Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, July 25:
JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
Hamptons, Mill Valley, Denver, Sedona
A look at the life and career of one of the pioneers of New American Cuisine.
As recounted early in Tenaglia’s oddly compelling but uneven film, Jeremiah Tower was once one of the most influential figures in the culinary world – one of the first true celebrity chefs, whose collaboration with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse put modern American cuisine on the world map. After the closure of his own follow-up restaurant, Stars, however, Tower more or less vanished from the food scene. The early parts of Tenaglia’s profile make too much of this, featuring ponderous pronouncements and overstylized footage of Tower’s wandering around Mexico, before delving into his biography. Unfortunately, this is done with an overuse of re-enactments detailing the chef’s poor little rich boy upbringing – a largely solitary existence spent in the dining rooms of luxury cruises and hotels, ignored by his parents. The re-enactments sadly continue into his young adulthood, as Tower and old friends relate how he came to work at Chez Panisse and form a fruitful partnership with Waters, before the inevitable falling out that seems unresolved to this day. Tenaglia’s project gets a much needed jolt when it moves to the relative present day, in 2014, and it’s revealed that Tower will take over the kitchen of NYC’s Tavern on the Green. From here, Tower’s new post – a thankless one, in the eyes of the culinary elite – shifts the approach of the film to its benefit, chronicling the perfectionist’s attempts at a comeback for both the newly re-opened space and himself.