Movie Review-Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent is a documentary about the most famous chef that you've probably never heard of. The movie is a homage, produced lovingly, by executive producer Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain is also featured in the movie along with a host of other great chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batalli, Martha Stewart and more. Each one giving Chef Tower credit for creating "American Cuisine" and for being the first "celebrity chef." Without Jeremiah Tower there would be no Food Network today.
So exactly what did Tower do? He changed the game, and the menu, for American cooking. Back in the 70's the great, upscale restaurants copied the cusine of great Europeon restraurants; importing the ingredients to be served at their local bistro. Working for a Berkley, California restaurant owned by Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, he decided to create a menu using local ingredients. He used local fish, vegetables and, of course, California wines to create a unige style of cooking that almost every other fine restraunt was copying a few years later. The food he prepared was unapologetically American.
However, Chef Tower was not just a cooking perfectionist, he was also an ego maniac which caused him to make a number of enemies along the way. After a few years he and Waters had a falling out and he opened his dream restuarant in San Fransisco called Stars. That is where his legend really took off. He was not only the head chef at Stars he was also the gracious host that everyone wanted to meet. The San Fransisco restaurant was the hot spot for everyone from local politicians to movie stars and drag queens to, of course, the general public. At Stars there was no need for dinner and a show. At Stars dinner was the show!
Cooking is not the only story line in The Last Magnificent. We also learn about the personal life of the great chef. From his childhood, where his drunk but wealthy parents, raised him in fancy hotels and cruise ships (where he started his love affair with food) to the fifteen year sabatical he took at the height of his career.
Foodies will love this film and the profound philoshophies of Chef Tower will give you chills. ("Anything worth doing is worth doing with style.) I loved this film. It's rated R and has a run time of two hours. On my "Hollywood Popcorn Scale" I rate it a JUMBO.