[ku də fø]: Behind the French Kitchen

Meet Septime’s Head Chef Bertrand Grébaut with Film Director Jerome de Gerlache

Unless you’ve directly experienced working as a chef in a kitchen, it’s difficult to imagine the stress, intensity and test of patience that is inflicted by restaurant work. It is therefore appropriate that Belgian film director, Jerome de Gerlache, has named his short film [ku də fø] (Gunshot), in which, in just 2 short minutes, he brings about a cinematic snap-shot of a head-chef’s duties in a Michelin starred restaurant kitchen.

Based in Paris for the past decade, Jerome direct short and long documentaries and commercials and is preparing from a first feature length film in 2016. His collaboration with the Parisian restaurant, Septime, comes about through a desire to make a more experimental film with the Head Chef, Bertrand Grébaut. “He proposed the idea to try to express the experience of the ‘coup de feu’ in a film,” he tells us. “I proposed him that format and we shoot two nights in his restaurant.”

The restaurant is initially depicted as awaiting the calm before the storm, centrally represented by the extremes of music. Melancholy melodies in the classical style are swiftly replaced by glitchy break-beats that emphasise the ferocity and pace of a kitchen when the restaurant is full of hungry, demanding customers. This ‘behind the scenes’ action is portrayed with emotion and sensitivity, with an opening stare from the Bertrand Grébaut that could suck out your soul. He calls his kitchen team “the brigade”. Such a fast and energizing portrayal is bound to reach audiences with delight.

We caught up with the director to find out more:

TP: How did you become interested in working with La Brigade Cuisine for this video?
Jerome de Gerlache:
I met Bertrand Grebaut last year when I was making a portrait film of him around Thomas Erber’s Cabinet of Curiosities event in Bangkok. The film was published by Nowness and a great experience for both of us I think. After that first experience I wanted to make something different with Bertrand, more experimental. It was a really great moment to share this the “brigade”, these guys are warriors. This was really intense.

TP: What was your motivation for using the music like this?
I liked this differing tones because this is what I felt when I was in the kitchen with Bertrand and his crew, everybody is whispering but inside you feel this is a real chaos. The kitchen is open on the restaurant where it is super quiet and smooth. There is not much noise around, but in the kitchen, the intensity is super high, with barely no sounds, this is quite incredible. The music revealed perfectly both side of that specific moment. I’ve known Apashe, one of the composers, for quite a while and I directly thought about him to put these images in music. When we started to edit, we directly had the feeling with the editor, Elisa Cosse, that it would be a perfect match, and I still think it is.

TP: How does the video reflect the reality of kitchen work?
Bertrand told me that was pretty close to his experience, but not every day of course.

TP: What is your favourite meal when you go to a restaurant? Or do you prefer cooking?
Luckily my wife is a wonderful cook, but we both like to experience restaurants. I never cook myself to be honest. I like to be surprised by chefs, and especially when they cook ingredients I usually don’t like and rediscover those in a complete different way.

TP: What other projects are in the pipeline for you?
Next week I shoot a music video for Ibrahim Maalouf, and some commercials in November. I also have a long documentary with Bertrand around the naturalism movement, and another documentary project around the universe of music with the producer Apashe. And to finish I have a feature film called Where We Go, which we hope to shoot Fall 2016.


Directed by Jérôme de Gerlache
Sound operator Matthieu Desnos
Edited by Elisa Cosse
Mix by Pascal Boudet @ Head-Sign Studio
Color grading by Jean-Christophe Savelli @ SerialB Studio
Music iDynamite | Tha Trickaz feat. Apashe ℗ 2015 Otodayo, Pantheon
Produced by Have a great day Films
Many thanks to Bertrand Grébaut, Théo Pourriat & the Septime Crew, Emma Dornan, Alan Savary & Calisson, Pascal Boudet, and John De Buck.
Purchase the music on iTunes.