Soul Kitchen is about relationship. It is centered in a small, junky restaurant (named Soul Kitchen) in a Hamburg suburb. Owner Zinos serves up things like frozen pizza, but that’s what the customers want. When he hires a real chef (stereotypically temperamental) the regulars leave. But other, younger customers start coming for the music and love the new menu. Developers want to buy the restaurant to tear it down for gentrification, but for Zinos this place is special, just because it is his.
The plot involves Illias, Zinos’s conman brother out of prison on work release; Nadine, Zinos’s girlfriend who is leaving to work in China; and the people in the restaurant. Zinos would like to go to China to be with Nadine, but the restaurant needs him. Zinos injures his back and has to rely on others. Along the way relationships develop and change. Some flourish; some come apart. There are those who want to use relationship only for their own gain, and those who see the relationship as something more important than themselves.
What is it that makes up a relationship? In the case of Zinos and Illias, it is the family bond. Zinos is willing to sign a work-release paper saying Illias is working for him, even though he spends his day hanging out and gambling. While Illias seems to be the kind to take and take without giving, through the relationships at Soul Kitchen, he matures.
The relationship between Zinos and his new chef Shayn is more a matter of teacher and student. Shayn is a bit of a vagabond, but before he moves on he mentors Zinos in the kitchen, so that when the time comes for Shayn to leave, Soul Kitchen can continue to serve the kind of food that the new clientele has come to enjoy.
There is a give and take in each relationship. At times they may seem one-sided. But the times when they are weighted toward one person only sets up the time for the balance to shift. The relationships are fluid—not only between two characters, but also in the interaction with other relationships. Old relationships fade out, but they are replaced by new, possibly brighter connections.
Such is the way life usually works. Our relationships are not so much a line drawn between two people as they are a web made up of multiple connections and intersections—some permanent, others less so. These relationships are often what feed our spirits and our souls. From time to time we may visit a place like the Soul Kitchen—and be fed.