Hot Docs 2019 Review: Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy

by Andrew Parker

Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy gives viewers a candid, frank, and comprehensive whirlwind tour through the life and work of one of the world’s most celebrated (and uncompromising) chefs and cookbook authors.

Now in her mid-90s, British born author, environmentalist, and television personality Diana Kennedy continues to keep her love of traditional Mexican cooking alive from her fully sustainable home in the mountains of Michoacán, roughly  one-hundred miles west of Mexico City. After a modest start hosting cookery classes from her New York apartment while she was teaching at Columbia University in the early 1970s, Kennedy became the unlikely face of traditional Mexican cooking. Today, the highly active Kennedy (who still roasts her own coffee beans for thirty minutes every morning in a literal antique before brewing a cuppa joe) remains passionate and unapologetic when it comes to her views on preserving traditional cooking methods to the letter and nurturing the planet for future generations.

With Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, first time feature director Elizabeth Carroll profiles a confident woman who might have more vigor and fire at the age of 95 than she had in her younger years. Diana Kennedy is willing to open up about her life, but she’s never willing to back down or bend when it comes to the matters she holds closest to her heart, which extends to fighting back against presumed plagiarists and ripping into contemporary chefs who can’t follow the sure fire directions she laid out in her bestselling cookbooks and on her television show. Certain chefs and food anthropologists show up to talk about how influential and beloved she is, but in Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, the name in the title always remains the star of the show. One thinks Carroll’s subject wouldn’t have it any other way.

And if you see Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, pay attention to her guacamole recipe. If you make it any other way from that point on, you’ll just hear her voice shouting you down in shame. Make it her way, or don’t make it at all.

Friday, April 26, 2019 – 6:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Saturday, April 27, 2019 – 11:00 am – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 – Part of the Food & Film Series

Thursday, May 2, 2019 – 7:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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