CULINARY PRODIGY

Chef Flynn McGarry shares his adventures in gastronomy and his journey from boy cook to master chef.

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Aired on November 14, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> HE BEGAN COOKING AT AGE 10, FOUNDED A RESTAURANT LEVEL SUPPER CLUB AT HIS L.A. HOME AT AGE 12, SCORED A 'NEW YORK TIMES' MAGAZINE COVER STORY AT 15 AND OPENED HIS OWN RESTAURANT IN MANHATTAN AT 19.

CHEF FLYNN McGARRY IS THE MOZART OF HUB CUISINE AND THE STORY OF HIS IMPROBABLE RISE IN THE AMERICAN CULINARY SCENE IS CAPTURED IN A NEW DOCUMENTARY SIX YEARS IN THE MAKING TITLED APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH 'CHEF FLYNN.'

HERE IS A LOOK.

THE INGREDIENTS ARE LAID OUT BUT WE CAN'T SEEM TO FIND THE CHEF.

HERE HE COMES.

EXCUSE ME.

CHEF FLYNN.

I HAVE FOUR, TWO VIP.

AND GET MY MOTHER OUT OF THE DINING ROOM.

WE HAVE A WRITER FROM 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' COMING.

HE TOLD US YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

NONE OF THE PRESS I'VE ASKED FOR.

AT WHAT AGE DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BECOME A REGULAR CHEF?

I THINK I'M NEARING THAT POINT.

HE WANTS TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

THIS PRESSURE IS PART OF THIS BUSINESS.

I NEED ONE MORE SET OF HANDS.

I NEED HANDS!

HE WANTS THE TOP OF THE GAME AND THAT'S FINE DINING.

♪ ♪

I DON'T THINK ANY OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF I HAD A VERY TRADITIONAL MOM.

THERE IS A HUGE PART OF IT THAT'S LETTING ME DO MY ONLY THING.

AT THAT AT WHAT AGE DO YOU THINK YOU WILL START LOOKING LIKE AN ADULT.

SOME WOULD SAY I WILL BE A BOY FOREVER.

JOINING US NOW ARE THE DIRECTOR AND CINEMA TOLL GRAFR OF CHEF FLYNN CAMERON YATES AND THE CHEF HIMSELF, FLYNN McGARRY.

GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

FLYNN, HOW DID THIS ALL START FOR YOU?

HOW AND WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE THAT THIS WAS GOING TO BE YOUR LIFE?

I MEAN, I DON'T THINK IT WAS EVER SORT OF LIKE A CONSCIOUS LIKE THIS IS GOING TO BE WHAT I'M -- WHAT MY LIFE IS.

I MEAN, I STARTED COOKING WHEN I WAS TEN AND SORT OF MY PARENTS GOT A DIVORCE, MY MOM DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO COOK AND SO SORT OF THOUGHT THAT I WOULD JUST KIND OF VERY CASUALLY JUST KIND OF TAKE IT ON, AND THEN SORT OF REALLY QUICKLY REALIZED THAT THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT KIND OF FOOD AND COOKING THAT I WAS REALLY KIND OF ENTHRALLED BY AND SO I JUST SORT OF SPENT ALL OF MY TIME LEARNING EVERYTHING THAT I COULD AND THEN STARTED WORKING IN RESTAURANTS AND, I MEAN, YEAH, IT WAS SORT OF ALWAYS JUST LIKE KIND OF WENT WITH THIS THING OF LIKE I WAS ENJOYING IT AND THERE WAS ALWAYS A GRADUAL NEXT STEP TO GO TOWARDS.

SO IT NEVER WAS REALLY ME BEING LIKE I'M GOING TO BE A CHEF FOR A RESTAURANT AND ALL THIS STUFF, IT KIND OF JUST HAPPENED REALLY NATURALLY.

CAMERON, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, YOU SPENT SIX YEARS MAKING THIS FILM.

THAT'S A BIG INVESTMENT FOR ONE FILM.

WHY DID YOU DO THAT?

YEAH, I MEAN, I TEND TO -- I WORK ON THESE LONG-TERM DOCUMENTARIES.

I REALLY -- I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH YOUR SUBJECTS AND GET TO KNOW THEM OVER THE COURSE OF YEARS.

I WAS EXCITED TO TELL FLYNN'S STORY AS HE WAS GROWING UP AND BECOMING A CHEF AND I WAS ALSO EXCITED BECAUSE HIS MOTHER HAD SHOT ALL THIS INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE SINCE HE WAS A BABY AND I WAS EXCITED, YOU KNOW, THE FACT THAT WE COULD USE THIS TO TELL THE ENTIRE STORY, SORT OF A DECADE IN THE LIFE OF THIS BOYHOOD OF HIM GROWING UP, THAT'S WHAT REALLY DREW ME TO THE PROJECT.

THERE IS A LOT OF THAT.

HOW DID YOU -- FIRST OF ALL, HOW DID YOU HOOK UP WITH THIS STORY?

I READ A SHORT ARTICLE ABOUT HIM WHEN HE WAS SORT OF EMERGING AND I CONTACTED HIM AND HIS MOTHER AND WE MET UP IN L.A. FOR LUNCH, ACTUALLY, FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THAT'S WHEN WE STARTED TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER.

SO, TLIN, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, WHEN YOU WERE 15 YEARS OLD YOU WERE ON THE COVER OF 'NEW YORK TIMES' MAGAZINE, ONE OF THEIR FOOD ISSUES.

IT'S IN THE FILM, ALSO IN THE FILM IS THE INCREDIBLY NEGATIVE, DOWN RIGHT NASTY BLOW BACK YOU GOT ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE OF THAT.

WHY?

I MEAN, I DON'T TRULY KNOW WHY BECAUSE I WOULDN'T DO THAT.

SOME PEOPLE DIDN'T LIKE IT AND THOUGHT THAT OTHERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THERE.

I THINK YOU WERE IN A TED TALK OR SOMETHING LIKE A TED TALK WHERE YOU MENTIONED THE FACT THAT YOU UPSET PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU KIND OF SHATTERED THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF BECOMING A CHEF, RIGHT?

I MEAN, THE TEN OR 20 YEARS WHERE YOU ARE HEAD DOWN UNTIL YOU BECOME A CHEF, YOU WERE DOING ON THE INTERNET, YOU WERE DOING THE POP UPS, MAYBE YOU CAN EXPLAIN WHAT A POP UP IS, AND SUDDENLY YOU WERE ON THE COVER OF THIS MAGAZINE AND IT UPSET A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO SPENT A LOT OF YEARS DOING THAT.

YEAH, THAT'S EASE SENGS ALLEY WHAT IT IS.

I THINK NOW I THINK THE INDUSTRY AS ANY INDUSTRY SORT OF HAS TO ADAPT FOR A MODERN AGE WHERE YOU CAN GET SO MUCH MORE INFORMATION IN SUCH A QUICKER PERIOD OF TIME, YOU DON'T HAVE TO JUST GO WORK SOMEWHERE TO LEARN.

SO MUCH OF LEARNING IS GETTING THE INFORMATION AND THEN THERE'S THE PART OF LIKE ACTUALLY DOING IT AND SO MY THING WAS I WAS ALWAYS WORKING IN RESTAURANTS ON THE SIDE AS THAT SORT OF PRACTICING HOW TO DO IT, BUT ALSO SORT OF DOING THESE POP UPS WHERE WE WOULD POP UP FOR ONE NIGHT IN A RESTAURANT OR ORIGINALLY DID THEM OUT OF MY MOM'S HOUSE ONCE A MONTH AND THERE WERE WAYS THAT I WAS JUST PRACTICING.

PRACTICING COOKING, PRACTICING ALL THESE THINGS.

I THINK THAT'S THE FUNNY THING WHERE IT'S LIKE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME THINGS NEED TO BE LEARNED STILL IN ANY KIND OF INDUSTRY TO BE GOOD AT IT AND TO KIND OF EXCEL IN IT, BUT I THINK NOW IT'S SORT OF LIKE THERE IS A LOT OF TOOLS AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT IF YOU USE THEM RIGHT YOU CAN DO IT A LOT QUICKER.

THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF BECOMING A CHEF YOU THINK IS A THING OF THE PAST NOW PRETTY MUCH?

NO, I'VE ALWAYS WANTED WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU.

OKAY.

I LEARN BEST BY SORT OF JUST DOING AND SO THAT WAS HOW I COULD LEARN THE MOST AND BE THE BEST CHEF THAT I COULD.

CAMERON, YOU READ A LOT OF REVIEWS AND THEY SAY, LOOK, THE FILM IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT FLYNN'S RISE, IMPROBABLE RISE IN THIS INDUSTRY, BUT IT'S ALSO AND PERHAPS EVEN MORE ABOUT THE INTERESTING DYNAMIC AND DRAMA OF HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS MOTHER MEG.

WAS THAT YOUR INTENTION?

ARE THEY RIGHT?

I THINK THEY ARE RIGHT.

I MEAN, FOR ME THAT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT BROUGHT ME TO THE PROJECT AND THEIR DYNAMIC AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS FASCINATING TO ME, THE MOTHER AND SON RELATIONSHIP.

I TEND TO MAKE FILMS ABOUT UNTRADITIONAL FAMILY DYNAMICS, I MADE A FILM ABOUT A NEW ORLEANS MADAM WHO RAN A BROTHEL WITH HER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER.

THIS IS A DIFFERENT STORY.

LET'S MAKE THAT CLEAR.

THAT'S SORT OF WHAT SUSTAINS THE FILM FOR SO MANY YEARS IS SO HE GO THAT RELATIONSHIP DEVELOP AND GROW.

IT'S OBVIOUS WHEN YOU SEE THIS FILM YOUR PASSION IN WHAT YOU DO.

IT'S A JOY TO WATCH, BUT BEING A CHEF AIN'T BEANBAG.

WHAT'S THE WORST PART OF THE JOB?

I MEAN, THERE IS A MILLION THINGS THAT GO WRONG EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I THINK THE WAY THAT I'M STILL SANE DOING IT IS YOU SORT OF TAKE THAT AS A CHALLENGE.

I MEAN, LITERALLY AS I WAS GETTING HERE OUR OVEN BROKE AND I GOT A BUNCH OF PHONE CALLS ABOUT THAT.

IT'S LIKE IT'S -- IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON TO ENJOY AND KIND OF THRIVE IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS SO KIND OF CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND STRESSFUL AND --

STRESSFUL INDEED.

IT'S DEFINITELY LIKE YOU SEE IN THE FILM, LIKE THAT NIGHT WHILE THE FIRST POP UP IN NEW YORK WHEN I WAS FREAKING OUT, IN HINDSIGHT IS JUST LIKE A KIND OF BAD NIGHT IN SERVICE.

IT'S SORT OF YOU LEARN -- YOU GET REALLY ACCUSTOMED HOW TO DEAL WITH THINGS GOING WRONG.

GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S A GREAT FILM.

FANTASTIC STORY.

THANK YOU.

AND IF YOU'D LIKE TO WATCH THE FILM CHEF FLYNN YOU CAN FIND OUT HOW TO DO THAT BY VISION I GET OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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