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Recommend Some Loud, Interesting Kitchens

Tom Servo Feb 2, 2010 06:11 AM

Greetings all--

I'm a local small-time filmmaker looking to make a "Direct Cinema" influenced short about a local kitchen. To over-simplify, Direct Cinema is basically a documentary of sorts that simply shows events unfolding with out any voice over narration or any kind of formal, talking head interviews. Very fly-on-the-wall stuff.

What I'm looking for is a busy kitchen with an exciting staff to film for a day-- from prep work to clean up. I totally and fully realize, having friends in the industry, that allowing a camera into a kitchen, where space is always at a premium, is going to be a tall order, but I have to try.

I've gotten some suggestions from other people who work in kitchens and restaurants, but thought I'd ask here to: Does anyone have some ideas about a loud, bustling kitchen that might look good on film (err... HD video)? Any exciting chefs with powerful personalities? Any ideas would be greatly helpful-- I'm guessing I'll probably have to have a long list to even get one kitchen to agree...


  1. w
    westside1izzy Feb 5, 2010 08:14 AM

    East Coast Grill for certain. And the food is slammin.

    1. muscles_marinara Feb 3, 2010 04:47 PM

      South street diner at 3am on Saturday would be a nightmare to film, but it's complete mayhem.

      1. Bob Dobalina Feb 3, 2010 11:26 AM

        Don't know about loud and interesting - but had another thought - can't tell you the number of times certain folks have made jokes about sushi chefs along the lines of "what's the big deal? They are just cutting fish. I could do that...yadda..." Might be interesting to help dispel that kind of myth.

        1. c
          cabriac Feb 3, 2010 11:05 AM

          I'm going to say Post 390. This is a big, busy kitchen with a large staff. I assume they have staff in the restaurant from 6 or 7 in the morning until well after midnight. I think a restaurant like this vs some of the smaller options would give you the most flexibility while filming and broadest range of activities to film. From early morning receiving to late night clean - up. While a smaller kitchen will be more romantic the "smallness" of them might actually make it impossible to set up and film. While I never recommend Mistral for anything, in this instance it might make a good choice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cabriac
            Tom Servo Feb 3, 2010 11:26 AM

            Cool-- thanks for the suggestion! The "crew" as it were will be a couple guys with cameras that are mounted with good mics, so there won't be a whole crew or anything-- you know, sound men with boons and large stationary cameras. They make some damn fine HD and 24p cameras these days that are easily manageable for one man field work! You're totally right about a place that starts that early though-- capturing the night porter at the beginning finishing his night as the kitchen staff filter in then ending with that same night porter would be pretty great.

            1. re: Tom Servo
              Chicken with a Capon Feb 3, 2010 02:29 PM

              For the same reasons cabriac listed above, Eastern Standard might be a good choice as well.

          2. digga Feb 2, 2010 04:11 PM

            I love the kitchen counter at Redbones (open, but maybe small enough to focus in on them?). Those guys back there rock in an unpretentious, blue collar kind of way. I bet some of them have interesting stories.

            1 Reply
            1. re: digga
              nasilemak Feb 3, 2010 10:58 AM

              Second the very busy kitchen at Redbones.

            2. yumyum Feb 2, 2010 07:42 AM

              The guys at East Coast Grill are a lot of fun to watch do their thing. Bonus points for lots of swearing and tattoos. They like you even more if you buy them beer, but who doesn't?

              1 Reply
              1. re: yumyum
                phatchris Feb 3, 2010 09:07 AM

                I 2nd ECG

              2. MC Slim JB Feb 2, 2010 07:33 AM

                I don't know if he meets the "exciting personality" standard, but I'm always amazed at what Zamir Kociaj does at Trattoria Toscana, basically serving his entire restaurant from a four-burner cooktop and a small grille, pretty much doing everything except some prep work himself. I'd love to see a few minutes of him handling the Saturday night crush.

                The open-kitchen places with counter seating (Ten Tables, Craigie, O Ya, Myers + Chang, Taberna de Haro, etc.) seem less compelling to me, since any customer could walk in and get that experience just by requesting the right seat. I'm be more curious to see a behind-the scenes at closed-kitchen places: maybe Oleana, Peach Farm (you'd need subtitles, I suspect), Clio, the Soiree Dining Room at UpStairs doing a big tasting menu, perhaps Grill 23, that sort of thing.


                4 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB
                  Tom Servo Feb 2, 2010 07:39 AM

                  I totally agree about the open kitchen vs. closed. I mean, really, the point here is to see an entire night of service from prep to clean from the kitchens point of view, so I think it would work best with the closed kitchen.

                  Also, I don't need a pre-established personality-- In other words, the person doesn't need to be a "name", I'm only looking for a louder, busier kitchen as I think that will show up better in a short film than say a slower or quieter kitchen.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    Bob Dobalina Feb 2, 2010 09:44 AM

                    Good points on open kitchens.

                    In line with the Trattoria Toscana suggestion, how about Highland Kitchen? Isn't that kitchen one of the smallest around? I thought I had heard something about how small it was.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
                      MC Slim JB Feb 2, 2010 10:04 AM

                      It's hard to imagine a tinier kitchen than the one at the Delux Cafe. Also, the kitchen at Garden at The Cellar is impressive for the range and number of different dishes that they serve out of a really small kitchen.


                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                      hotoynoodle Feb 3, 2010 07:24 PM

                      fine dining kitchens, like clio, actually tend to be relatively quiet. (barring the occasional chef tirade, of course, lol.) the servers are not allowed to chit-chat in there, the cooks do not banter and only the chef is talking, by calling out orders and then expediting finished plates to get in the dining room. everybody is focused. the kitchens can also be insanely small.

                      when film crews come they generally are in and out -- there simply isn't space or patience and unless there is serious p.r. factor, not usually worth the hassle.

                      sorry, just my 2 cents as a restaurant lifer, who has spent plenty of time dodging lights and cables .

                    3. Bob Dobalina Feb 2, 2010 07:12 AM

                      Doesn't Craigie on Main have seats right in front of the kitchen?
                      Ten Tables in JP too.
                      No comment on any personalities therein.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bob Dobalina
                        Tom Servo Feb 2, 2010 07:31 AM

                        Ha! I've heard from other cooks that the dude at Craigie can be... animated.

                        The kitchen certainly doesn't have to be open, in face it might complicate things if it is as if I get a lot of customers in the shots, I'll have to get them all to agree to being filmed which can be a pain. I'm not adverse to it, but a closed kitchen would might be easiest.

                      2. Prav Feb 2, 2010 06:15 AM

                        The Daily Catch! (North End)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Prav
                          Tom Servo Feb 2, 2010 06:16 AM

                          Thanks for the suggestion! Why specifically did you recommend this one?

                          1. re: Tom Servo
                            Prav Feb 2, 2010 06:24 AM

                            I ate there last night and forgot how boisterous the "characters" who work in the kitchen are. In a completely charming way! Plus the fact that the kitchen is a completely open corner of the tiny little dining room that is The Daily Catch. :) You see/hear EVERYTHING.

                            Great food served up with some attitude.

                            Definitely may be worth investigating.

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