Fair Warning: Do not watch this film hungry. For best results, go to your favorite dining spot and follow your meal with this documentary. Even then, you only stand a 50/50 shot of getting away without feeling peckish.

FOODIES casts its eye at the very best places to eat in the world. These are the restaurants that launch a thousand Instagrams; where the world’s top chefs serve eager diners who wait weeks and months for tables, and drop large amounts of cash (plus gratuity).

What especially interests the creators behind this film, more than the cooks and their culinary creations, is a new brand of food critic that have sprung up: Foodies. These are bloggers who go the world over in search of the very best dishes. In recent years their opinion has gained growing amounts of sway, to the point where a good or bad review from them can have huge consequences to the chefs and their livelihood.

The film focuses on five such would-be-critics ranging in status and experience. They are everything from a well-travelled Brit who has dined at every 3-Star establishment in the Michelin Food Guide, to a newbie just trying to earn her stripes and grow her audience.

One of the places where FOODIES excels is in giving its audience a sensory experience. When one of the critics goes to a Japanese dish and her meal is presented, there was an audible gasp in the audience. Every time one of our characters takes their first bite, the soundtrack actually drops to allow a heightened sensory experience. We obviously can’t taste what these diners are tasting, and yet somehow this film finds a way to stir our tastebuds and prompt a similar neural reaction.

Like a chef who knows how to work a large white plate, this is a film that knows when to let the food speak for itself. Perhaps the only sight more wonderful than the food itself is the pure joy that two of the younger critics take in consuming these delightful dishes. When one of them tells us that an especially delicious dinner almost made him want to cry, we believe him…and wonder if we’ve ever been that emotionally stirred by our food.

If there’s one thing about FOODIES that leaves a bad taste in my mouth (pardon the pun), it’s this: When one considers how well-off financially these top food bloggers are, the entire game seems rigged. The film points out that it takes money to do this, and that it’s no stranger spending one’s savings and vacation time on this than, it is to lay on a scenic beach. Fair point. However, there’s a world of difference between savings and time, and former music executives and supermodels.

FOODIES makes one wonder if the bloggers with clout are really the ones with defined palettes and a way with words…or just the ones with the means to get a table.


FOODIES plays at Hot Docs 2015 once more at The Bloor on Friday May 1st – 9pm (official website)