Zero Point Zero Production, the film company behind Mind of a Chef and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, is about to release a documentary that takes a deep dive into the world of fermentation. Appropriately titled Fermented and starring chef Edward Lee, the film will premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on Monday, May 29.
Directed by Jonathan Cianfrani, who also works on Mind of a Chef, Fermented runs 67 minutes and attempts to answer a single question: “What is fermentation?” In the film, Lee travels the globe to learn from experts on cultured items such as pickles, cheese, salami, and beer.
In the scene above, Lee visits with Hajime Nakamiche of Wajima No Kaien, the company that makes what is regarded as Japan’s finest sea salt. Nakamiche recreates elements produced by the sun and wind to extract salt from seawater at his facility. Once he has the crystals, it takes a couple of days for bitter flavors to dissipate, and the resulting product is described as clean and sweet. While Wajima No Kaien would be a quality choice for fermenting seafood, Nakamiche doesn’t recommend it for meats and vegetables found on land and in fresh water.
“With food from the ocean, you should use salt from the ocean,” he says in the film. “If not, the kind of lactobacillus bacteria will be different when it’s fermented. The umami component will be different too. However, when you make fermented foods with mountain vegetables or river fish, sometimes it’s better to use rock salt.”
A representative for Zero Point Zero tells Eater the company is weighing offers for screenings at other film festivals, and potential distributors are planning to attend the upcoming screenings in Seattle. Watch the clip for a sneak peek at Fermented.