Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table

Watch Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table

  • 2016
  • 1 hr 36 min
  • 8.6  (66)

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table is a documentary film that takes a deep dive into the life and career of one of the greatest innovators in the restaurant industry, Ella Brennan. Directed by Leslie Iwerks, the film delves into the world of New Orleans cuisine, exploring how Brennan's vision transformed the food scene of the city and eventually revolutionized the culinary landscape of America.

Ella Brennan was born in 1925 and grew up in the shadow of her famous brother, Owen Brennan, who owned Brennan's, a restaurant that at the time was considered the pinnacle of fine dining in the city. Despite this, Ella knew that she had a true passion for the industry and was determined to forge her own path. Her journey began in the Brennan's kitchen, where she worked as a hostess before eventually taking over as the restaurant's manager.

With an unbreakable spirit and a vision to create something truly special, Ella set about transforming the tired old establishment into a chic, new-age restaurant that would cater to the burgeoning creative and artistic crowd in the city. She introduced fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, innovative menu designs, and bold, new flavors that quickly drew attention from all corners.

Over the decades, her success only grew, with her influence reaching far beyond the borders of New Orleans. She opened new restaurants, mentored young chefs, and even played host to political figures such as JFK and international celebrities like Julia Child and James Beard.

The film combines rare archival footage with contemporary interviews with Ella's contemporaries and chefs who were inspired by her work, such as Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, John Besh, and Paul Prudhomme. These interviews not only offer insight into Ella's life, but also reveal how her influence changed the course of their own professional journeys.

In the film, we see a side of Brennan that is often overlooked, examining her as a trailblazer for women's rights, a champion of local businesses, and a tireless supporter of the arts. It becomes clear that her love for New Orleans extended beyond the kitchen and onto the streets, where she was actively involved in cultural initiatives to promote the city's unique heritage.

One of the major themes of the movie is Brennan's unique leadership style, which was a combination of tough love, humor, and a deep passion for her craft. Ella was known for her razor-sharp wit and her front-of-house charisma, but also for her mastery of the back-of-house operations that often eluded other restaurant owners. She had a unique ability to inspire her staff to greatness and foster a sense of family among them that lasted for years to come.

Finally, the film examines the legacy of Ella Brennan and the importance of her vision for the future of the restaurant industry. Despite her death in 2018 at the age of 92, her influence continues to be felt around the world, and her philosophies on culinary innovation, hospitality, and community remain just as relevant today as they were in the 1950s.

Overall, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table is a must-watch for any food lover, anyone interested in the history of the American restaurant industry or entrepreneurship, or anyone who wants to be inspired by a true icon of the trade. It is a beautifully crafted tribute to an extraordinary woman who made her mark on the world in her own unique and unforgettable way.

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table is a 2016 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 36 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.6.

Where to Watch Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table
Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV. Some platforms allow you to rent Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 36 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.6  (66)