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.
Be aware that the DVD has no subtitles or captions for those who need them.
If you lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 70's to 90's and dined out or followed the food scene in the press, this documentary is a must see.
It starts with a shocking revelation from Mr. Tower about a childhood experience. It then proceeds chronologically, until about two thirds of the way in, where the storyline becomes shuffled, perhaps in an attempt to make it more interesting.
There are lots of holes in the story, such as what JT did between Chez Panisse and Stars, any personal life he had (was there ever a boyfriend or anything more serious?) and where he went after Stars closed. Also, his attempt to create a Wolfgang Puck style culinary empire, with restaurants around the world, was barely mentioned. When they finally wind back to the closing of Stars, the 1989 Earthquake is blamed. The restaurant remained open for ten more years, so that could not have been the reason. They don't even mention the closing date.
There is much talk of his parents at the start of the film. Once JT graduates from Hahvahd, his family is never mentioned again. Did they ever visit Stars? Did they cut ties with him when they found out he was gay? Did he cut ties with them over money issues? Did they die young and leave him the money he needed to open his own restaurant?
Lots of talking heads and not enough historical footage. They could have done much more with still photos, Herb Caen clippings, and other media articles. Clearly, they started this documentary when JT tried to tackle Tavern On The Green, and there is ample footage of him working in that kitchen.
Unfortunately, Alice Waters is not interviewed. This is unexplained. If she declined to participate, the documentation of her response would have been interesting. If JT insisted that she not be given a chance to tell her side of the story, the viewer should have been informed. Instead, how she feels about JT today is just another hole in the story.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this