The Mick Jagger of Mexico. The Indiana Jones of food. A legend. Captured here in her mid-90s, Nothing Fancy is about Diana Kennedy’s status and influence, yes, but more than that it’s about the place of food within a country’s culture. She would be fine with that: “What are you gonna do when I’m gone? Who else is gonna start screaming?” Like the way folk music and oral storytelling are passed down across generations, becoming part of a country’s fabric, so too is the food of a country. Kennedy has travelled all of Mexico and has documented countless variations in all its dishes. She’s annoyed by people plagiarising her recipes who haven’t done the research – “I’ve done the research.”

She’s an extremely English woman with a snobbishness for tea and a proper accent, but she’s also “an adoptive daughter of Mexico.” It’s as if her respect for the country’s culture is such that she’s become a part of it. Are there really no dissenting voices, that a white English woman is the final word on Mexican cuisine?

The film effectively shows many sides to Kennedy’s persona. She has a ferocity giving opinions, but framed walking among trees, adoring the nature around her, she’s like an elderly Studio Ghibli character, harmonious and wise. That’s backed up by talking heads from the culinary world showering her with almost mythical praise. Their respect transcends what she’s achieved as an individual, grateful instead for how food is perceived and thought of because of her. It’s gently told, as if in the company of an old relative, who happens to be a radical food anthropologist with a self-sustaining eco-home.

The story of a remarkable life well-lived, Nothing Fancy is a tasteful transitional tale of what Kennedy has achieved and what it means for what she leaves behind.


Available to watch on: Apple TV, Amazon Video, Curzon, Home Cinema, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, Virgin Media Store


DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Carroll

SYNOPSIS: A feature-length documentary offering a candid look into the world of 92-year-old British chef and cookbook author Diana Kennedy, widely regarded as the world’s authority on Mexican cuisine.