42 Grams Walks You Through A Chefs Dream
I admittedly watch a lot of movies, horror movies being my favorite genre (which is hilarious because I am, literally, afraid of everything.) I recently diverted from my norm, having had an opportunity to view a screener of 42 Grams, an aesthetically beautiful documentary that chronicles the evolution of Chicago Chef Jake Bickelhaupt.
If you’re not familiar with Chef Bickelhaupt, he and his wife Alexa ran a (gasp, illegal) underground restaurant, Sous Rising, in their home for about a year and a half. They then worked tirelessly to create a fine dining restaurant out of a former fried chicken joint.
Chef Bickelhaupt doesn’t believe in assembly line cooking. Having a person for each dish component is akin to paint by numbers. He shares his disdain for restaurants that boast a big name where you rarely find that Chef on the line creating. His philosphy and drive derived from his stagiaire at Trotters, th main reason he moved from his home state of Wisconsin.
Here’s the thing; for years the PhoenixBites philosophy has been that we don’t speak negatively of restaurants, specifically because we know that it takes everything an individual has to create a restaurant. All their time, money and heart. With this perspective in mind, I was immediately enamored by the name of their restaurant, 42 Grams. The story behind the name is that the human soul is said to weigh 21 grams, making the combination of both Jake and Alexa’s a cumulative 42 grams.
The film invites you to walk along their journey with the couple, bearing witness to the weight of each one of those grams. Over a three-year period, you’ll watch the struggles and triumphs as they pursue the American dream; creating something important to you and others and reaching a level of success dictated not only by society but their own personal markers.
The path your favorite chefs have taken is challenging, heartbreaking, crushing and exhilarating. If you want to have a better understanding of what that looks like, 42 Grams will take you there. I know you’ve all read film reviews where the writer says, “I laughed, I cried…” and rolled your eyes, so I won’t say that. What I will say is that I felt every emotion the film walked me through. I was excited to be a part of the journey and as the process unfolded. I felt myself rolling my eyes with Alexa, feeling frustration with Jake and then elation and then a whole lot of another emotion that I won’t share, so as not to spoil the experience for you.
One of my favorite quotes, and most impacting for me, from Jake is when he said, “Somewhere along the way you lose your identity, or your identity becomes the restaurant. The irony is that when you put your heart and soul into the restaurant, there’s nothing left.”
Jack C. Newell, 42 Gram’s director, homed in on the dream; celebrating the highs and lows of the journey while giving equal screen time to the inspired and envy-inducing dishes created throughout. After speaking with several chefs and restaurateurs throughout the last almost eight years, I feel like I really understand their struggle. More so than I ever have before. He describes the film as a “submarine movie”. He said, “at the beginning you enter into the vessel and just go deeper and deeper and deeper. You’re trapped in this environment with these two people for close to two years. Jake refers to the restaurant, which is in the same building they live in, as a prison. His obsession is another one as well; a prison for both him and his wife.”
You don’t have to take my emotional response to the documentary as gospel, people who do movie reviews for a living are loving the film. 42 Grams has received accolades from Newport Beach Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, Bend Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival among others.
42 Grams is Playing In Phoenix This Month
If you want to check out the film for yourself, it will be playing at FilmBar on January 27th and if you love food, chefs and stories of struggle, strife and success I think you will love it. If you happen to be traveling, there are several theatrical dates throughout the country that you can find along with specific showtimes.
If you’ve ever chased a dream, snatched it out of the air and lived to tell the tale, you’re going to want to check out the trailer and then grab your tickets. I’ll see you there!