Reviews & Interviews

Witch & Popcorn

Review of Cook Off

Bright Blessings, Film Lovers!

I found another African gem of a film, and this one made history as being the first one from Zimbabwe to sign a deal to be shown on Netflix!

Here is the trailer to this magical comedy:



It’s the 2017 film Cook Off directed by Tomas BrickHil and starring Tendainashe Chitma as the brilliant Anesa, whose life seems to be going nowhere. Anesa dropped out of school when she became pregnant with her son, Tapiwa very young, and is a single mom, getting by working for a total scrooge, selling street food in a poor neighborhood. One day, Tapiwa sees Anesa wistfully watching a call on TV for contestants in a prestigious TV cooking competition that is just like Chopped. He tells her to enter, and she refuses because she has absolutely no confidence, and believes she can’t do anything right. She believes she will never have the things she wants.

As a matter of fact, she tells her best friend , “Life is not fair, Charmaine. You go to school, you have to drop out. Next thing you know, you’re selling dollar sadza to five dollar hookers. Maybe god is punishing me for something. I don’t know.”

It doesn’t help that Anesa’s mother complains and criticizes Anesa every chance she gets. Nothing pleases her mom. She disapproves of everything Anesa does, and she tells Anesa’s father that Anesa is nothing but a big disappointment. Anesa and Tapiwa heard this, by the way. They leave her mom and dad’s house broken hearted, as they do every time they leave there after unlimited abuse from Anesa’s mom.

Anesa’s grandma, referred to as Gogo tells her not to listen to mom, as does Charmaine.

Anesa struggles with crippling feelings of inadequacy- and what many fluffy bunnies fondly refer to as “lack of self-love.”Pop culture tells us if we don’t love ourselves, we cannot possibly love anybody else.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. And it is out of love for Tapiwa that Anesa is able to overcome all the odds that are against her, and achieve her dreams.

Tapiwa and Gogo sneak behind Anesa’s back, and enter her in the competition! At first, Anesa balks at the idea, not believing she stands a chance to even make it past the auditions. Her excuse is that she does not have a decent set of knives to use.

Her son immediately hands her brand new chef knives to use. Before Anesa can argue anymore, Gogo says, “ He spent all his pocket money. Believe in yourself!” And her son says “Go for it, mom!”

So, she does!

That’s the magic. The love of her son makes her push herself past her fears, and feelings of inadequacy. She does not yet believe in herself, but for her son’s sake, she tries. At no time does she think she stands a chance. Even though this is her mindset, she still tries no matter what.

Her Gogo even says at one point, “You’re too hard on yourself. We all encounter difficulties, and sometimes, things don’t go exactly the way we had planned. But we have to do the best with the life god has given us. And you do!”

This moment is a turning point. She has listened to her mean boss and her mother tell her she is not good enough for so many years. And to hear somebody tell her that it is okay to do just our best, even if it is not THE best of the best is all she needs to hear to feel worthy.

And Anesa soars.

I am not going to tell you all the good things that happen when she tries her best and discovers how well she can do. I am going to let you find that out for yourself.

This film teaches us the magical truth that even if we are not fully aware of all we are, as long as we are still TRYING and attempting to do our best- it is good enough. And being good enough is the best thing there is sometimes. Years of pain and heartbreak fall away from Anesa as she finally begins to know herself and her potential.

Furthermore, not enough can be said about the healing power of supportive loved ones. Anesa was literally in denial of how amazing she was, and could not even see how many people admired her, and were trying to build her up.

The only person whose approval she wanted was her mother’s. Without mom’s approval, it seemed like nobody approved. This is how Anesa wound up with her mean boss, who was similar in age, similar in appearance, and identical in behavior to her mom. We unintentionally surround ourselves with people who continue the cycle of pain until we learn how to break it.

Near the end of the film, Anesa stands up to her mother in a breakthrough of personal strength, and her mother’s reaction is very surprising.

Have a box of tissues handy, and don’t watch this film without yummy snacks on-hand, because it will make you laugh, cry, and it will make you good and hungry.

Highly recommended.

Happy film viewing.

Blessed Be!


About the Author:

Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.

A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.

Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!

Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.

All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.

She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.

Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!

On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.

She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.

Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].