Meet the chef who lights his Dom Pérignon Molotov cocktails with an Hermès scarf

You might not remember West Coast chef Jeremiah Tower, but in the 1970s he was as hot as American chefs got. He has also proven to be an enigmatic character — at once the toast of the town and a hermit; a radical activist and apolitical. And a new documentary about his life explores those apparent contradictions.

The new film “Jeremiah Tower:The Last Magnificent” is produced by Anthony Bourdain and it follows the rise and fall of one of America’s most important forgotten chef.

While there are plenty of fascinating anecdotes in the film — including the time he faced a mutiny in his kitchen  when “Nixon’s son of a bitch,” H.R. Haldeman, sat down in his restaurant, Chez Panisse — one particularly story caught our eye.

Tower enjoyed a privileged but lonely childhood, spent mostly at English boarding school. He went on to study architecture at Harvard, and was soon caught up in the revolutionary zeitgeist on campus.

“Fleetingly moved to revolution, he filled a Dom Pérignon bottle with gasoline, stuffed it with an old Hermès scarf, carried it in a Tiffany bag to campus, and flung it ineptly against a wall,” NPR writes. “Posturing over, he fled back to his stove.”


You can’t make this stuff up! Still you have to admire the dedication to good taste.

You can see the film in theaters now following its premier last week at the Tribeca Film Festival,