Sunday, March 27, 2016

Film Review: KING GEORGES

As an artist, I often wonder what people do with themselves if they don't write or paint or dance or sing or something creative like that. When I am between projects, one thing I do is go to the movies, which I did last night. I saw a wonderful, intense documentary about a famous French chef who owned a restaurant in Philadelphia for forty years. The film is King Georges, the restaurant, now closed, was Le Bec-Fin, and the chef is Georges Perrier. What he did with himself was cook fabulous food.

He did it for a living all day and then he did it some more at home. It was his one true passion, except for his fluffy little dog who stayed with him, unlike his wife who left him because all he did was cook, putting in sixteen-hour days at his restaurant, one assumes six days a week. (It must have been closed sometimes.)

Perrier recognized his gift early on and never wavered. We see many old photos of him growing up in France, and learn that his grandmother asked him for cooking advice when he was just a child! Invited to America by a benefactor, he opened his restaurant and became a huge success, eventually becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world. In his prime Perrier won culinary prizes, appeared on TV and was written up in newspapers and magazines. Interviews with his grown daughter attest to his not having been much of a father all those years, but of course she loves him anyway.

From the opening scene showing Perrier shopping for ingredients at a produce market at the crack of dawn, King Georges takes you inside the heart of this great chef, as well as the kitchen of his fabulous, high-end restaurant. It's crazy in there! There's a lot of cursing and sweating and chopping and tasting. Perrier has continual screaming tantrums (English subtitles help you understand what he's saying) over burnt galettes and just about anything else. There are kitchen disasters like exploding gas burners, with eighty foodaholics in the elegant dining room waiting to be fed. There's also a lot of butter and flour, in case you've wondered why French cooking is so delicious. It seems like every time Perrier walked by a pot of something cooking he threw in a big clump of butter, just because.

Watching the movie makes you really hungry, so eat before you go. But go.

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