June 3, 2019  (Web Review)

Kakehashi: A Portrait of Chef Nobuo Fukuda

(2018) 46 min. DVD: $99: public libraries; $249 w/PPR: colleges & universities. Seventh Art Releasing (www.7thart.com).

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Chef Nobuo Fukuda’s father wanted his son to be a “Kakehashi”—Japanese for bridge or go-between. Filmmaker Andrew Gooi’s heartfelt documentary shows not only Fukuda’s success in combining Japanese cuisine with local American ingredients—becoming a true Kakehashi—but also how Fukuda came to live in America, master English, and evolve into a James Beard award-winning chef. Fukuda here demonstrates his passion for cooking and interest in combining contrasting flavors by presenting six courses that include: Hassun Dish (nine small vegetable dishes), Sashimi Spoons (eight spoon-like bowls containing sea urchin, hamachi, salmon, oyster, mackerel, tuna, octopus, and amberjack), Horo Horo Cho (whole guinea fowl), Wagyu Beef (seasoned beef cooked on a hot rock), and Shabu Shabu (golden eye snapper). Wondrously prepared, each dish is a beautiful work of art, and in between courses Fukuda talks about his life. For the adventurous Fukuda, having to grow up in a strict Japanese family that respected tradition and the old ways was difficult. Attending the World’s Fair in Osaka, he visited the American pavilion, saw the moon rock, and visualized being far away. Moving to Arizona, he got his first job dishwashing and then making sushi. Fukuda loved to ski, and he obtained an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification and joined the Ski Patrol, where he worked for 10 years. After his second marriage, Fukuda started his restaurant business and opened the Teeter Room in Phoenix, where he combined his love and respect for Japanese cuisine with a sampling of fresh local foods. An engaging portrait, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Root)