Back in 2010, Erika Frankel, who grew up in the suburbs and went on to a career as a filmmaker, heard that Georges Perrier was preparing to sell Le Bec-Fin, his Walnut Street restaurant.
She approached him about chronicling the landmark's final days, through his eyes.
Then the plot thickened. And thickened some more. He withdrew the sale later that year and went back to work. In February 2012, stung by a negative review, he announced the sale of the restaurant, to a onetime manager. Le Bec-Fin was renovated extensively but closed a year later. Its successor did not last long, either.
All the while, Frankel's cameras rolled, following him hither and yon, her microphones picking up the chef at his quiet moments and at his most bellicose. His mentorship of his chef Nicholas Elmi becomes apparent, and to add to the plot, Elmi won Top Chef and opened Laurel, a BYOB on East Passyunk Avenue.
More than just a remarkably presented lion-in-winter story about Perrier, Frankel's documentary King Georges tells about the end of an era of luxe French dining.
King Georges will make its world premiere this April at the 18th Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C., as it hits the festival circuit.
Frankel amassed a trove of archival TV footage and print articles, and got on-camera interviews with chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Eric Ripert, plus longtime associate Eddie Konrad. Ed Rendell; Perrier's daughter, Genevieve; The Inquirer's Craig LaBan (voice only); and I are quoted, too.