Second in indy film series to feature chef

SUWANEE -- After living in New York City for 18 years, Sally Rowe likes to stay up on popular and trendy restaurants.About 12 years ago, she read about a young, up-and-coming chef, who happened to earn a 3-star rating from a food critic in The New York Times.

"I like to eat out and keep abreast of what's in the city and see what this young guy was doing," Rowe said this week.

Shortly after that visit to Atlas, a restaurant on Central Park South, Rowe approached chef Paul Liebrandt about making a film about him and his techniques in the kitchen.

"Paul was doing something in the U.S. that nobody else was doing," said Rowe, who referred to flavor combinations and textures. "I really wanted to know who was in the kitchen. I asked if I could start doing a film about him, chronicle his ups and downs. It's hard to translate (cooking) visually. Paul's food was really beautiful and translated well. It was before the whole food craze kicked in. I always thought that, he had been cooking since he was 15, behind closed doors, and he was only 23, 24 when I first met him, and he was pretty much a hot shot."

The film that took 10 years to make will be shown at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Movie Tavern in Suwanee at 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. The event is the second film in the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers to be shown in the city. Individual tickets are $6 and include light refreshments and a Skype question-and-answer session with Rowe.

Series package tickets are also available and include a complimentary glass of wine at each film.

This movie, "A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt" is an Emmy-nominated film that's also aired on HBO. It chronicles Liebrandt's career that includes cooking such dishes as eel, violets, and chocolate; espuma of calf brains and foie gras, and beer and truffle soup.

Rowe, a New Zealand native, made her directorial debut with the film, but said she's working on documentary and television series projects. This film was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming.

When Rowe first approached Liebrandt about the film, he was hesitant, but she figures he agreed to it in part because of his age, and being open to new ideas.

"We stayed out of his way, we respected him and he respected us," Rowe said. "We had a good working relationship. I think he kind of liked the idea. I'm sure there were times he got sick of us."

But Rowe said Liebrandt remains a chef on the cutting edge and an inspiration to other chefs.

It was difficult to film, she said, because kitchens are noisy, hot and typically have bright lights.

Rowe said she used 10 years of shooting because she waited "until I felt I had a strong ending. You just keep going, and you get so invested you have to see it through."

This film series also gives the project another chance with audiences who haven't seen it, Rowe said, and contends that it de-mystifies the "snobbery of culinary."

"The good thing about this film, every time you watch it, there will be something new you see, because there's a lot of subtleties," Rowe said. "It's a fun film."

The film series will continue in Suwanee through April with four more films scheduled to be shown.