Lunch With Ken Burns

Tom Heath's "Value Added" column moves to Mondays. Until then, he wrote up the highlights of a recent trip to New England:

One of the perks of this job -- maybe the best perk -- is that I get to meet interesting people. Last week, I joined half a dozen folks for lunch with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns at a cafe/gourmet chocolate shop named Burdick's

Burns talked about his upcoming documentaries that his company, Florentine Films, is working on. The National Parks, an ode to some of the most beautiful landscape in the U.S., will appear on PBS in about a year. He also has a documentary about the Central Park Jogger case and another film, which intertwines the lives of the two Roosevelts, Teddy and Franklin, who held the U.S. presidency during the 20th Century.

Florentine has nearly 20 documentary films to its credit, including The Brooklyn Bridge, Baseball, Jazz and The Civil War, which is viewed as Burns' masterpiece.

"The Ken Burns Effect," a film technique that involves the camera panning and zooming across a photograph to give a sense of motion, is named for him. "Burns Effect" software has even been developed by Apple Computer.

I have heard Burns speak before, but I was even more struck by how verbal and articulate he is. His passion for his work really comes through. A lot of what he does is similar to a reporter's job, which involves research, interviews and always keeping an eye on moving the narrative forward.

While at lunch, I learned a few cool things about Burdick's. It's a high-end chocolate shop that doesn't like any reference to candy. It's chocolate, not candy, I was told.

Larry Burdick moved his high-end chocolate business from New York to "bucolic" Walpole in the early 1990s. Burdick's is now half chocolate shop, half cafe. Check out the chocolate mice, they sell gazillions of them and ship them around the country for presents.

I am a confirmed foodie, and I had Burdick's mussels in white wine for an appetizer and meatloaf for the main course. Yum.

Another night, we tried the fresh haddock at The Walpole Inn down the road. I love fresh haddock. The Inn's owner, Cindy Creteau-Miller, sounded like she might be selling the place, if anyone is interested.

On the same trip, I visited Kennebunkport, Maine, where my wife and I stayed at The White Barn Inn, where we had great food. The White Barn Inn is part of the Relais & Chateau worldwide network of great - and pricey - restaurants and inns.

It's a very cool place, although expensive. You've got to splurge once in a while.

By Tom Heath  |  October 31, 2008; 2:00 PM ET  | Category:  Value Added
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