Funke

Obsession is always an excellent subject for a documentary. The obsessive-compulsive subject who focuses on just one thing, and spends his/her life pursuing the perfection of that one thing. Gabriel Taraboulsy’s Funke is the documentary in question, and his subject’s obsession is pasta.

This food doc, Funke, starts with Chef Evan Funke opening his rather sizeable pasta-making case boasting a wide assortment of pasta-making utensils, stencils, and presses. “I want to create the most comprehensive pasta program in the United States,” says Funke’s voiceover as he demonstrations the creation just a few of the 188 of the 365 known pasta shapes he knows how to make by hand.

Every shape of pasta has a higher purpose than looking “cute.” All pasta finds its foundation in just a few ingredients. Funke seeks to perfect the combination of those ingredients, forming the shape, and then finally the perfect taste. I suppose the best food is made with love from one’s own hands, never from a machine.

“Funke’s friends and family believed in him for a total of $1.27 million, and the lost it all…”

This is a feature from the Tastemade Studios. One of the few successful studios that produced how-to food videos and in-depth international food discussions. They know precisely how a food doc should look. But there has to be a story. Funke takes us down two paths. The first is getting into the mind, method, and philosophy of making pasta. Here we fulfill the classic definition of food porn. Well-known food personalities go on and on about how great and obsessive Funke is, Funke himself then walks us through his kitchen and makes pasta just to show us how great he is, and then the pasta! A visual orgasm of beautifully plated pasta coated lightly with the perfect sauce. Ugh…Eh…Ahhhh…

In contrast to its beauty is the business of food, specifically running a restaurant. Brilliant artists make the worst businessmen. Brilliant chefs want their own restaurants, and eight years ago, Evan opened Bucato in Culver City. Wildly successful high-end restaurant with a mission to perfect pasta. Even with its rave reviews and an endless stream of customers, Bucato was hemorrhaging money and its unclear why. Then one day, without warning, Bucato closed leaving its cooks and servers without a job. Bucato was a short-lived legend. Funke’s friends and family believed in him for a total of $1.27 million, and the lost it all.

“…beautiful food will make you hungry and the restaurant drama will give you an ulcer.”

Jump to today, a Canadian restaurant group is giving Evan a second chance in Venice, California. But opening a restaurant in California, let alone Los Angeles is not like opening a restaurant anywhere in the world. Fraught with extensive amounts of red tape from the city, an aging building, and annoyed neighbors, Funke’s new restaurant Felix is a year behind schedule and millions over-budget. Nothing good is every easy, they say.

Funke is a food doc for foodies. There’s no doubt about that. The contrast between Evan Funke’s brilliant obsession with pasta is juxtaposed against a restaurant space on Abbot Kinney in Venice with skyrocketing expenses that just can’t seem to open. Funke’s beautiful food will make you hungry and the restaurant drama will give you an ulcer.

Funke (2018) Directed by Gabriel Taraboulsy. Featuring Evan Funke. Funke screened at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival.

8 out of 10 stars

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