The intersection of cinema and haute cuisine was honored July 11 at a reception celebrating Culinary Cinema Month on the SundanceNOW Doc streaming website and the 55th anniversary of famed New York restaurateur Sirio Maccioni’s arrival in New York from his native Italy.
Fittingly, Maccioni’s iconic Gotham eatery Le Cirque played host to the event, and is also the subject of one of the nine documentaries selected for the Sundance Now package: director Andrew Rossi’s “Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven,” which focuses on the restaurant’s 2006 move from the Palace Hotel to its current location in the imposing Bloomberg headquarters on East 58th Street.
The cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres brought out a cross-section of foodie and filmmaking luminaries, including documentary legends D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (co-directors of “Kings of Pastry,” about the world championships of French pastry making), former New York Times food critic Bryan Miller, Nobu and Tribeca Grill impresario Drew Nieporent, and AMC Networks’ Josh Sapan.
Film programmer Thom Powers, who curated the Culinary Cinema season, characterized the films as going beyond the formulas of most TV cooking shows: “Here’s a chef. He’s going to make something in an hour. Go!” Rossi, who has directed several food-themed docs and whose parents ran the late, lamented Parioli Romanissimo on the Upper East Side, voiced his feeling that these films capture “the art that takes place in the kitchen and in the dining room.”
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Throughout the evening, the octogenarian Maccioni held court in a corner of the private upstairs room, looking every inch a foodie Don Corleone in an elegant pinstripe suit with pink pocket handkerchief. Asked if there was a secret to staying on top of the very competitive restaurant game for five decades (Le Cirque first opened its doors in 1974), he said simply, “Work and don’t talk too much. We do the best we can without being presumptuous. A restaurant should be a good restaurant, that’s all.”