There is one constant of chefs that have made it to the very top of the culinary world. It is hard work, dedication and incredibly long hours of work. Reaching the top is extremely hard but staying there is no walk in the park either as chefs know that one mistake or bad review could shatter all their dreams.
Few chefs have had the courage to give it all up and move on to do other things.
The restaurant business is considered glamorous for many and the very best chefs may be considered to be stars in their own right appearing on television programmes, publishing their own books and becoming household names, even if few people can ever go to their restaurants. They have thousands of people following them on social media and huge recognition.
Sergio Herman was at the top of the game when he decided to close his 3 Michelin star restaurant Oud Sluis on 22 December 2013 after 25 years working to put it at the top of the World’s culinary map.
Sergio Herman, Fucking Perfect is a documentary film being released in cinemas in the Netherlands on 12 March and in Belgium on 18 March. It is a brilliant portrait of this incredibly talented Dutch chef and his work to get to the top.
The documentary, a preview of which was seen by Food and Wine Gazette, is a great story of a chef’s search for perfection. It is a story of ambition and sacrifice. It is also a story of courage. It takes huge courage to close a successful business that could have continued to be at the top end of the culinary world for the next 10 to 15 years. For Herman, it was more difficult to close this episode in his life because it was not just any other business. It is the place where his parents had their restaurant, the place where he grew up with his brother and the place where he learned to cook. It is therefore no wonder that the chef is emotional on the final night when dinner is served for the last time at Oud Sluis.
Sergio Herman Fucking Perfect is a must watch for anyone interested in food, the restaurant business and the quest to reach the top. But it is also a stunning work for those who are ambitious, because it is an eye opener that work-life balance is incredibly hard if not impossible to achieve if you aim to reach the top. In the end, something always has to give.
It is an inspirational story of a chef who took what could probably be the toughest decision of his life. He decided to choose his family over the incredibly long working hours.
Director and film-maker Willemiek Kluijfhout follows the Dutch chef from the moment he announces that the restaurant is to close to the opening of the new restaurant in Antwerp The Jane together with chef Nick Bril.In many ways, it is also a story of hope and one which shows that if you are determined, there can be new beginnings which can also be successful in their own right as the success of The Jane has shown.
Since its opening in Antwerp, the Jane has been a huge success story with a long waiting list to book and the awarding of its first Michelin star last November.
The documentary portrays the dilemma many entrepreneurs face with letting go of their business and delegating to others. It is the reason why Sergio Herman finally closed Oud Sluis. But it is also the reason why he has moved on to his new ventures.
The film does not really focus on the dishes or Sergio Herman’s style though there are many shots of mouthwatering dishes that have become the trademark of a distinct style of plating food (the Nordic and Northern European style).
It rather brings out the story of one of the most talented chefs the world has had in the past years and the knowledge that he is not seeing his children grow, he is not the father he wants to be or the husband he should be. It shows the concerns his wife has about his health if he continues to push so hard.
An obsession with perfection means that Sergio is working incredibly long hours. When the restaurant finally closes, he looks a bit at a loss but you can expect this from someone who had been working more than 18 hours a day. When he is filmed going to Antwerp for the first time in the film, he jokes that “the country boy is moving to the city.” The Jane was a huge project given that he and Bril converted an old church into a stunning restaurant. It also required hard work but his name was enough to ensure that the restaurant was fully booked for the weekends of the first three months within a morning when the booking was opened for the first time.
Is he still working as hard as he was before? Is it as stressful as it was at Oud Sluis when he was cooking and running the show? Has he finally succeeded in reaching his goals?
Only time will tell. In the meantime we have one recommendation, don’t miss this film.
For a list of cinemas that will be showing Sergio Herman Fucking Perfect click here.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet you can view it here.