As a self-proclaimed documentary junkie, I'm fascinated by the sheer volume of foodie documentaries out there for your viewing pleasure. Most recently, I've found myself intrigued by the history of local farming movements and the intense pressure chefs deal with every day. I've rounded up some of my favorite foodie documentaries I've seen to date. Grab some gourmand popcorn and get watching!
A Matter of Taste
This HBO doc takes a look at the life of Paul Liebrandt, a young, talented chef, and his struggles and victories in the restaurant business.
Why We Love It: Liebrandt may have had a slight existential crisis at one point, but he came back to the top with a revitalized perspective. It's a true look at the power of ingenuity and passionate cooking.
Forks Over Knives
I'm definitely not trying to push any vegan agenda with this pick, but Forks Over Knives is a stark examination of the "claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods." It's totally fascinating.
Why We Love It: Forks Over Knives provides firsthand accounts and experiences of people who have had their health redesigned from the power of healthy food.
I Like Killing Flies
In his final year at the location he ran for more than 30 years, Kenny Shopsin, owner and head cook of Shopsin's restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village, was documented by a film crew.
Why We Love It: The 900 recipes the hot-tempered and super quirky Shopsin manages to create in the restaurant's tiny kitchen are nothing short of amazing.
In a working-class Northeast Philly neighborhood, culinary arts teacher Wilma Stephenson has been instrumental in changing the lives of nearly all of the students who take her grueling course.
Why We Love It: Possibly the most inspirational pick on this list. This teacher shows that one person can touch so many lives through her passion for education and food.
El Bulli: Cooking in Process
The El Bulli restaurant, overlooking Cala Montjoi, a bay on Catalonia's Costa Brava, was one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the world. This documentary provides "a rare inside look at some of the world's most innovative and exciting cooking."
Why We Love It: El Bulli is unlike any kitchen you've ever seen; the passion for inventive food literally oozes from the screen. El Bulli closed for renovations in July 2011 but will reopen in 2014 as a creative center.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John
Farmer John is a maverick Midwestern farmer who holds steadfast to his belief in family farms, despite the failing economy and being ousted from his local farming community.
Why We Love It: Farmer John breaks down the stereotypes of what a "farmer" is supposed to look like. This movie is a fascinating biopic of a seemingly normal man who is steadfast in his beliefs and family traditions.
Julia Child! America's Favorite Chef
When Julia Child  first got married, she didn't know anything about cooking. This inspirational lady enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and became the voice of French cooking, translated to the American kitchen.
Why We Love It: It chronicles the life of the audacious and bright Child. Need I say more?
How to Cook Your Life
Edward Espe Brown is a Zen priest and cookbook author who relates his cooking methods to everyday life. The underlying philosophy of his flavors? "Food tastes better when cooking is joyful."
Why We Love It: Beyond the world of restaurateurs and line cooks, How to Cook Your Life takes an Eastern approach to our relationship with food.
Kings of Pastry
The Meilleurs Ouvriers de France is a pastry competition of Olympian proportion. The same guys who brought us docs like Don't Look Back and The War Room bring the same genius to the journey of the world-renowned chefs participating in this competition.
Why We Love It: We didn't know it was possible, but the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France makes Top Chef Just Desserts look like child's play.
For me, this film tops the list. Ingredients is a simple, beautiful film about the local food revolution and the people who are making it happen.
Why We Love It: Instead of just pointing fingers at all of the major issues going on in food production today, Ingredients offers a candid, accessible look at the ways real people are making a difference.