Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chef Curtis Duffy's FOR GRACE at NIFF

If you are planning on going to the NIAGARA INTEGRATED FILM FESTIVAL (NIFF) in the Niagara region the weekend of June 18-21 then you must try and go see the documentary "For Grace".  a film by Chicago Tribune Food Writer and Filmmaker Kevin Pang and fellow Chicago filmmaker Mark Helenowski. The story follows Michelin Star Chef Curtis Duffy.

I was lucky to have seen the film at the Hot Docs Film Festival already otherwise I would be seeing it at NIFF for sure but since I have already seen it and thoroughly loved it I can recommend it 100% for you to go and see it.  Even if you aren't a chef or foodie you will still like the film as it's more of story of overcoming hardship and succeeding and surrounding yourself with people that become family.

The story started as a short video and article project about Michelin Star Chef Curtis Duffy for the Chicago Tribune but once they realized it was more than a story about a superstar chef opening a new restaurant they decided to turn it into a feature documentary.

The film starts off similar to one of those restaurant makeover shows.  Chef Duffy is about to leave the restaurant Avenues to open his dream restaurant with his good friend and business partner.
You think you are about to watch a film about the struggles of opening a high end restaurant in Chicago and it is that but then it turns into a whole lot more.  The Chef lost both of his parents in a family tragedy just as he was beginning his culinary journey and a lovely Home Ec teacher took him under her wing and gave him support and guidance and is still in touch with him and was like a mother to him when he didn't have one.  He is newly divorced with 2 young girls at a time in his life when the pressure is on to succeed.  With his fractured family life he pours all of his time and energy into his culinary dream.  He opens his restaurant "For Grace" 9 months later than planned and a year later he receives 3 Michelin stars for the Best New Restaurant in Chicago.

Chef Duffy apprenticed with acclaimed Chef Greg Achatz and the two chefs share similar tragedies to success stories and how to work hard and still be a good person and succeed.  Chef Achatz had a mouth Cancer illness that he survived and he was featured in the documentary "Spinning Plates"

This film had many big guys in the audience shedding a tear at the end of the film.  While it had a bit of food porn it was a whole lot more than a story about food.  It was a story about working hard and overcoming life's difficult situations and how to maintain integrity and life balance in the process.

Chef Duffy's family are the people he spends up to 16 hours a day with everyday at the restaurant but it's his dream and he has sacrificed a lot to achieve his dream.

There is a connection to Toronto with Writer Pang,  who lives in Chicago now but happens to have lived in Scarborough as a kid.

I really enjoyed Chef Duffy's story, his passion and his great heart.

His restaurant serves plates at $700 each and that's why everything must be perfection.  You might not be able to afford to go to his restaurant but you can afford to get a bit of the experience by watching the documentary.

I believe the director and Chef Duffy will be in attendance at the NIFF screening.

Screenings  June 19 & 20  For Tickets

For full details about NIFF

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