Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist...
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Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist, Jeremiah Tower's career spans the riotous sexual revolution of the 70's to the high rolling "greed-is-good" spirit of the '80s. Key interviews with celebrities & celebrity chefs cement Tower's influence on today's food culture and reveal how he transformed the restaurant industry and in the process changed the way we eat.
Inside look at one of the earliest celebrity chefs
"Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent" (2016 release; 103 min.) i a documentary about the celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower. The documentary opens with a quote of his: "I have to stay away from human, because somehow I am not one myself", as we see Tower walking around historic Mexican ruins. After a brief introduction as to his peak achievements (Chez Panisse in the 70s; Stars in the 80s), we then go back in time as Tower himself narrates and muses about his upbringing (including his complicated relationship with his parents) and how he came to love food and cooking (showing both archival 8mm footage and re-enactments).
Couple of comments: this is the directorial debut from TV personality (and chef himself) Anthony Bourdain. Here he tackles a subject matter that I assume is near and dear to his heart, or at least one that he i thoroughly familiar with. Let me admit upfront that I had never heard of Jeremiah Tower before seeing this (I am not really a foodie). It is quite interesting to see how Tower, with no formal cooking schooling whatsoever) rise in the world of restaurants, eventually becoming a "brand" himself and perhaps one of the first celebrity chefs as we know that term today, "Tower is like a conductor of an orchestra" comments one of the (many) talking heads in the movie. At a certain point, Tower retires from the restaurant business for 15 years (so we are told in the documentary), leaving nary a trail as to what he's up to, only to come out of retirement to become the chef at Tavern on the Green in New York in late 2014. At that point, the movie bring some tension as we don't know how all that will play out (just watch!). I couldn't help but notice that the documentary skips entirely what Tower does in the 90s after Stars and before retiring for 15 years.
"Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (5 people in total, including myself). I enjoyed the documentary for what it was, but must say that it isn't up to the level of various other documentaries that leave you astonished (such as the recent "God Knows Where I am", just to name that one). But if you are a foodie, you will definitely want to check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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