Private Project

God Bless the Cook

Chef Roslyn Spence trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but her biggest critic remains her mother, a 94-year-old self-taught cook for Hollywood’s biggest stars.

  • Zoe Malhotra
  • Annalise Pasztor
  • Soraya Simi
  • Angela Webb-Pigg
  • Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
  • Elisa-Sofia Fioretti
  • Melanie Lim
  • Dashiell King
  • Jack Barnes
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 3, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Zoe Malhotra, Annalise Pasztor

Zoe Malhotra and Annalise Pasztor co-directed God Bless the Cook as their thesis documentary at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.

Zoe is a director, writer, and visual storyteller. She works across mediums ranging from VR to documentary, and her background in production design and art direction informs her strong visual language. She was listed as one of the “Up and Coming Women in Media and Entertainment” in Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can 2018 cohort, and placed second in the Amaze New Filmmakers contest. She loves exploring the human connection to food on-screen and hopes to continue to make inclusive, female-led and impact-driven films.

Annalise is a filmmaker and photographer from Texas and a recent graduate of USC, where she completed a dual degree in film production and anthropology. She’s particularly interested in artistic approaches to examining our political and cultural institutions, with a focus on personal narratives. Her work has been published at the Austin Chronicle and screened at Slamdance, DOCLA, NFFTY, and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

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Director Statement

God Bless The Cook started as a journey into the restaurant industry’s treatment of women. Zoe was interested in how food--an inclusive and traditionally feminine craft--had translated into a cold and discriminatory male-dominated industry. She interviewed local female chefs who seemed to reiterate the same thing: a general frustration with the way women are regarded in this profession but with no clear proposal to end it.

Then, she met Roslyn Spence.

Roslyn recalled similar sexist kitchen stories but spent most of the time detailing a passion for cooking and how that stemmed from her mother. If her mother invigorated such a passion for the craft and introduced such a clear way to involve respect and love in the process, could she inspire others to do the same? After seeing Roslyn and Edith together, it was clear that this mother-daughter pair deserved their own film.

We became captivated by the power of food in defining relationships, culture, and personality. Food wasn’t just sustenance, it was the way Roslyn told us her story. We saw the attention to detail with every delicate flower she painted on a cake, fierce leadership skills while briskly whisking eggs in her classroom, and a devotion to her mother as she cautiously stirred grits.

As daughters, what we saw in Roslyn and Edith felt completely parallel to our own relationships with our mothers--uniquely heightened by their shared profession. Edith is the mother we know all too well: tough and relentlessly criticizing, but out of a place of love and guidance. Roslyn is the daughter we see in ourselves: stubbornly trying to make our own way in the world, but ultimately realizing just how much we owe to those who raised us.