Thursday, December 25, 2008

Le Cirque : A Table In Heaven

There is almost always two sides to any good story and making of an exclusive restaurant is no different. We have heard about Le Cirque from Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires. Now, HBO's documentary Le Cirque : A Table In Heaven offers an intimate view from the other side. You see the tremendous performance pressure the management and staff are under to be rated favorably by an reputed food critic. A small error or omission in the complex choreography that defines a customer's dining experience can result in a highly damaging review - it can undo very quickly what it took millions of dollars, untold amount of sweat and toil to build.

Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque struggles to protect his own vision of the restaurant when they close in 2004 to re-open two years later. His three sons have ideas that will make the new establishment much more competitive and attract younger clientele. Their father can the biggest asset for Le Cirque and impediment to changes they would like to bring.

The friction between generations, the lack of common purpose and direction causes much aggravation for staff and management alike. The results make their way in subtle ways to a customer's table. The question ultimately is whether there is a classic definition of gourmet that can stand the test of time, if a formula for success from the past be transferred verbatim to a new generation.

Le Cirque's story is that of the classic struggle of a once successful business trying to reinvent itself to remain relevant in a changing world full of younger, more diverse customers without losing its unique value proposition.

Premieres Monday, December 29 at 8pm. Here is a trailer for the movie.

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