The restaurant scene in Chicago is ever-changing and Chef Homaro Cantu attempted to revolutionize not just this midwestern city’s dining experience, but the world as well. “Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story” is Brett A. Schwartz’ documentary capturing the genius behind this innovative chef who wanted to solve global issues like world hunger and obesity. Interviewing Cantu and his closest co-workers over a three year period allowed Schwartz to capture the true essence of this cutting edge, forward thinking, and big hearted “Edison of the edible” world.
Moto was Cantu’s dream restaurant located in the Fulton Market area in the West Loop of Chicago. The then up-and-coming area was perviously home to the Chicago meat packing industry. The street is lined with brick buildings, many of which have now been transformed into hip restaurants and wine bars. Moto is just one of the hot restaurants, but the story behind the owner is remarkable and tragic. Schwartz lets us inside the doors of the restaurant and the mind of Cantu to see the treasures discovered, both culinary and scientific.
Schwartz uncovers the painful beginnings of Cantu’s life. Using photos as well as interviews with Cantu, we learn that his distressing start in life would have been understandably enough to lead him down the wrong path. With a drug addict for a mother, he was homeless, regained some “normalcy” by moving in with his alcoholic and abusive father, but thanks to another relative, Cantu found love and stability to finish out his high school education. He was bound for greater things and he knew this. He dreamed big and not for the sake of money or fame. His drive and determination came straight from the heart. He really wanted to make a difference in this world—to help mankind.
As noble as this sounds, reality is sometimes too harsh to allow the noble to proceed. Schwartz follows Cantu’s discoveries of the “miracle berry” which could revolutionize food preparation and consumption. This berry makes any sour or acidic food taste sweet thanks to a natural protein found in the fruit. Finding that this allowed chemotherapy patients to be able to taste their food, Cantu donated his solutions to help tens of thousands of patients begin eating and enjoying life again.
Food preparation and experimentation was at the core of Cantu’s “mad scientist” attitude with the culinary arts. The film captures the visual flavors of the plated foods which will make you salivate. But Cantu’s restaurants were as much about the taste of the food as the experience itself. Presentation of printed edible menus was just one example of his unique artistry. Beyond his restaurants of Moto and inG, Cantu’s focal point was always how he could make the world a better place. He had reinvented himself from where he started in life and was determined to also redesign our food system. Cantu’s non-stop energy and creativity pushed the envelope of not only himself, but those around him to realize their goals and potential.
“Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story” is a delectable delivery of innovation and inspiration. You’ll find that you know and understand that this chef possesses the capability of changing the world for the better. Gorgeously shot with thought-provoking interviews, “Insatiable” will whet your appetite for food and knowledge. It’s a story that will satisfy your hunger for greater things and it just might motivate the next genius to help our world.
“Insatiable” is now playing at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX. For more information about the screening schedule, go to SXSW Schedule.
To listen to the interview with Brett Schwartz, filmmaker, please go to archive.org