pop pizza shop with its initial $85,000 planned start up budget. But it can be the difference between success and failure with Silverman’s higher-end niche restaurant located near Capitol Hill, with its 7 figure start up budget.
I really enjoyed this documentary. The two focused chefs are very engaging, passionate about their dreams, and more passionate about their food. I found myself searching for both Rose’s Luxury (Silverman’s restaurant) and Frankly…Pizza! (Linn’s restaurant) to confirm both were still in existence (spoiler… they are) and to read through their menus.
The story bounces back and forth between both Chefs as they move through similar development timelines. Featured interviews with legendary chefs and restaurateurs are sprinkled throughout, adding experience and contrast to the journeys of Silverman and Linn.
Silverman is focused on not only his food, but the overall dining experience. It was inspiring to hear about his creative ways to keep his staff happy and committed to the restaurants low turnover. We get to see the payoff at an employee retreat where a member of the wait staff brings Silverman to tears saying that it is the best place they had ever worked. I can’t imagine this is an everyday occurrence in the restaurant industry.
Linn is pretty happy-go-lucky. He had an already well-established pizza truck and decided to take a permanent space in the Kensington neighborhood. From day one, the lines were long and thanks to his excellent pizza, the lines continue to grow. Frank takes pride in his dough and is very hands on in his management approach. We see him (and his family) self-renovating the shop, changing a toilet, and individually charring each pizza. Married, we see the strain on his family life reduce when his wife leaves her full-time job to work with Frank in the shop as it remains successful.
Director Dustin Harrison-Atlas spent a lot of camera time showing off Aaron’s innovative creations and Frank’s pizzas – and I have vowed to make it to both in the near future. Warning: Don’t go hungry to New Chefs on the Block. It will only make you hungrier…
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 3, 2018.