Director Cameron Yates’ new documentary “Chef Flynn,” released Nov. 9, tells the story of the prodigy chef Flynn McGarry. Despite a somewhat disappointing ending, “Chef Flynn” captivates its viewers with its authentic depiction of Flynn’s gripping road to success and the endless support that he receives from his mother, sister and friends.
The film starts with the 10-year-old Flynn taking joy in beginning to cook meals for his family to alleviate his growing frustration with their diet of daily takeout food and limited cooking repertoire at home. As he becomes more enthusiastic about his culinary passions, Flynn invites his friends and their families over to his house to share his culinary creations, and he eventually starts his own American dining club at 12 called Eureka in his home. Flynn soon starts gaining more social profile after a New York Times article is written about Eureka when he is 15, and the documentary focuses on his efforts to try to start up his own permanent restaurant in New York.
Yates authentically portrays Flynn’s career in a way that viewers may find surprising. Some may think that Flynn did not have many obstacles to his success because of his innate talent and fervor for cooking as well as the consistent financial assistance from his family. However, the documentary shows the tremendous amount of work and pressure that Flynn had to go through. Yates shows the criticism that he had to deal with at only 15, and the emotional and physical support that his mother and sister provided him so he could achieve his aspiration of being a renowned chef.
For instance, viewers see a time where Flynn faces significant backlash from the public after The New York Times published an article about Eureka calling Flynn a “Chef at 15” because of the excessiveness of the situation. By presenting the audience with a major crisis right after Flynn’s successful launching of Eureka, the movie effectively disproves the misconceived notion of a smooth road to success and instead movingly shows the reality of the struggles that Flynn had to deal with to continue to strive for his culinary dream.
The film also highlights the endless support that Flynn’s mother, sister and friends provided him throughout the entirety of his culinary career. Meg McGarry, Flynn’s mother, especially showed great involvement during the movie in helping her son start Eureka, emotionally manage his rise to celebrity by being aired on diverse TV shows and eventually launch a permanent restaurant in New York. Through the movie’s cinematography and narration techniques, Yates also emphasizes her ardent engagement with her narration and videos of her with her son. Along with showing Paris McGarry, Flynn’s sister, and his friends helping him significantly during his time managing Eureka in LA, the documentary excellently conveys that the degree of support he received from the people around him was crucial in making him the chef he is today.
However, the film does fall a bit short with its ending. Yates does not give any references or hints as to how Flynn is currently doing with his dream career as a chef in New York. The film could have extended itself to the progress that Flynn has made in his culinary career in New York, such as news on any new openings of his restaurants and what the general public and professional culinary reviewers think of his restaurants. Instead, the film suddenly ends, leaving its audiences to guess that Flynn is continuing his successful career in New York.
Overall, “Chef Flynn” is a solid documentary about the prodigal Flynn McGarry that will leave its viewers intrigued by the real success story of Flynn as well as the beautiful illustration of the vital support that he received from his mother, sister and friends. Nevertheless, its rather abrupt and lacking ending prevents the film from being laudable in its entirety.