Vérane Frédiani is an enthusiast, one of those who inspires others to follow them on their wildest impulses. Journalist, film critic at Canal+, distributor and producer with her husband Franck Ribière, she had the desire to make a film about a subject dear to her heart...
...Women and their role in society. Her documentary, which opens in theatres 5 July, is a culmination of her year and half spent researching female chefs. More than an investigation, these powerful and moving encounters create a lively and joyful film made by and for women.
Sophie Cornibert: Why did you choose cooking?
Vérane Frédiani: I was looking for a particularly misogynous milieu. With cooking, I gave women a microphone that they wanted to seize upon. I was convinced that I was going to have a lack of people to interview. But that was not at all the case, I met a lot of women in this setting; I was almost overwhelmed by my subject.
SC: How did you decide which women to cast?
VF: I kept those who, for me, had fought their way to where they are now; those who could motivate others to take up gastronomy and to realise their dreams like Alice Waters and Barbara Lynch, two forces of nature who are examples of those who have given meaning to their lives through cooking. In terms of women, we still sorely lack female role models in cooking and like all human beings, we need examples to inspire us.
It was also important for me to cast a wide net across the world, the film has a real travel aspect. This is why I was really hesitant about France. But it quickly became clear to me that I should keep Anne-Sophie Pic, who has led a very powerful personal journey. After the death of her father, the family restaurant was entrusted to her brother; the restaurant lost its 3rd Michelin star. So she came back from abroad, quitting her studies to take up the torch, and found herself facing all of these men. I have a feeling that her three stars have liberated her. Strangely, it is only now that Anne-Sophie dares to make a mistake.
SC: How did you present them with your subject?
VF: I told them that I wanted to make a film for them, for all women. I wanted to give a positive soul to this project. I wanted to provide ideas for the future, motivation. Incidently, it would being interesting to me to continue to follow this evolution, after this first draft.
SC: Do you believe in the question of gender?
VF: I've come to realize that with our experiences, education, past, we are conditioned to. Our approach to things is obviously different. But I remain convinced that there is no feminine cooking. Adeline Grattard says that her presentations are less like paintings, but rather a mix of ingredients since she is often in a hurry. That says a lot, right?
SC: What is your most moving memory, the most powerful?
VF: My most beautiful moments of emotion during filming were had with Anne-Sophie Pic, as much in trying her dishes — the tastes, the odours, the textures she helped me to discover — as in meeting her. When she saw the finished film, it was her turn to be extremely moved. This women touched me, it's that simple.
SC: What was your biggest surprise?
VF: It is to still see today, young women and men from across the world who make the effort to come to Paris and go to the Cordon Bleu to learn French cuisine — its rationale, its history. And all of them come with the resolve to mix it with their own cuisine and culture. In these classes, all cultures find themselves cooking together. It is gastro-diplomacy and we should cherish these cultural exchanges. They are essential if we want to live together on this planet for a long time to come.
Finally, I want to say that speaking about women is often considered as "not being politically important enough" or " not politically correct enough". It is also for this reason that women are still far too invisible, in all professions. We think that other subjects are more important or take priority. And yet, by increasing the place of women, we could resolve a number of other problems in our society. Diversity is an extremely powerful tool.