Chef Jeremiah Tower’s work at Bay Area restaurants Chez Panisse and Stars had a tremendous impact on American gastronomy. As Anthony Bourdain said on the Tonight Show this week: “He almost single handedly created the whole idea that American ingredients attributed to regions of America were something that were desirable rather than dishes with French names.” But Tower’s influence extended beyond just food. By creating a casual, celebratory environment at Stars that was a hit with both celebrities and non-VIPs, he invented the archetype of the culinary hot spot — the kind of buzzy establishments that you might read about on the Eater Heatmap these days.
In this exclusive clip from the Bourdain-produced documentary The Last Magnificent, former Stars staffers and chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali explain how that unique scene came together. The Last Magnificent lands in theaters tomorrow, April 21. The film covers Tower’s rise to fame in the ’70s and ’80s, his self-imposed exile in Mexico during the 2000s, and his reemergence on the culinary scene a few years ago as the chef at Tavern on the Green.
Check out the film’s homepage to see where it’s playing near you, and stay tuned for Eater’s official review later this week.