‘The Restaurateur’ Features the Ever-Growing Culinary Empire of Danny Meyer

Beth Kaiserman

Foodies have always wondered what renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer looks like, acts like, and talks like. But many are too scared or intimidated to find out.


Meyer is a daunting figure in the restaurant industry. After all, despite some setbacks and two-star reviews, his restaurants are some of the most coveted in New York City, and the world.


This documentary follows the progress of opening Tabla (now closed after 13 years) and Eleven Madison Park, recently placed number 5 on the list of best restaurants in the world.


Watching the construction, delays and issues of these two major players in the New York dining scene is thrilling to serious food industry folks. It shows the real story, minus the hype and excess of standard reality TV. The problem is following the saga.


The hour-long documentary doesn’t include dates, so when folks are talking, discussing problems and the like, it’s hard to tell how long they have until opening day. While reality shows dramatically highlight this, a simple flash of the month, year and time until the restaurant is set to open would be helpful in understanding the story.

On a similar note, there are a variety of men (all men, minus one 15-second clip of a female pastry chef at Tabla) involved in Meyer’s enterprise. But it isn’t clear who’s who. When they casually mention “Tom,” I assumed it was Tom Colicchio, but I wasn’t sure at the time. All of the other men, aside from Meyer and Floyd Cardoz, remain nameless, even as they are speaking into the camera. Their role in the process is hard to understand because they aren’t identified.


The documentary begins with a lot of shots of the construction of these restaurants, which is interesting to see, now that Eleven Madison Park has become an ultimate New York staple. But the film lingers on the construction for a long time, with shots of New York randomly placed in between.


More interviews with people’s names and positions written on the screen would be helpful in making the story whole. Also, featuring  more food, and more Floyd, would have helped. Watching Floyd Cardoz make his now famous watermelon curry at home was a pleasure. It would have been great to hear about some of the dishes at Eleven Madison Park.


So, at least through film, Danny Meyer isn’t terrifying at all. But the film gives a glimpse of his vision and his insane goal of opening two huge New York City restaurants within 30 days of each other. A worthwhile watch for any curious fine dining folks.


Author Bio:

Beth Kaiserman is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


Photos: Goodiesfirst (Flickr); Financial Times (Wikipedia Commons).

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