That’s even more so now that I’ve seen the excellent new film Boiling Point, starring Stephen Graham, which is currently in a few niche cinemas and on Amazon Prime.
It’s an adrenaline-marinated single-take shot of one evening in an upmarket restaurant.
This is a neglected genre, since the only other film I can compare it to is Ratatouille, which is way less stressful.
Graham, who plays head chef Andy, berates staff in a scene that made my legs shiver. Spoiler alert: There are also a few repugnant customers, a serious food allergy, an unexpected health inspector and, worse of all, a glamorous reviewer, who declares that “restaurant reviewing is like sex”. Not in my experience, but I’ll order whatever she’s having.
Anyway, her appearance fills the staff with horror. “You should have told us she was coming," says Andy.
That would defeat the purpose. After 15 years of reviewing incognito for The Scotsman Magazine, with The Crusoe Hotel as today’s victim, I don’t think anyone has got in a lather after spotting me lurch through the doors, though one ex chef told me that his kitchen had photos of all the reviewers on the wall.
They’d draw either horns or halos on them, depending on the write up. Apparently, I was in this gallery, but I haven’t found out if I was an angel or a devil.
Even though Boiling Point is a work of fiction, and things are hopefully changing in terms of kitchen culture, I’m very happy to remain tucked behind the fourth wall. That’s especially now, with the additional Covid-related stressors.
Apart from a waiting job, I’ve only helped out in a professional kitchen once, as part of a Kitchen Nightmares-inspired experiential piece I wrote over a decade ago.
The chef gave me a huge box of live langoustines to dispatch and prepare. It was not fun and I soon got tired of the heat and standing about.
Also, I don’t suit white, pinnies, hats or blue plasters.
Thank you Boiling Point for endorsing all my life choices.