Hand Me Downs
A close look at Michel Bras and his son
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in the Bras family.
But, if Paul Lacoste’s new film (which opens in limited theaters tomorrow) is any indication, that is a marvelous thing.
Step Up to the Plate is Lacoste’s second documentary about the Bras clan. The first was part of the filmmaker’s Inventing Cuisine series and featured French master chef Michel Bras at the height of his career. Ten years later, Lacoste’s lens tracks Michel once more, as he prepares to hand over his eponymous, three Michelin star restaurant to his son, Sébastien.
Filmed in France’s southern Aubrac region, the documentary alternates between sweeping views of the landscape and close-ups of Michel and Sébastien’s busy hands.
The narrative begins with a montage of Michel making his most famous dish, the complicated vegetable preparation dubbed le gargouillou. By film’s end, we’ve witnessed Sébastien’s creation of his own signature dish, a feat that signifies his inheritance of the head-chef role. Drawing on memories of a childhood dessert to create the dish, he transforms the arc of the film, revealing that the Bras tradition is as much about family ties as it is about cooking.
At just over an hour run time, the film is a nuanced snapshot--minus the jet lag.