In 1998, Roger Sherman began chronicling the birth of restaurateur Danny Meyer’s side-by-side restaurants, Eleven Madison Park and Tabla. The Restaurateur, winner of the 2010 Sonoma Film Festival’s Best Documentary-Food, celebrates what was then an innovation: Seasonal menus with locally sourced ingredients, and the fusion of American and Indian cuisines.

Everything starts with the food

says chef Danny Hume, imported from San Francisco when the New York Times give the eatery two stars twice in a row, plunging the original chef into tears. The food is one of the center points of fine dining, but with a remarkable space and skilled staff, a restaurant can easily falter. Meyer, as captured by Roger Sherman, strives for success.

From the development of the rooms and the development of the menu to training the staff, Sherman documents the challenges of the simultaneous openings of Eleven Madison Park, a traditional restaurant with seasonal food and Tabla, featuring the Indian influences of chef Floyd Cardoz, who is shown creating the menu items in his home kitchen.

While now, almost a decade and a half since the opening of Eleven Madison Park and Tabla, there are several television shows that give quick glimpses into running or improving restaurants, The Restauteur provides a more in depth and nail biting look at what happens when an experienced professional may have bitten off more than he can chew. And what he and his team have to do to earn the coveted reviewers’ stars.

Danny Meyer comes off as delightful, dedicated and passionate. His enthusiasm for food and creating dining experiences are infectious and he rallies his investors, contractors, chefs and wait staff to bring the finest cuisines possible to New York.

The Restaurateur is available in DVD March 29, 2011.