Directors James Q. Chan and Santhosh Daniel discuss Bloodline, a documentary about Oakland chef Tu David Phu:
How do you transform what we might see as negative into something positive? The is the question at the heart of the short food documentary Bloodline--a metaphorical, personal exploration by Tu David Phu of his genesis as a chef, as seen through his parents' memories of the Vietnam War and Khmer Rouge, and how US culture often disregards certain seminal life experiences as “scrap,” similar to how the physical bloodline of fish is often thrown away by chefs, even though it carries the animal’s “essence.”
The story, directed by James Q. Chan (Forever, Chinatown) and Santhosh Daniel, is framed around Tu, just as he returns home to Oakland, California after being a contestant on the competitive cooking series, Top Chef (Season 15). As he and his parents prepare a Saturday dinner, drawing on his mother’s self-taught culinary repertoire (which began in a Thai refugee camp), and his father’s ancestry as a free-diver and fishmonger from Phú Quốc, Vietnam, Tu reflects on his visibility as a “celebrity chef,” tracing how he went from refugee roots and a childhood in West Oakland, to this new life by relying on things learned from his family kitchen--rather than the “formal” skills and training learned in culinary school--including how to turn something “inedible,” such as fish bloodline, into a beautiful dish.
Bloodline is the first release of First Kitchen, a documentary food series created by Santhosh Daniel co-executive produced with Tu David Phu and produced with James Q. Chan and Miles Ito, that spotlights ‘everyday people with exceptional stories.’ At the series’ core is a belief that ‘every voice deserves a place at the table’ and a vision to cultivate greater equity and equality in food media. Bloodline is the inaugural project of this vision and a template for cultural inclusivity and creativity the producers envision for all films in the series.