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Pressure Cooker: Culinary Arts Bootcamp

(Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, 2008, USA)
Ages 10 and up | FREE!

Stream | Zoom Family Film Festival

A row of people are lined up wearing chef hats.

There’s a force of nature at Philadelphia’s Frankford High School: Wilma Stephenson, a veteran teacher who runs its infamous culinary arts “boot camp” for students. While sometimes blunt and cantankerous, Stephenson cares passionately about getting the best out of her kids.

The inspiring documentary Pressure Cooker captures an entire academic year with Stephenson and her students. At a school where over 40% of the students don’t make it to their senior year, Stephenson shows her students how to achieve her version of the American dream—choose a realistic goal, work hard, work the system, and get out of Northeast Philly.

At the end of the year, culinary students from all over the city compete in a one-day cook-off where top chefs judge the students’ skills and talent. Scholarships are on the line, and success will depend on how dedicated they’ve been over the last year—enduring stressful home lives while still finding the motivation to wake up early enough to master crepes and tournée potatoes. (99 mins., digital video) Closed captioning available.

Parents, if you have any questions about Zoom activities and films or their content, please contact Wexner Center Community, Youth, and Family Programs manager Jean Pitman at jpitman@wexarts.org.

See the complete Zoom: Family Film Festival 2020 lineup.

Zoom 2020 / Pressure Cooker extras!

"A heart-grabbing, awe-inspiring work that needs no embellishment."
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pressure Cooker: Culinary Arts Bootcamp