Cameron Yates’s documentary will frustrate anyone who understands how documentaries are made, or how restaurants work
CHEF FLYNN (Cameron Yates). 83 minutes. Opens Friday (January 25). See listing: Rating: NNN
As a kid in the San Fernando Valley, Flynn McGarry dazzled his parents with complex menus. By the time he was 11, he’d turned their living room into a makeshift fine dining restaurant called Eureka, offering a $160 tasting menu to select diners.
Chef Flynn is a celebration of its subject rather than an inquiry into his specific skills. Director Cameron Yates (The Canal Street Madam) seems content to follow the culinary teen prodigy from one event to the next as he tours the world and plans his big New York opening, filtering out any major conflicts that might distract us from scenes of Flynn obsessing over beet recipes or creating the perfect garnish.
Yates downplays the clear tensions between Flynn and his omnipresent mother, Meg – perhaps because the film relies so heavily on Meg’s camcorder footage of Flynn through the years – and fudges the reason Flynn’s first night in New York is a disaster: the young chef is so intent on plating every dish himself that service falls hours behind.
The result is a doc that probably made the McGarry family very happy. But it’s likely to frustrate anyone who understands how documentaries are made, or how restaurants work.