Thank You, Chef

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Within the first ten minutes of the documentary Pressure Cooker, opening Friday at NWFF, I was a little bit in love with all four of its leading characters: a cranky yet caring high school Culinary Arts teacher and three of her best students, all struggling to escape their working class neighborhood and troublesome families. One is a large and amiable football player, another an extremely bright cheerleader, and the third a melancholy African immigrant. Excelling in the culinary arts class and a subsequent citywide cooking competition is their chance at winning some big scholarship money and thus a ticket out of Philadelphia.

Pressure Cooker is comfort food, nourishing our hopes that inner city public schools are not as bad as they appeared in The Wire, and that smart and ambitious kids everywhere still have a chance to pursue their dreams. Knowing that this story is true, rather than a Hollywood fantasy, makes it pretty tasty.

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