Best Food Documentary: 'The Heat'

'The Heat' is putting the spotlight on people who are rewriting the restaurant industry's script

If you were to scroll through a list of the most popular food films and documentaries over the past few years, you won't find a lot—if any— titles where a woman is the star (even Chef's Table: Pastry is dominated by male leads). But in her latest project, The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution, filmmaker Maya Gallus is putting the spotlight exclusively on the female chefs who are rewriting the norms of the restaurant industry.

"That shouldn't be radical," Gallus tells The Toronto Star about her all-female cast. "But it is." 

The movie profiles pioneers like Anne-Sophie Pic of three-Michelin-starred Maison Pic in France and Anita Lo of Annisa in NYC, alongside a more recent generation of chefs like Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy. It also goes into detail about why it's so hard for women to get to the top in the first place, such as how much more difficult it is for them to secure funding for large restaurants, which in turn excludes them from media inclusion and, consequently, future opportunities. ("Women are supposed to nurture but we're not supposed to lead," Lo notes of the disparity.) The film additionally takes note of how most people would rather glorify the "drugs, rock and roll and bad behaviour" of male-run kitchens versus a female chef who treats her employees fairly.

"I really wanted to illuminate an aspect of the culinary world that I felt wasn't being highlighted: the role of women chefs," Gallus says. "My intention with this film is that The Heat really does speak to our times, whether it's women in male-dominated kitchens, women in the film, women in engineering, women in tech."