SIFF Says:Philadelphia, circa 2010, is about to lose its culinary treasure: Le Bec-Fin, one of the finest French restaurants in the country. The 67-year-old owner, Georges Perrier, nearly as iconic as his landmark eatery, is preparing to sell the restaurant after more than four decades in business. Filmmaker Erika Frankel, a native of the Philly suburbs, asks if she could film Perrier as an era-ending tribute. Perrier, however, has other plans. He decides to withdraw the sale and reinvent Le Bec-Fin by hiring a new protégé, Chef Nicholas Elmi, who achieved national fame on the “Top Chef” TV show. Perrier wants to pass the business to Elmi, but finds he has trouble letting go of the spatula. Over a three-year period, Frankel captures this mercurial, passionate, quixotic force of nature as he struggles to preserve his sumptuous Gallic dishes in an era where casual attitudes and lighter fare are taking hold. Spiced with archival footage and interviews from world-renowned chefs, such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Eric Ripert, KING GEORGES is a feast for the eyes, as well as a touching portrait of a master artist in the twilight of his career who realizes he is still hungry for seconds.
A well-done documentary that captures the essence of the kitchen of a high-end restaurant—the pressure, the relentlessness, the perfectionism. Charismatic chef Georges Perrier yells at his employees, throws food on the floor, and is singularly focused on his restaurant, one of the last holdouts of formal French dining. But the culture of eating out has changed, and you see Perrier wondering if there is still a place for him. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
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