As with many people, Chef Flynn director Cameron Yates first learned about teen chef Flynn McGarry through a New Yorker Profile. “There was a talk-of-the-town piece called ‘Prodigy’ about this kid who was foraging in his neighbor’s backyards and doing these crazy multiple-course tasting menus in his mother’s living room in Studio City, California,” Yates told Deadline, appearing at SXSW today with producer Laura Coxson and McGarry, his documentary subject. “I was fascinated and contacted him and his mother, and we met for the first time [in] 2013.”
Deemed a “child prodigy” by many—though McGarry wouldn’t use that term to describe himself—the chef made a name for himself at a young age, spearheading a $160-a-head dining club out of Los Angeles by age 12. Approached by Yates for a documentary on his life’s work years ago, it took time for Yates and his producer, Laura Coxson, to gain the chef’s trust. “At first, we were kind of hesitant to do any documentary. We became friends and knew each other for about a year until he actually started filming. I think that was a big thing for my whole family, just to make sure that we were comfortable with the person who was going to be able to show our lives,” McGarry explained. “People wanted to do reality shows and stuff that just didn’t feel comfortable, and then once you met Cameron and hit it off, we felt like, ‘Okay, we’re fine with this happening now.’”
A celebration of McGarry’s achievements at a young age, Chef Flynn is also a warts-and-all portrait of a boy coming of age, coming to terms with his ambitions in the context of his family life. For McGarry, it was important that the documentary would show all the highs and lows that came with his entrepreneurial efforts, demonstrating very clearly that, contrary to the opinions of internet speculators, none of his successes came easy. At every turn, McGarry’s triumphs were the product of the chef’s dedication to his craft, as well as his hard work.
To view Deadline’s conversation with Chef Flynn himself and the creatives behind the documentary, click above.
The Deadline Studio at SXSW 2018 is presented by MoviePass.