King Georges

In keeping with one of the themes of our 2015 Seattle International Film Festival, we have another "cooking" documentary. As written, directed and produced by Erika Frankel, this submission from the United States looks at a French chef who wants to keep his high rating for his world-renowned Philadelphia restaurant. It has been highly regarded for over 40 years but his age is beginning to catch up with him.

We watch:
  • Georges Perrier opened Le Bec-Fin in 1970. Through hard work, a brilliant palate and pit-bull tenacity, he has been highly rated all these years. This has cost him his marriage, his health and much of his peace of mind. (A chef who owns his own restaurant and does his own marketing doesn't get much sleep.) His mother said it's better to be a good chef than a bad doctor (he had wondered about medical school).
  • Nicholas Elmi is Perrier's right-hand man. This doesn't sound like much until you get a sample of Perrier's verbal abuse, his demanding nature and his perverse sense of humor. The staff at Le Bec-Fin has remarkable patience and self-control, particularly on a big night when there is a gas leak and their usual stove is out of commission.
Perrier decompresses after a busy night by sitting in the bar, drinking some wine and eating dinner. He watches the Philadelphia Eagles' football games but how much he actually "gets" is open to debate. He says, "Look! They already scored a touchdown and it's just the second inning!"

Even though this documentary shares Perrier's background and highlights his achievements, I found him to be abrasive, egotistical and cruel. His staff has rationalized that those are the very personality traits that have made him an outstanding restaurateur. This may very well be the case, but I certainly didn't LIKE the guy!

You will find the behind-the-scenes spectacle of a busy kitchen in a highly successful restaurant to be interesting and informative...and add more butter!