[VFF ’16] How to Achieve Perfection with Chef Sergio Herman, A Documentary Review

poster3Victoria Film Festival
Sat, Feb 13th, 8:45pm
The Vic Theatre
808 Douglas St.
Victoria, BC

Sergio Herman’s high standards of cooking, gastronomy and culinary presentation is very prominent in the documentary of his life, Sergio Herman: F***ing Perfect. As former head chef and owner of Oud Sluis, a 3-star Michelin rated restaurant in Sluis, Netherlands, he pushed his staff to excel at what they do. He was not harsh or cruel like Chef Ramsay. Like him, they are both superstars in this culinary world. While Gordon Ramsay went on to achieve celebrity status in television, Herman never had the time to put his face on any other screen.

In the documentary, the last years of his time at the Oud are looked at. He talks about his struggles with trying to maintain a family (he has four children) and keeping up with two restaurants at the time. He admits to being a workaholic. It’s a virtue engrained in him when he apprenticed at the Oud when his father was head chef. He inherited the operation and to put closure on this chapter on his life was difficult. The film nicely highlights the issues he faced and spices up the story with teases of delectable meals he makes. From traditional dishes like langoustines à la nage to experimental like having a sea urchin shell filled with cream of rutabaga, the seafood lover will be salivating!

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With interviews from his wife Ellemieke and co-workers, Nick Bril and Syrco Bakker (to name a few), the details reveal how hard he is to himself instead of on others. Closing this establishment was difficult for him since excellence was achieved. What could he do next? Herman needed to challenge himself. What this movie hints at is his love for the visual arts. He sketches too. More could have been explored about this, as one of his logo designs is etched onto the plates on the last days of the Oud’s operation.

This movie was filmed in 2013, before Herman decided to close the Oud, and the film looks at him getting his next enterprise started, The Jane, in Antwerp. While he also trained Chef Syrco Bakker who runs the Pure C, Sergio’s second restaurant in Cadzand, Herman’s presence seems to be that of coming in from time to time to check in on operations. Instead of shifting direction to take care of this establishment, Herman wanted to free up his time.

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A second watch is required to catch on to the fact he wants to spend more time with his family. The comparisons of his life with his father is obvious, and this detail nicely shows what he needs to do to change. With his newest venture, nothing about his workhorse attitude seems to have altered. Although its a much more relaxed environment, the hope is that he now has the time to watch his children grow up. They are at an impressionable age where they should be with his father. He does love them, and the story leans towards all that he’s missed in having a perfect family life too.

3½ Blokes out of 5

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