The scene is as follows: in a huge shed, with old wooden floors and glass windows that occupy a large part of one wall, about fifteen tables and chairs – also made of wood, as well as the floor – are set with patched crockery and untied. There is also a bar at the back and in the kitchen next door, a sloppy-looking man takes care of orders coming in from the counter. He throws some pieces of frozen fish in an automatic fryer that barely works and then opens a bag of potatoes that will be fried in the same oil as the fish. The dish is finished with a spoonful of puree and the chef does not delay cleaning the edges with his apron. The waitress arrives, picks up the plate and goes towards the customer. This is Soul Kitchen, a suburban restaurant run by Greek Zinos Katzanzakis (Adam Bousdoukos).
Zinos is a clumsy guy, he does everything in the “that’s what I could do with it” scheme and lives under stress. He takes care of Soul Kitchen on his own even though he doesn’t know how to cook, until he meets chef Shayn Weiss (Birol Ünel), who has just been fired – he refused to heat up a customer’s gazpacho, which is to be served cold, and stuck a knife on the restaurant table. When taking a look at the Soul Kitchen menu, Shayn almost falls behind. He refuses to prepare the meatballs and pizzas and chips that customers order, but proposes to create an exclusive and delicious menu for the restaurant. Food for the soul.
The problem is that no one wants to even try the new menu, and Zinos will have to find a way to bring audiences to Soul Kitchen. All this while he misses his girlfriend (who went to China to work), helps his brother (who just got out of jail), tries to alleviate the unbearable pain in his back (which he won due to a hernia) and, of course, learns cooking! Easy.
To better understand
Fatih Akin, German director of Turkish descent, has been a longtime friend (since school years, more specifically) of actor Adam Bousdoukos and writer Jasmin Ramadan, he, Greek and she, half-Egyptian. Bousdoukos has a restaurant in Hamburg’s Ottensen district, and on a day of heartbreak, friends chat, between mouthfuls of spinach with cheese sauce and other Greek dishes.
The chat, which always comes to a brainstorming when you have three friends from the artistic world, extends and Akin decides to start a script in which the Greek friend is the main character. Bousdoukos had just broken up with his girlfriend and that was the starting point for the director.
As they were already at the restaurant, the story was happening. Well, the result: while the filming of Soul Kitchen was going on, friend Jasmin Ramadan was chosen to write the story of Zinos Katzanzakis in Greece, before going to Germany. The name of the book (it’s the writer’s debut novel) is “The Kitchen of the Soul” – I haven’t read it yet, but if you already do, don’t be shy about commenting down here! – and is considered “the missing piece of the puzzle” by director Fatih Akin. In other words, the two works go together.
By Fatih Akin
with Adam Bousdoukous, Moritz Bleubtrel, Biro Ünel
2009 – Comedy – 1h39
* Special Jury Prize for the film at the Venice Film Festival in September 2009.
WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
In the film, chef Shayn teaches Zinos how to prepare an aphrodisiac white chocolate mousse, made with a very peculiar ingredient: the bark of a Honduran tree. Well, as we are not in Honduras and I think it would be a little difficult to get that peel … I chose to make the recipe simple, just with vanilla. You can sprinkle a little cinnamon on top or even add it to the mousse (just a pinch!), But either way it will be delicious.
- 200g WHITE CHOCOLATE
- 100g MILK CREAM
- 200g of NATA
- 1 tablespoon of VANILLA EXTRACT (or half fava zest)
- 3 CLEAR
- 3 tablespoons of SUGAR
Melt the chocolate and mix with the cream. Reserve. Take the cream very cold and beat with a fouet until the point of whipped cream (it doesn’t look exactly the same; in two minutes you already see the difference – don’t beat too much!). Add the vanilla extract and sugar to the cream, mix a little more and combine with the white chocolate, little by little. Finally, gently incorporate the lightly beaten snow and serve in bowls. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.