Ella Brennan: Commanding The Table

Filmmaker: Leslie Iwerks
Runtime: 93 min

Ella Brennan is a household name in the restaurant industry. Known today as the inspirational matriarch of the rambling Brennan family of New Orleans and the force of nature behind first Brennan’s and the Commander’s Palace. Fired by her family at one point, she shouldered on. She was the creator of elaborate New Orleans breakfasts and jazz brunches and revolutionized creole cuisine. A pioneer of the modern American food movement, she pushed her chefs to the forefront of helping to launch the celebrity chef phenomenon.

What many don’t know is that when Ella Brennan was a teenager in 1940’s New Orleans, the city’s food and drink business was in its infant stage, generating less than a million dollars a year. Today, it has grown into a billion-dollar industry for the city, many crediting the Brennan family, guided by Ella for pushing Creole wining and dining into the American mainstream and creating a lasting impact on how Americans eat and drink.

Interviews and vérité footage with current and former chefs from Commander’s Palace, restaurateurs, peers, family, and friends will provide past and present glimpses into Ella’s unique life and the world. This is the intimate and triumphant story of a groundbreaking American woman.

About the Filmmaker

Leslie Iwerks is an Academy Award® and Emmy® nominated director and producer. For over a decade, she has produced, directed, and edited award-winning feature and short documentaries, television specials, tributes, and digital content. Her body of work encompasses enterprise feature films (The Pixar Story, Citizen Hearst, ILM: Creating the Impossible, the Imagineering Story, Hand Behind the Mouse) to her acclaimed environmental and social issue documentaries (Recycled Life, Pipe Dreams, Dirty Oil, and Downstream). Leslie is an adventure and travel enthusiast, and has filmed on all seven continents around the world. Her desire to innovate and push boundaries in documentaries, film, animation and new technologies has been cultivated and inspired by her family lineage.  Her grandfather, Ub Iwerks, was the original designer and co-creator of Mickey Mouse and multi-Academy Award winning visual effects pioneer. Her father, Don Iwerks, also an Academy Award winner for Lifetime Technical Achievement, was founder of the large format film company, Iwerks Entertainment, building large format systems in over 200 theaters around the world.