Now more than ever, the odds of knowing some celebrity chef are high: Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, just to name a few. With channels such as Food Network and shows like Ace of Cakes or Lidia’s Italy, of course it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to hear people talking of some of their favorite chefs and what they made on last night’s episode.
But what about those famous chefs who don’t have shows, yet still are celebrities in themselves? Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent covers just that, the life of a well known and surely controversial chef named Jeremiah Tower, who went on to develop the whole style of “California Cuisine” as well as open his own set of restaurants called Stars in San Francisco.
Tower, a now retired chef enjoying his days on the beach, was heavily influential in cuisine and fine dining, known for winning the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best American Regional Cookbook” for his first cookbook, New American Classics. Ten years later in 1996, he won the Chef of the Year award from the foundation.
He’s had a long past cooking, starting in 1972 at the then unknown Chez Panisse, and leaving in 1978 after working six years to make it the famous restaurant it is today. He opened Coyote Cafe in New Mexico and a number of Southern-themed restaurants all over the nation. He later went on to found more restaurants and retired to live in various parts of the U.S., Italy and Mexico, where he currently scuba dives and swims with sharks. He also recently joined the Tavern on the Green in 2014 in Central Park for a quick six month stint, where he left during its renovation phase.
At the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Anthony Bourdain and Lydia Tenaglia were in attendance along with Tower to discuss the film. Bourdain, the executive producer, has worked with the documentary’s director Tenaglia on a number of projects, including Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and The Mind of a Chef. This is Tenaglia’s second documentary; she co-founded Zero Point Zero Productions, which produced Bourdain’s shows.
Watch our interview with Tower.