By William Wolf

THE BEST TEN FILMS OF 2016  Send This Review to a Friend

(Selected from films released in New York theaters during the year and listed in order of preference,)

1.I, DANIEL BLAKE

2. LA LA LAND

3. LOVING

4. THINGS TO COME

5. LION

6. THE INNOCENTS

7. FATIMA

8. JACKIE

9. THE PEOPLE VS. FRITZ BAUER

10. MARGUERITE

Other favorites among 2016 films, listed in no special order:

Fences, Neruda, 13th, Elle, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, The Measure of a Man, OJ: Made in America, Denial, Snowden, Sully, Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, Art Bastard, Mia Madre, Sand Storm, Indignation, Café Society, Florence Foster Jenkins, Toni Erdmann, The Pickle Recipe, Finding Babel, Fire at Sea, A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Birth of a Nation, War Dogs, A Man Called Ove, Anthropoid, Genius, Dough, Papa: Hemingway in Cuba, Louder Than Bombs, Rules Don’t Apply, Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?, Hell or High Water, I Am Not Madame Bovary, I Am Not Your Negro.

CAREERS THROUGH CULINARY ARTS PROGRAM (C-CAP) HONORS CHEF MICHAEL ANTHONY AND HOSTS GRAND TASTING   Send This Review to a Friend

On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Untitled and Studio Café at the Whitney Museum of American Art was honored in front of 700 guests at the 18th annual Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Benefit. Anthony was presented with the C-CAP Honors Award and was recognized for his achievements and contributions to the culinary industry as well as his commitment to nurturing the next generation of chefs.

This grand tasting, held at Chelsea Piers, raised nearly $1,000,000 to support scholarships as well as educational and career opportunities for disadvantaged youth pursuing careers in the restaurant and food service industry. The event showcased cuisine from an all-star lineup of New York City’s major chefs and restaurateurs.

They included Michael Anthony, C-CAP Board Co-Chair and chef Marcus Samuelsson; C-CAP Board Member and restaurateur Michael Stillman; 2016 Michelin Star Chefs, Adam Bissell, Daniel Boulud and Aaron Bludorn, John Fraser, Markus Glocker, Alfred Portale, Michael White; and Javi Estévez of La Tasquería de Javier Estévez (Madrid); as well as C-CAP alumni Giovanna Delli Compagni of Asiate, Cesar Gutierrez of Café Boulud, Betty Peña of Pig and Khao, Swainson Brown of The Writing Room, and Yvan Lemoine of Union Fare. More than 60 New York City C-CAP high school students and alumni, hoping to put their mark on the culinary world, assisted the chefs.

The savory dishes included were Marcus Samuelsson’s spiced salmon with apple dashi and chicken rice salad; Michael Anthony’s citrus and burrata - citrus, burrata cheese, green olives, radicchio, on rice cracker; duck liver mousse parfait, madeira gelée, brioche from Daniel Boulud, Aaron Bludorn, and C-CAP grad Cesar Gutierrez; and Carla Hall’s braised chili pork and plantains, cornbread, shaved radish salad.

Desserts included Miro Uskokovic’s miro’s cookies and milk: triple chocolate chunk, oatmeal, prune rugelach; Sarabeth’s triple chocolate-chocolate pudding; Wayne Harley Brachman’s flourless chocolate tart with mocha cream, and Marc Aumont’s Chocolate éclair au chocolat.

WCBS-TV News Anchorman Maurice DuBois was the master of ceremonies. Marcus Samuelsson presented the C-CAP Honors Award, an original stainless steel sculpture by Philip Grausman, of a germinating fava bean, symbolizing C-CAP’s budding culinary students and recognizing the care and interest chef Anthony has in the mentoring of C-CAP students.

The event also included a silent and live auction by Christie’s auctioneer Chloe Waddington and was coordinated by Harriet Rose Katz of Gourmet Advisory Services.

Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a non-profit that provides career opportunities in the foodservice industry for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment.

Dish List: Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch, 24 hour coriander and sea salt cured Atlantic salmon with sauce gribiche.

Jason Weiner and Alex Nieto, Almond, Lamb meatball Moroccan style: ricotta salata, salsa verde.

Christian Pratsch, Giovanna Delli Compagni*, Daniel Coward*, Asiate, hamachi: carrot panna cotta – yuzu gel – pink peppercorn.

Markus Glocker, Bâtard, Caramelle pasta, duck broth, scallions, ricotta.

Daniel Boulud, Aaron Bludorn, Cesar Gutierrez*, Café Boulud, duck liver mousse parfait, madeira gelée, brioche.

Carla Hall, Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen, braised chili pork and plantains, cornbread, shaved radish salad.

Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos, grilled pineapple and toasted coconut guacamole with pepino enchilito.

John Fraser, Dovetail, baby beets and pomegranate salad, charred fennel, bulgur wheat.

Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia, beef tagliata rossini with black truffle.

Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill, sheep milk ricotta tortellini: braised lamb shank, butternut squash parmesan crema.

Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern/ Untitled, Citrus and burrata - citrus, burrata cheese, green olives, radicchio, on rice cracker.

Miro Uskokovic, Gramercy Tavern/Untitled, Miro’s cookies and milk: triple chocolate chunk / oatmeal / prune rugelach.

Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent, rice crusted bass, kerala, coconut curry.

Marc Aumont, Kreuther Handcrafted, chocolate éclair au chocolat .

Missy Robbins, Lilia, prosciutto, parmigiano butter, balsamic mustard served on bread.

Maria Loi, Loi Estiatorio, Htapodaki stin schara: grilled octopus with red wine-macerated onions, capers, fresh herbs, lemon, and olive oil.

Kyung Up Lim, Michael's, salmon tostada, avocado, puffed quinoa, black truffle aioli.

Abram Bissell, The Modern, “Eggs on eggs on eggs” trout roe, egg yolk, fried egg puree, dill and warm brioche.

Matt Hoyle, Nobu 57, salmon tataki goma miso ponzu.

Bill Telepan, Oceana, Grilled swordfish with pickled lemon and black pepper yogurt.

Zene Flinn, Park Avenue Spring, trout roe on Russian black bread with avocado purée and beet pickled shallots.

Leah Cohen, Betty Pena*, Pig & Khao, Khao soi with wonton noodles, mustard.

Michael Lomonaco, Wayne Harley Brachman, Daniel Rutledge, Porter House New York, Thai beef salad- chang mai and flourless chocolate tart with mocha cream/

Ryan Bartlow, Quality Eats, grilled Nueske’s bacon, peanut butter, jalapeno jelly.

Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth's, triple chocolate-chocolate pudding.

Ali LaRaia, The Sosta, roasted radish with salsa verde and parmigiano reggiano crouton.

Marcus Samuelsson, Streetbird Rotisserie, spiced salmon with apple dashi and chicken rice salad.

Javi Estévez, La Tasquería de Javier Estévez (Madrid), Madrid steak tartar.

David Burke, Tavern 62 by David Burke, grilled zucchini with chili and parmesan.

Thomas Chen, Toume, Shrimp toast with wasabi aioli.

Yvan Lemoine*, Union Fare, whole roast suckling pig, celery remoulade.

Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Café, chicken tortelloni, Umbrian lentils, parmigiano.

Jonathan Kavourakis, Vandal, Shawarma salad cones (chicken, falafel croutons, hot sauce white sauce boss).

Michael White, Jared Gadbaw, Vaucluse, scallop crudo with black truffles.

Swainson Brown*, The Writing Room, Pastrami beef tongue with pickled apple and horseradish.

*C-CAP Alum

NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2017  Send This Review to a Friend

There are so many films included in this year’s New Directors/New Films series jointly presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art (March 15-26) that the best I can do is report on what I have managed to sample at press previews amid the hectic schedule of regular film and theater coverage.

Over the years many films in the series have leapt to wider recognition. Those who make the selections have the opportunity to find gems or at least discoveries worth a wider audience, and that is the satisfaction that the series brings annually.

Depending on your capacity for rap, you may find “Patti Cake$,” written and directed by Geremy Jasper, an appealing offbeat film with a magnetic heroine. Danielle Macdonald, seriously overweight, plays Patti, who may lack self-confidence but on the other hand is eager to be a rap performer.

I had no idea of the busy rap scene in northern New Jersey, to which Jasper, a musician and former music video director from Hillsdale, is attuned. He has been inspired to direct his first feature film, and it is alive with passion, rap and the effective depiction of the scene.

Macdonald makes an impression as a likable young woman with heart, and one is seduced into rooting for her. Siddharth Dhananjay is also effective as her hip-hop partner who encourages her, and they acquire as a collaborator Mamoudou Athie. Another major role is played by Bridget Everett as Patti’s alcoholic mother, also a singer. The film is a major entry in the current series.

Although it can sometimes be confusing because of its flashbacks, “By the Time It Gets Dark,” directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong and in Thai wih English subtitles, deals with important issues. The touchstone is a 1976 massacre of Thai student activists at a university. We see a scene in which the students are forced to lie face down, and what happens to many of them became a milestone in Thailand.

Various characters are examined in the film, especially that of an actress who is assumed to be well known. We see her at different stages of her life, and the portrait is linked to the massacre. In some ways “Before It Gets Dark” is a memory story, and in other aspects it appears meant to be of the moment.

“Arabia,” co-directed by João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa, is a Brazilian working class film that zeroes in on conditions and an individual trying to find a path amid the pressures and situations that confront him.

Cristiano has a prison record, a strike against him, and we follow his adventures and struggles as he takes to the road and tries to find his place in life. The film makes a welcome statement about conditions In the country.

I found the film “4 Days in France,” which clocks in at two horus and 21 minutes, extended pretention. Directed by Jérôme Reybaud, the film involves one gay man leaving his lover, who then proceeds to try to find where he went and catch up with him.

What is most interesting, however, is how the film depicts a network of gays through the French countryside connected via smart phones. It would seem that no matter where a gay man is, he can find other gays and rendezvous with them for quickie contacts, or perhaps more than that.

We see all this through the eyes of the lover who has split as he drives along country roads. The scenery is often quite breathtaking, and the film is enlivened by encounters with gays and others not in the network. For example, one woman needs help in burying her pet. Another woman is rather strange and just wants a life.

The trouble is one can tire of the very drawn out journey. Whether there is an emotional kick when the lovers finally meet will depend on how much patience you have.

The South Korean film “Autum, Autumn,” directed by Jang Woo-jin, eventually focuses on a man and woman who meet on a tour. Each is married, but in the course of the film they engage in intimate conversation revealing to each other much about their lives.

He is not very good looking and she is pretty in an ordinary way. What we learn about their respective lives, in the closeness that develops as they express themselves in ways that they have been able to with their mates, is rather tender.

Because of their ties in life, nothing will ever come of this meeting. You might call this a Korean “Brief Encounter,” although it has nowhere near the depth and emotion of the British classic.

A film with particular political interest is “White Sun,” directed by Deepak Rauniyar. It is set in Nepal against the background of the divisions and political rivalries in that country. But the story is a personal one, and that gives the film a very human quality.

The plot involves a Maoist activist who returns home after his father has just died. His father believed in the monarchist regime, which the Maoissts fought in a lengthy civil war. The son’s brother also was on the monarchist side.

What happens in the effort to perform a burial according to the required rituals and the clashing relationship make for an involving and sometimes satirical film. How all is worked out holds one’s attention and tells us much abut human behavior. Reviewed March 20, 2017.

RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA 2017  Send This Review to a Friend

A look at what’s cooking in French Cinema is always interesting, and the opportunity arises each year with the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Series, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance. The time has arrived again (March 1-12) and out of those I sampled, I find a number of the entries in this year’s batch worth attention.

The most important is “Frantz,” François Ozon’s film based on Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 “Broken Lullaby.” Set in a German town, a mystery occurs when a Frenchman visits the symbolic grave of a German soldier killed in World War I. He was Frantz, the fiancé of Anna (Paula Beer), who is still grieving about her loss.

She becomes curious and meets the visitor, Adrien (Pierre Niney), who recounts a friendship with Frantz prior to the war. The story grows more complicated, as Adrien meets Frantz’s parents and romantic impulses spring between him and Anna. Of coruse, we suspect that all is not as it seems.

The film is engrossing, but a rather fanciful ending doesn’t seem convincing. Yet on balance “Frantz” impresses and belongs to the category of anti-war films that portray soldiers as victims no matter which side they are fighting on.

“The Odyssey,” directed by Jérôme Salle, is an enjoyable film about the renowned undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, well-played by Lambert Wilson. The film examines Cousteau’s professional and personal life with emphasis on the problematical relationship with his son, Philippe (Pierre Niney). Audrey Tautou plays the elder Cousteau’s wife Simone, who, to her neglect, must endure her husband’s overriding concentration on his exploits.

A vivid plus is the abundance of underwater shots of sea life. There is also the emphasis on Cousteau’s growing commitment to saving the environment from desecration, a passion that develops within him and builds his resulting activism for that cause.

There has been much attention in France to “Nocturama,” Bertrand Bonello’s fim about a group of young terrorists who blow up buildings in Paris. The first half of the film is suspenseful as we follow the secret movements and meetings carried out to make the coordinated destruction happen. But then instead of scattering to safety, the perpetrators inexplicably gather in a department store after closing.

They party in the store while awaiting a certain morning assault by the police. There doesn’t seem to be any philosophical motivation for the terrorists, who just seem to be out to make trouble or prove that they can. Holing up in the department store seems thoroughly dopy, as it can mean certain death, although when it comes right down to the cops killing the terrorists one by one, it is apparent that they really want to live.

“Django,” directed by Étienne Comar, is a compelling drama about famed jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, impressively played by Reda Kateb. The film concentrates on Reinhardt’s opposition to the Nazi persecution of his Romani people during World War II. Cécile de France has a colorful role as his friend and muse, a woman who fights the Nazis into whose confidence she has worked her way.

Reinhardt’s music becomes a major part of the film, as one would expect, but in that realm there are also revelations that his talent went beyond his playing and encompasses his skill as an orchestra leader as well.

It is always interesting to watch Marion Cotillard, even in the odd film “From the Land of the Moon,” directed by Nicole Garcia. Cotillard plays Gabrielle, who is in an unhappy marriage and is psychologically disturbed. When she goes to a rest home in Switzerland she falls for a fatally ill soldier.

The twist at the end seems more like a joke played on the audience than a logical outcome, and is likely to leave one more annoyed than enlightened. It spoils a potentially effective drama and Cotillard’s impassioned performance goes for naught.

If you enjoy intense medical dramas, “Heal the Living,” directed by Katell Quillévéré, may be for you. A young man is left brain dead after a car accident and his grieving parents must decide whether to allow an organ transplant for someone badly in need of a heart.

The film proceeds to take us into the process of arranging for transplants, involving both the donor and the needy recipient. We go right into the operating room to follow the surgical details. This is only for those who have the stomach for such a film, but for those who do, this is a rewarding experience that is both dramatic and educational.

There are many other films to explore in this jam-packed series. At the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, unless otherwise noted. Details at filmlinc.org. Reviewed March 5, 2017.

PLANNING A LONDON BANQUET FROM NEW YORK  Send This Review to a Friend

How do you set up a family banquet for 25 guests in London from your desk and computer in New York? The occasion was a birthday celebration for my wife, Lillian, who hails from London and has extensive family there. The answer, I learned from the experience, is to contact an excellent hotel, in this case the well-located May Fair in Stratton Street, and a savvy person on the hotel’s events team, to provide dedicated assistance with every detail.

The person who responded to my request for information is Essie Ryan, Meeting and Events Sales Executive, part of a team catering to such occasions, who undertook the challenge. Her suggestion was the Salon, a private room adjacent to the hotel’s restaurant. Our daughter, Julie, happened to be in London for a few days, and met with Ms. Ryan, who showed her the facilities, and Julie emailed me her opinion that the Salon would work out well. As for the hotel, Lillian and I have stayed there repeatedly and always get the accommodation we request, thanks to the assistance of Botho Stein, Deputy General Manager. So we know the overall ambiance.

There were, of course, agreements to be made, a required deposit, with a minimum expenditure for food and drink, but no charge for the Salon itself. Ms. Ryan promptly replied to every request with emails going back and forth about specific details, from how to set up the room to choosing the menus. Ms. Ryan sent photos of the Salon from different angles and tempting menu choices with every aspect covered, from hors d’oeuvres and drinks for an hour-long reception, to starters, main dishes, desserts and wines, all with a range of prices. The time window for the event was unhurried, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

There turned out to be several dietary requirements cited by the invitees, and Ms. Ryan sent menus with options for each—two vegans, one vegetarian, one lactose-free and even special menus for the two children in the group. All of the choices were honored meticulously and creatively. We discussed how many tables to set up, and there were confidential communications that Julie and I had with Ms. Ryan about equipment needed for projection on a screen via a computer, photos of Lillian that Julie had collected secretly. This was to be a surprise to Lillian and it all worked wonderfully.

I finally met Essie Ryan when Lillian and I arrived at the hotel two days before the event, and was further impressed when she showed me the room and we went over how it would be arranged, with the dining area curtained off from the reception area, the curtains to be opened when dinner was to start. A microphone was to be available for anyone wishing to make comments. Ms. Ryan also introduced me to enthusiastically cooperative Daniele Seggio, Meeting and Events Manager, who would be overseeing the event, including the service by the wait staff. Daniele and the servers did a terrific job and the guests were lavish with their praise, not only for the food chosen, but for the efficiency and friendliness of the service.

In short, on the big night, everything went off without a hitch. It was a joyous occasion with Lillian’s nieces and grandnieces and their families, Lillian’s cousins, our daughters Julie and Karen and their families, who flew in from other cities, and the gathering was highlighted by the appearance of Lillian’s 100-year-old cousin Ethel Fedor, who, assisted by her daughter Rosalind, strode in with a cane. Ethel was among those who spoke in honor of Lillian.

The final bill was totally accurate in accordance with what had been arranged with no discrepancies, and it was properly charged to the credit card on file.

This happy experience showed that in the right place and with the right staff one can arrange a dinner long-distance between New York and London in full confidence. Posted February 12, 2017.

'LOW LIFE LAWYER' WITH LONGING FOR JAZZ  Send This Review to a Friend

When the law and jazz are entwined in a novel, it already marks the work as a different take on life. Author Michael Simmons, a retired lawyer with 50 years of experience, has written “Low Life Lawyer: In The Footsteps of Bechet,” a story with a protagonist who is also a lawyer, but deeply admires jazz icon Sidney Bechet, plays the clarinet and—well, one has to read this compelling and fascinating page-turner to appreciate the life that Simmons skillfully creates.

The story, set in England in the 1950s and 1960s, traces the rise and downfall of the elaborately conceived, colorful Richard Gregory. In a brief author’s note, Simmons insists that what he has written is “pure fiction.” He proclaims, “I certainly make no appearance in it nor do any of my clients, colleagues or friends.” He could have fooled me. I take him at his word, but the characters in “Low Life Lawyer” come to life so vividly on the printed page that they seem straight out of reality.

Simmons has also hit upon a snappy way of telling the story, and the method pulls one into the narrative, helps sustain interest and engenders wonder about what comes next. The author uses a three-pronged way of writing, which comes across as sort of a jazz rhythm in itself. There is a narrative voice interspersed with the individual voices speaking for themselves.

For example, when two characters meet, one will provide a first-person take on his or her reaction. Then we get the other person’s personal take, which is likely to reflect a very different perspective. The technique moves the narrative along swiftly and efficiently and is very different from an approach of one view in a very long section of a novel and then counterpointed by a very long alternate perspective. Simmons has found a way to keep the story clicking and make the reader eager to hear from the various people who become part of Gregory’s saga.

And what a saga it is! He rises with his considerable talent and wiles, including his sexual ability and desire to satisfy women with his vaunted technical expertise. Simmons recounts these sexual escapades with candor that sometimes renders them droll as well as erotic.

Step by step Richard begins to fritter away his advantages by compromising ethically and getting himself into trouble. As well as with respect to behavior as a lawyer, this includes marrying into wealth, a big mistake. But that route also feeds the novel’s originality. Unlike cases in which in-laws spell trouble, a bonding with his father-in-law occurs even while eventually being scorned by the wife and her mother.

Although one can predict some aspects of what will happen to Richard, there is pleasure in following his trajectory because of the skill the author demonstrates in his crisp development of the plot and his gift of using the right language, whether in the objective voice, or in the way every character’s self-expression strikes a true individual note in tune with how that character would speak.

Simmons cleverly accents the jazz theme with song titles as chapter titles, such as “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Keeping Out of Mischief Now,” “You Took Advantage of Me,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “High Society,” “Our Love Is Here to Stay” etc.

Much is covered concerning ethics, relationships, struggle, society and conflict. There is humor, tragedy and ultimately a very sentimental ploy. I’ve probably told too much already—further specific revelations would be a spoiler.

I can heartily recommend “Low Life Lawyer: In the Footsteps of Bechet” as an entertaining, involving and smartly written novel with a mosaic of individual portraits and voices by life-like characters, especially that of the protagonist. (First Published in Great Britain in 2016 by the Book Guild Ltd. Available on Amazon and Kindle.) Reviewed January 31, 2017.

CHEF MICHAEL ANTHONY TO BE HONORED AT 2017 C-CAP BENEFIT  Send This Review to a Friend

Michael Anthony, Executive Chef of Gramercy Tavern, Untitled, and Studio Café at the Whitney Museum of American Art, will be honored at the annual Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) benefit on Wednesday, March 8, from 5:45-9:00 p.m. at Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty. Anthony will receive the C-CAP Honors Award, granted to individuals within the culinary industry for exceptional leadership and achievements. Funds raised at the event will support C-CAP’s not-for-profit’s mission of providing job training, internships, competitions for culinary scholarships, college advising, college and career opportunities, lifetime career support, teacher training and curriculum enrichment in the culinary arts to at-risk youth.

The event features food tastings prepared by Michael Anthony and over 36 of the city’s leading chefs, including Chef Chair and C-CAP Board Co-Chair Marcus Samuelsson; Michelin Star chefs Adam Bissell, Aaron Bludorn, Daniel Boulud, Daniel Eddy, John Fraser, Markus Glocker, Alfred Portale, and Michael White, as well as C-CAP alumni Cesar Gutierrez of Café Boulud, Betty Peña of Pig and Khao, Kelvin Fernandez of Strand Bistro, Swainson Brown of The Writing Room and Yvan Lemoine of Union Fare. (A full list of the participating chefs and restaurants is given below.) Assisting the chefs will be more than 60 New York City C-CAP high school students and alumni.

The Chair for this year’s event is Mark Weiss, Chief Investment Officer of RFR Holding LLC and C-CAP’s Board of Directors Co-Chair. WCBS-TV News anchorman Maurice DuBois will be the master of ceremonies. The festivities will also include an auction of various dining, travel and cultural packages.

“We are thrilled to honor Michael Anthony for his remarkable achievements and contributions to the industry and for his commitment to culinary innovation,” says Mark Weiss. “The walk-around tasting event raises funds to support C-CAP’s mission to transform lives of underserved youth who are interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant and food service industry.”

Richard Grausman, C-CAP’s Founder & Chairman Emeritus launched C-CAP in 1990 to teach French cooking in 12 New York City public schools. “We now have thousands of C-CAP alumni around the globe and are impacting the lives of a whole new generation of chefs,” Grausman says. “We are so proud that we continue to manage the largest independent culinary scholarship program in the nation and have awarded over $50 million in scholarships.”

Chef Anthony has received numerous accolades, including Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2002 and Bon Appetit’s “Next Generation” in 2003. In 2008, Gramercy Tavern earned the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Restaurant.” In 2012, Michael won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef in New York City,” and in 2015, he won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef,” a national recognition. In 2016, Michael’s V is for Vegetables won the James Beard Award for “Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian” cookbooks.

“The benefit is our most powerful way in one evening to make a huge difference in the lives of so many young students; C-CAP changes lives by arming at-risk youth with the skills they need to succeed in culinary arts,” says Marcus Samuelsson. “As a chef and longtime supporter of C-CAP’s work, this is an extraordinary program that benefits both its remarkable recipients and the growing market and demand for skilled talent. C-CAP continues to help thousands of qualified students across the country through culinary education opportunities in high school to career placement assistance upon graduation.”

Past recipients of the C-CAP Honors Award include: Daniel Humm, Richard Parsons & Alexander Smalls, Michael White, Tony May, Michael McCarty, Michael Lomonaco, Marcus Samuelsson, Drew Nieporent, Alfred Portale, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Danny Meyer & Michael Romano, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pepin, Egidiana & Sirio Maccioni, Nina & Tim Zagat, and Saul Zabar & Stanley Zabar.

The C-CAP benefit is open to the public. Tickets for general admission are $600 (limited availability). Tickets for VIP admission are $800 and $1,000. The $1,000 ticket includes a signed cookbook from a celebrity chef. For tickets, more information about the event, and sponsorship opportunities, call 212-974-7111 or visit www.ccapinc.org.

Participating Chefs

Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch

Jason Weiner and Alex Nieto, Almond

Christian Pratsch, Asiate

Markus Glocker, Bâtard

Daniel Boulud, Aaron Bludorn, Cesar Gutierrez*, Café Boulud

Carla Hall, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen

Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos

John Fraser, Dovetail

Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia

Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill

Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern/Untitled

Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent

Marc Aumont, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Missy Robbins, Lilia

Maria Loi, Loi Estiatorio

Kyung Up Lim, Michael’s

Abram Bissell, The Modern

Matt Hoyle, Nobu 57

Bill Telepan, Oceana

Zene Flinn, Park Avenue Spring

Leah Cohen, Betty Peña*, Pig & Khao

Michael Lomonaco, Wayne Harley Brachman, Porter House

Ryan Bartlow, Quality Eats

Daniel Eddy, Rebelle

Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster

Andy Bennett, Rouge Tomate

Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth’s

Kelvin Fernandez*, Strand Bistro

David Burke, Tavern62 by David Burke

JJ Johnson, The Cecil

Ali LaRaia, The Sosta

Swainson Brown*, The Writing Room

Yvan Lemoine*, Union Fare

Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Cafe

Chris Santos, Vandal

Michael White and Jared Gadbaw, Vaucluse

*C-CAP Alum

SPIELBERG'S LIFE EXPLAINS HIS FILMS  Send This Review to a Friend

Molly Haskell, an astute critic and perceptive writer, has looked at the life of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and demonstrated its relationship to his films in her new book, “Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films.” The book is part of the Yale series on Jewish Lives.

This is not a full biography of Spielberg, but a view of how the extremely successful director’s life relates to the films he has made, and the experiences that have propelled his career. It is a neat feat, and Haskell makes her exploration both informative and entertaining.

As she points out, Spielberg’s childhood fears and fantasies have fueled his taste for the kind of films that propelled him toward success. Haskell helps us understand where Spielberg was coming from, given his unsettling family background, and the escapes he sought as a youngster.

She doesn’t labor the point by twisting facts to her overview; to the contrary, she repeatedly offers insights into the Spielberg trajectory. Haskell also displays a sense of humor by quoting a remark that Spielberg once made.

Haskell points out in the book’s preface that when Spielberg was addressing directorial aspirants in a master class at the American Film Institute, he dispensed the following advice: “You just have to have confidence. You can’t worry if critics like Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell don’t like your movies.”

Sarris, Haskell’s late husband, was known as a major very outspoken intellectual critic with a vast knowledge of cinema and its history. About Spielberg’s warning, Haskell comments:

“I winced. But I also fell a little in love with him at that moment, with his charm and quick wittedness, his playful faux-modesty, and –most erotic to a movie lover—his obvious knowledge of and passion for films.” She goes on to comment further on her reactions to Spielberg’s remark and why she chose “To tell the story of Spielberg through his films…”

Throughout the fascinating book I find confirmation of my own brief experiences with the filmmaker. I remember being on Martha’s Vineyard and watching him film scenes from “Jaws,” his huge breakthrough film. He described to me in an interview how when he was a boy he would make films with his friends, and to simulate an action movie, he would have them run around the stationary camera. He was already thinking creatively.

In a telephone interview commenting on the success of “Jaws,” he said that film gave him his “f-you” money, so that now he could do any kind of film he wanted to make.

Haskell traces the path of the films he wanted to and did make, and relates them to the stages of his life as it unfolded. She very importantly notes with reference to his all-important Holocaust film “Schindler’s List”: “Only Spielberg, as he himself candidly admitted, had the clout to get a Hollywood studio to back such a film, which not only dealt with a downbeat subject but promised to be brutally realistic by industry standards.”

She goes on to note: “In anticipation of uncertain commercial prospects and because he didn’t want to accept ‘blood money,’ he gave up his salary, deferred his percentage of gross film rentals and when the film actually went on to become a commercial success, donated the profits through his Righteous Persons Foundation to Jewish organizations, including the one he founded after making the film, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.”

There is, of course, a trove of information on Spielberg’s relationships, and in various cases, insightful views on the intertwining of events in his growth as an individual during the course of his career. Remarkably, Haskell has been able to do this without interview access to her subject. (Spielberg has a policy of not giving interviews to biographers.) The strength of the book springs from her skills as a critic able to examine Speilberg’s various films, her ability as a researcher and her lucidity as a writer. Thus her book emerges as one to be recommended for film buffs and those who would just like to have more insight into one of the great careers in cinema history. Reviewed December 20, 2016. (Yale, publication date January 3, 2017.)

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2016--MY JOURNEY THROUGH FRENCH CINEMA  Send This Review to a Friend

The next best thing to taking a course in French cinema, and maybe even a better idea, is to see veteran filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier’s “My Journey Through French Cinema.” This 190-minute, super-intelligent documentary covers an incredible range. Shown at the 2016 New York Film Festival, it will be released in the summer of 2017 by Cohen Media Group.

I have casually known Tavernier over the years, and in addition to having directed an impressive array of films, he is extremely knowledgeable about French film history as well as contemporary French cinema. The films that he has directed include “The French Minister,” “Safe Conduct,” “Lest We Forget,” “Beatrice,” “Coup de torchon,” “‘Round Midnight,” “Mississippi Blues” and “The Judge and the Assassin,” to name just a few.

Tavernier’s overall experience is vast and his acquaintances are voluminous. He examines the work of such greats as Jean Renoir, and he looks at the films of Jean-Luc Goddard, as well as films by a host of other French directors. He also has broad knowledge of the world, important literature and social problems.

In this remarkable film, Tavernier leads us through the impressive history of films that have come from France, from past masters to important newcomers.

This is not just a lecture, but the film contains a fascinating number of clips that will stir nostalgia among those who have long been followers of French cinema and should create interest among younger filmgoers who are just shaping their tastes.

It is a pleasure to listen to Tavernier comment on what he has assembled. He is very personable and in addition to dispensing a spectrum of information, he expresses his viewpoints with conviction and communicates a movie buff’s love of cinema. Tavernier is not only a good teacher but very good company. Watch for this Cohen Media Group release in 2017. Reviewed December 13, 2016.

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2016--GRADUATION  Send This Review to a Friend

Ethical questions are put into sharp focus in director Cristian Mungiu’s Romanian film, “Graduation,” which explores the way beneficial trade-offs are made in an atmosphere in which favors are expected to get favors in return.

The issues are raised when Dr. Romeo Aldea, played smoothly by Adrian Titieni, desperately wants his daughter to pass her crucial high school exam so that she can take advantage of a scholarship in Britain. He also feels it important to get her out of Romania in order to have a better life.

His daughter, Eliza, played with teenage cool by Maria Dragus, fights off an intended rape attack near her school the day before the exam. Meanwhile, amidst his concern for her, Dr. Aldea sets out to guarantee that she indeed passes her exam.

He gets himself into a jam after he makes a bargain involving elevating a government official on the list for a liver transplant in exchange for another official with influence to put on pressure to be sure that Eliza passes.

There will be complications for Dr. Aldea, and Eliza, upon learning what her father has done, is herself faced with an ethical issue. She is not looking for help. She doesn’t even want especially to go to England.

The film’s strength is how it meticulously delves in low-key fashion into various aspects of life—what it is like at home for Eliza, the atmosphere at the hospital where the doctor practices, the kind of wheeling and dealing that occurs, the infighting triggered by the circumstances and the differences between generations—all within the realm of life in Romania. A Sundance Selects release. Reviewed December 12, 2016.

  

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