As the team built the exterior of Hawthorn on location on Hampton Island, Georgia, and the interior on a soundstage, Tobman wanted to bring in elements of real-world restaurants. Allusions to the now closed Swedish restaurant Fäviken, Catalan restaurant El Bulli, Sonoma, California, French Laundry restaurant, Chicago’s Alinea and Copenhagen restaurant Noma can be seen throughout Hawthorn. El Bulli’s famous backlit spice rack has been recreated in exquisite detail, while French Laundry’s garden inspired vegetable patch.
Tobman also worked closely with Dominique Crenn, the three-star Michelin chef at San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn restaurant, who was a consultant on the film. Speaking with Crenn and his team, it quickly became apparent that the Hawthorn kitchen actually had to work in order for the action of the film to feel seamless and authentic. Tobman sourced functional kitchen appliances for the construction of the interior set and acquired a custom-built open flame stove from Savannah Grills by Demant after seeing a similar one at local restaurant Common Thread. Although the kitchen is slightly larger than a typical restaurant kitchen, it is particularly realistic.
In fact, Crenn was so impressed with Tobman’s set design that she hired him to redesign Atelier Crenn, which is slated to open in late January. “It’s a real ‘art imitates life imitates art’ story,” says Tobman. “But if I can get a table once in a while it might be worth it..”