(Note: This review was originally published here.)
** (out of 4)
Jake Bickelhaupt, the Chicago-based chef who’s the subject of the new documentary 42 Grams, has a life story that ought to be inspiring. He first discovered his passion for cooking while growing up with his divorced mother in a Wisconsin trailer home. Afterwards, he spent several years working for some of Chicago’s best chefs (including Charlie Trotter, Michael Carlson, and Grant Achatz), but he eventually quit so he could start an “underground” restaurant in his own apartment. In 2014, he and his then-wife (Alexa Welsh) decided to open an actual restaurant, 42 Grams, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood – and in a feat few restaurants have ever matched, it earned two Michelin stars a mere 10 months after its inauguration.
Unfortunately, in the hands of director Jack C. Newell, the remarkable story of Bickelhaupt’s rise proves distinctly underwhelming.