What To Watch: Pressure Cooker

Hey there foodies and reality show fans!

The next season of Food Network Star airs Sunday, June 2. A lot of my friends are into this show. I’m more of an HGTV Design Star fan, but I definitely see the appeal. You get to watch talented chefs create amazing recipes and even get inspired yourself to get into the kitchen and work your own culinary magic.

May I make a recommendation? Before you see Food Network Star this weekend, set aside some time to watch the documentary Pressure Cooker. This documentary follows 3 high school students as they navigate both the inner city of Philadelphia and the culinary curriculum at their school. Led by their tough teacher, Wilma Stephenson, these kids learn more than the basics- they also learn about discipline, working together as a team and skills that help them (well, anyone) survive beyond the kitchen.

This documentary has everything you would expect from a reality show. It is emotionally engaging- you can not watch this doc and not make a connection with these students. It has drama and it’s own “bad guy”- Ms. Stephenson is equally tough yet nurturing- she knows what it takes to get these students to shine.

But like most reality shows this documentary has the drama of an intense competition. Each student in the culinary program is working toward a city-wide culinary showdown. Stephenson has a winning record and she intends to continue that. But is this year’s class ready to rise to the challenge?

This doc holds a very special place in my heart. When I watched this at the Nashville Film Festival, the audience was as engaged as I was with this film. You will cheer. You may even cry a bit. But you will not forget these kids. Unlike most reality show competitions, these kids are not competing for a shot at fame or for their own shows. They love what they are doing. They want to win not only for their school, but also for themselves. These young minds are reaching for the stars. And as a viewer you will sincerely want them to soar to new heights.

Pressure Cooker is available for instant viewing on Netflix. It is suitable for families to watch. In fact, if I was going to have my own summer film festival for families, this documentary would be on the list.

Watch and enjoy!