Reviewed by Alicia Glass
An out of control celebrity chef decides to take revenge on the food critic whose reviews lambasted his dying career!
It’s not easy being any kind of creative person – chef, painter, artist of any stripe – and trying to turn your creative juices into a career. Peter Grey (James LeGros) is a chef with his own tv show that everyone seems to think is past his prime, a little too arrogant and set in his ways, unwilling to bend to what the audience or the studio execs want. After a blowup with his too-perky co-star, the show gets cancelled and Peter gets fired by Gordon (Mario Batali) from his own restaurant. Grey seizes on the scathing reviews JT Franks (Joshua Leonard) has been writing in his food blog, and that’s just the very last straw. Time to take a stand. Franks, after having a terrible I-don’t-care-anymore row with his wife, gets taken by Grey and the life lessons can begin.
It may be hard to be an artist, yes, but it can be equally hard being a critic and reviewer. As Grey explains for part of his life lessons, the two kinds of people in this world, those who give and those who destroy, guess which ones the critics are supposed to be. Still, perhaps Franks does need to be taught something in the way of a lesson about caring about things. Grey starts simple, with the appreciation for water. Then we escalate to something as purportedly simple as cooking an egg to perfection, an idiot can do that right? You might be surprised how difficult that actually is, when the standards of perfection are high. Then it gets a lot harder – cook a steak to a perfect medium rare. In the midst of this we’re learning just how sick Grey really is, how he was mistreated as a child and how, by sheer coincidence, he happens to like to hunt his own meat too. On to the hardest test yet, a test of taste, wherein Franks has to determine by taste which rabbit dish has nightshade for seasoning. But that for an end would actually be far too easy, and in an unfortunately predictable move, Grey picks up Franks’ wife Katherine (Amy Seimetz) for the final showdown.
The pacing is good, there aren’t very many slow moments. The premise is a little overdone, but the actors attack it with a vigor that’s rather refreshing. There is a special kind of madness in the misunderstood artist, whether he (or she) be a giver or a taker, and Bitter Feast serves up this idea hot and steaming and rather bloody.