Courtesy of Angela Pham

Earlier this year, McGarry, now 19, made his silver screen debut—the subject of an 81-minute documentary premiered at Sundance—and his first permanent New York City restaurant Gem opened for business.

Danica Lo
March 12, 2018

Flynn McGarry, child prodigy. Ask anyone in the food world about McGarry, who opened a supper club in the living room of his family home in California ten years ago at 10-years-old. Everyone has an opinion. Earlier this year, McGarry, now 19, made his silver screen debut—the subject of an 81-minute documentary premiered at Sundance—and his first permanent New York City restaurant Gem opened for business. The documentary, Chef Flynn, screened at SXSW last night. 

"When I first started filming Flynn, he was an awkward, self-conscious teenager, who was embarrassed by his mom," says director Cameron Yates. "I was impressed by his knowledge and skills, but I was also attracted to Meg [his mother] as a character because of what she had to give up to help her child pursue his passion. And an evolution started happening on film. It almost felt as if she was passing the torch and had gotten to a point where she realized she was part of the story as well."

It took more than a year of building a relationship and trust with the family before Yates was given access to archival footage.

"Meg would start showing me clips she’d shot one by one, and at some point, she just turned over her hard drives for safe keeping," Yates says. "It was the beginning of discovering that Flynn’s story was going to be a story of many lenses, many perspectives, and of the dynamic between a mother’s gaze and the media's gaze, performance, and the privacy of the family."

It's this notion of family and home that brings everything full circle in the film.

"In the end, for me, it all comes back to Flynn's bedroom kitchen," Yates says. "That’s what drew me to this story. To build a place as a ten-year-old, to live, to sleep, to experiment, and to create, all in the same space, was remarkable. And what that says about his mother. No mother is traditional, and I hope the story of Flynn becoming Chef Flynn shows how many different ways there are to raise a child."

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