JEREMIAH TOWER – The Last Magnificent – Documentary Movie Review

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Ok. . . once in awhile our food blog surprises us, as it did back in 2013 when we were invited to do a reality television show (the horror!,) and in 2014 when we were invited to be weekly radio show guests on WSRQ Radio, and most recently when we were asked to do a movie review by the publicity team promoting Lydia Tenaglia and Anthony Bourdain’s film “JEREMIAH TOWER – THE LAST MAGNIFICENT”

Seriously, I’m blushing.  There must be some mistake!  We’re not movie critics, or even food critics (happy to say,)  but thankfully, no one caught on to that before we were sent a private link to the film.  And let me tell you . . . this documentary film is damn right delicious.

Jeremiah Tower

I admit . . . Jeremiah Tower isn’t a name I’m familiar with, but then, I’m not a Chef.  What I did discover, just by watching the trailer for the film, most every notable Chef I’ve heard of knows who Jeremiah Tower is, and without exception credits him to be one of the first “Celebrity Chefs” known across the globe, the Father of Moderan American Cuisine and one of the most innovative artisans to ever step into a kitchen.  He’s also seen to be insufferable, moody and demanding.  Here’s a link to the trailer:

“You have to be a little bit obsessive to be a successful restauranteur, and I was as obsessive as anyone.”  Jeremiah Tower states in the movie.  There’s a scene of him throwing out a dish of sliced limes because they didn’t appear to be as freshly sliced as his guests would demand.  “Inexcusable!”  he states, calmly.  If those limes failed to deliver, the guests, he explained, may not be back.  Yeah . . . that’s obsessive.

Featuring interviews with: Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Ruth Reichl, Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck and many more,
JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT explores the remarkable life of Jeremiah Tower, one of the most controversial and influential figures in the history of American gastronomy.

Anthony Bourdain in Jeremiah Tower – The Last Magnificant

“We should know who changed the world.  We should know their names,” says Anthony Bourdain in the film.  While we recognize the farm-to-table focus on food preparation that’s been popular over the past decade or so, Bourdain, Stewart and many other notable Chefs claim that Jeremiah Tower was the innovator of this concept, back when Tower began his career at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1972, becoming a pioneering figure in the emerging California cuisine movement.

So let me do the math . . . we (as in Mart and myself) have been dialed into the farm to table cuisine since, say 2003, while Jeremiah Tower DEMANDED it in his kitchens back in 1972.  Humbling to think how far behind the times we’ve been.

Jeremiah Tower was known to take risks, expect perfection and an absolute devotion to his customers.  “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing in style,” Jeremiah would say.  No wonder his recipes have been copied and hijacked by those who just couldn’t do what he did naturally.  (Fyi . . . The following two recipes were provided by the publicity team . . . so we’re not stealing!)

After Chez Panisse, Tower went on to launch his own legendary Stars Restaurant in San Francisco, which became an overnight sensation and soon became one of America’s top-grossing U.S. restaurants.  Reservations were taken six months in advance, unheard of at the time, and rare even by today’s standards.

Every night Stars was packed with celebrities, power brokers, politicians, business leaders . . . truly anyone and everyone wanted to dine there.   And then, at the height of his career . . . Jeremiah Tower mysteriously walked away from Stars and disappeared from the culinary scene for nearly two decades.

Let that sink in. Two decades.  240 months. 1,042 weeks.  7,294 days.  Just gone.

Bourdain and Mario Batali recall how everyone asked what became of the Chef who could do no wrong.  Was he alive?  Was he dead?  Myths began to circle about him.  Was he seen in Borneo? The French Riviera? Where was Jeremiah Tower?

How about the single most unlikely of places: New York City’s fabled but often troubled Tavern on the Green. There, Jeremiah Tower launched a journey of self-discovery familiar to anyone who has ever imagined themselves to be an artist.  The decision left Bourdain and others like him banging their heads against the wall asking “Why? Why come back to this, of all places?”

This delicious documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of America’s first celebrity chef, whose brash personality and culinary genius has made him a living legend. Truly, Jeremiah Tower, The Last Magnificent is an inspirational film that professional chefs, restaurateurs, culinary students and people with a passion for exceptional food and those that create it will relate to and enjoy.

Showing at 11:00 am this Saturday and Sunday, June 17th/18th at Lakewood Ranch Cinema’s, get your tickets soon.  (A personal thanks to the theater for scheduling at a time that allows many in the culinary world to attend!)

We’ve provided a link to the box office, as well as the address and phone number for Lakewood Ranch Cinema.

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