Tendaiishe Chitima, the lead actress in the Zimbabwean film Cook Off, poses for a portrait at her home in Sandton on May 28, 2020. - Cook Off will be available to stream on Netflix on June 1, 2020

Netflix’s Cook Off: everything you need to know about this record-breaking film

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On 1 June 2020, Cook Off landed on Netflix – and made history in the process. Is it any wonder, then, that so many people are talking about the no-budget rom-com over on Twitter

If you’re anything like us, you’ll no doubt find yourself suffering from choice paralysis on a near-daily basis when it comes to picking something to watch on Netflix. After all, the streaming platform drops new film and TV titles almost every single day.

While a handful of these (think Tiger King and Unorthodox) make headlines and thus deemed unmissable, what about the rest? How do you wade through all of that content and pick out the stuff that’s really worth your time? Well, other than reading Stylist’s pick of the platform’s films and TV shows (obviously), by keeping an ear to the ground and a careful eye on social media.

The latest title to gain traction on Twitter is Cook Off, a deliciously fun rom-com filmed on a seriously shoestring budget. 

Why? Well, partly because it’s a sweet story, with incredibly believable and well-rounded characters, but also because it’s made history for becoming the first ever Zimbabwean film to air on Netflix.

Speaking about the film’s record-breaking success, producer Joe Njagu told WKZO: “[This is] a big ‘hello, this is Zimbabwe, we are here’. It’s an opportunity for us to introduce our content to the rest of the world. It’s really a big deal for us.”

He added: “I want the world to know that there is more to Zimbabwe than what they hear. We also fall in love, we also enjoy nice food. And we also have very nice stories.”

With that in mind, then, here’s everything you need to know about Cook Off.

What’s the plot of Netflix’s Cook Off?

As per Netflix’s description, Cook Off tells the tale of a single mother with a passion for cooking. When her son signs her up for a top reality cooking show, she’s initially thrown. Quickly, though, she realises that the TV show is offering her a shot at greatness – and a chance at the better life she’s long been yearning for.

Is there a trailer for Netflix’s Cook Off?

Absolutely. Check it out:

Who stars in Netflix’s Cook Off?

Tendaiishe Chitima,Tendai Nguni, and Jesese Mungoshi lead the cast of Netflix’s Cook Off.

What are people saying about Netflix’s Cook Off?

Cook Off – which was filmed in 2017, just months before the fall of Zimbabwe’s despotic ex-president Robert Mugabe – had a production budget of just $8,000. Indeed, much of it was shot on the set of Zimbabwe’s version of Top Chef, which airs on public broadcaster ZBC.

“We used the costumes, the set, the cooking pots of Battle of the Chefs,” said director Tomas Brickhill, referring to a programme now no longer airing, during an interview with The Guardian.

“Without that, there would not have been any movie.”

Despite these setbacks, though, Cook Off has already won several awards at international film festivals, including in the Netherlands, Durban and United States. And now it seems the rom-com is winning hearts on social media, too.

“Just finished watching Cook Off on Netflix,” tweeted one viewer. “It’s a great movie, phenomenal. I love the concept of seeing a brilliant young lady as she is, not through the lenses of failure as most single mothers are often labeled in our culture.”

Another wrote: “Just watched Cook Off on Netflix. It had everything; a love story complete with unicorns. (By unicorns I mean African parents apologizing to their kids). Standard maZimba loved it.”

Still one more tweeted: “Laughed throughout @CookOffZim. Like y’all. This is a proper representation of zim aunties and all!”

And Into The Badlands actor Chipo Chung has also piled praise upon the film, saying: “Cook Off is a full-fat romantic comedy realised brilliantly and humorously on a tiny budget… I haven’t seen an African film like it.”

When is Cook Off available to stream on Netflix?

As already mentioned, Cook Off is available for streaming from 1 June. Which means that, yeah, you can sink into this warm bubble bath of a romcom tonight, if you so wish.

Find out more about Cook Off, as well as all the other films and TV shows coming to Netflix this June 2020, here.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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