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Merci Bocuse - Documentary Review


Directed by: #MichaelNguyen

Written by: #JoEnaje

Two chefs, Trevor Ritchie and Jenna Reich stand back-to-back against a blue background. The Bocuse d'Or award trophy stands central. Bold white text reads 'Merci Bocuse.'
Poster for Merci Bocuse

A young and ambitious team of chefs face the life-changing challenges of competing in the world's most prestigious culinary competition.

Described by the film’s producer as the Oscars of cooking, the Bocuse d’Or is a high-key competition held every two years in Lyon, France — bringing together the finest chefs from around the globe. Following the candidates of Canada, from humble beginnings all the way to the intense final in Lyon, Merci Bocuse is a fine treat for lovers of cuisine. For those who enjoy food on a more moderate level, there is still enjoyment to be found in this charming documentary.

Merci Bocuse has all the elements of an underdog story. Heart, drama, drive, blood, sweat and tears. It doesn’t try anything new in regards to its traditional structure. Unlike the beautiful platters and food that the candidates work tirelessly over, the documentary is pretty formulaic — but I like to believe there’s a solid reason for this; it works. I’m no stranger to this structure and I actually enjoy it a lot, so I found myself having a pleasant time watching this.

Trevor Ritchie, Jenna Reich and the rest of the team are all very likeable people due to their immense skill and motivated personalities. Covering a jam-packed couple of years, Merci Bocuse shows them in their element and ready to take on the competition. Though overwhelming, with an intense amount of work to be done, they pull through with the wonderful support of their country’s people. With any documentary, there’s always a spot of drama and of course it’s here as well. The pressures of cooking within a limited amount of time with power outages and not being able to fly due to platter issues are a couple examples of situations the Canadian team find themselves in. Filmed and edited to a great standard, these events are well documented and although frustrating for the candidates, it’s one of the main reasons people watch.

A bunch of well selected music from Artlist (a royalty-free library) provides the underscore for much of the duration of the documentary. Editors Jo Enaje and Michael Nguyen (whom also takes the cinematographer credit) collaborate to ensure the candidates’ journeys are captured and displayed in an entertaining and interesting way; thankfully succeeding.

As someone who loves food but can barely cook a decent meal, Merci Bocuse is a great look at the people who can. It’s a thorough dive into the lives of competitive chefs, and the ravishing display of food is enough to make you crave something unique. Merci Bocuse isn’t particularly original in its approach but it’s an appealing and inspirational watch nonetheless.

Watch the trailer for Merci Bocuse below.



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