Presented by

Breakwater Studios & The New York Times Op-Docs

Before Thomas Keller, It Was Her French Laundry

The French Laundry, run by legendary chef Thomas Keller, has often been recognized as the best restaurant in the world, but few know the story of its original founder, Sally Schmitt. In an emotional final interview before her passing in March 2022, Sally tells her own story as a pioneering chef of California cuisine and sets the table for another way to look at life: where balance, rather than recognition, is the ultimate prize.

Select Festivals

  • Telluride Film Festival
  • DOC NYC Shorts Shortlist
  • Meet the Press Film Festival at DOC NYC
  • SF Doc Stories
  • LACMA  Short Film Showcase
  • Sacramento International Film Festival
  • Devour! The Food Film Fest
  • Vimeo Staff Pick


About the director

An Academy Award® winning short documentary director and entrepreneur, Ben Proudfoot is the creative force behind Breakwater Studios. The studio’s work has been recognized by the  Academy Awards®, The Emmys, The Peabody Awards, Critics Choice Documentary Awards, The James Beard Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, Telluride, and the Tribeca Film Festival among others. Proudfoot was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” for his leadership and innovation in the brand-funded documentary space. He hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Proudfoot is an accomplished sleight-of-hand magician and has performed at The Magic Castle in Los Angeles.