True View Reviews
by Liz Lopez
Filmmaker Liz Lachman’s documentary, Susan Feniger. Forked had the World Premiere at the REELING2023: the 41st Chicago LGTBQ+ International Film Festival on September 24, where the film won the Audience Award. It went on to three other festivals and now is making its Texas premiere at the 30th annual Austin Film Festival. Folks in the culinary world, or fans of it through the many televised programs available, will know of the multi-award-winning American chef Susan Feniger. For anyone not as well versed in the industry (or watches the programs), this documentary provides an in-depth look at Susan, the chef, cookbook author, restaurateur, radio and TV personality over four decades. The film was shot and directed by Feniger’s spouse, Liz Lachman.
Susan Feniger has a longtime business partner and co-chef, Mary Sue Milliken, and the film provides extensive details on the opening (on her own) of a Los Angeles global street food restaurant, Street. The details include the location for the new business and all it entails – including the building renovation, which was not anticipated to be as much initially—lots of construction, lots of inspections. There is so much passion and dedication to have the business seen in this film, so it is hard to learn about what happens just a few short years later.
Feniger and Milliken opened their first restaurant, City Cafe, in Los Angeles 1981. It was a successful but small venue. They then opened the Border Grill restaurant and others. Feniger and Milliken have also run the Santa Monica Mexican restaurant Socalo. There is lovely footage and interviews with Milliken and others (Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, and even footage of Julia Child) about the restaurants and chefs throughout, as well as great archival footage. That great footage includes the duo starring on the Food Network show Too Hot Tamales. Feniger also competed on food shows like Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef.
Of the many awards received, the most recent is the Julia Child Award, “honoring an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats, and drinks,” and was inducted into the permanent collection of the Food Exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
Miriam Cutler (Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down) is a three-time Emmy-nominated composer and has created fabulous music for the film and the entire journey of Feniger’s life. I most enjoyed the music on the footage of Feniger’s travels to Vietnam and other countries as she explores the flavors from the chefs and their styles and brings that experience to her creations.
Susan Feniger. Forked will screen again on November 1 at 1:30 p.m. at the Galaxy Theatre. The film is available to Austin Film Festival badge and film pass holders. There are a limited number of single tickets, and for more information, visit austinfilmfestival.com
Source: AFF, Forkedthefilm.com