Instead of focusing one or two particular restaurants or chefs, Hachmeister instead chooses ten Michelin-starred chefs from nine restaurants to try and find the similarities and differences in both style and approach, and what has made each person in the kitchen and in their business one that has stood out from the pack. And while the cuisines and philosophies may differ, one thing is clear -- they all work extraordinarly hard. Being a chef often means being the first person awake and the last one in bed, and for many like Hideki Ishikawa, the day begins early at the market and ends late at night after the last customer has left. And even for guys like Jean-Georges Vongerichten of New York's famed Jean George, even if he's not in the kitchen, he's busy overseeing an empire of restaurants and brands all with goal of maintaining a high level of quality, which is a different art in and of itself.
For Rene Redzepi, who runs Noma in Copenhagen, he serves nothing that isn't strictly local -- that means no imported meats, spices or anything else. What this has forced the chef to do is to become something of a quasi-expert on the vegetation of the country with his dishes standing out simply for the fact that they utilize ingredients that many don't make a regular part of their diet or didn't even know were edible. And being accomplished at a high level, his plates are impressive. And equally noteworthy are Juan Mari and Elena Arzak of Arzak in San Sebastian, who move in the opposite direction, pushing very high-end, avant garde cooking. And then there's the aforementioned Ishikawa whose extraordinarily modest and unassuming restaurant sticks closely to traditional Japanese fare. It's all about the execution and maintaining a consistent high standard that sets these folks apart, but not everyone cares for playing this game.
Hachmesiters's "Three Stars" is a treat, largely because it eschews the standard arc of documentaries. Even though it runs a bit over 90 minutes long, the film is patient and lingers with its subjects and narrative arc, allowing viewers to truly become immersed and appreciative of each of the chefs and their particular goals and aspirations. While the world of haute cuisine (like fashion or film or music) sometimes tends to get drowned out by bigger, emptier names or those with more flash than talent, "Three Stars" is a gentle reminder of the people who are truly interested, fascinated and forever challenged by food, and strive to innovate and reorient our relationship with it. [B]