I got to see two food-based movies last week.
Each told a compelling story of one person’s life with food.
In The Hundred-Foot Journey, an Indian immigrant to France becomes the
chef cook at his family’s new restaurant, Maison Mumbai, which opens across the street from a hoity-toity place serving gourmet French cuisine.
Hassan Kadem, the young Indian chef has a gift for food and spices. When the family moves to town, the first person they meet is a sous chef, Margueuite, who works for Madame Mallory the restauranteur across the road. Hassan and Marguerite forge a friendship and a love for food and freshly harvested vegetables.
Helen Mirren plays Madame Mallory who is on a quest for a second Michelin star. She does not want her ambiance affected by the high spirits, joyous music, and spicy aromas wafting across the street.
Madame Mallory is slowly won over by Hassan’s food and when she sees her petty attitudes reflected in other townspeople. She teaches Hassan until he moves to Paris to pursue culinary perfection but loses himself and forgets why and what he loves to cook.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is charming and reminiscent of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I saw it alone but will make sure to see it again with Stud Muffin. He loves food movies.
Which brings me to Chef. We did see this one together. The only thing the two movies have in common is that food is a central character. In Chef, Carl Casper, played by Jon Favreau, is the once-upon-a-time hottest chef in Miami and LA. Carl is stymied creatively and professionally by his restaurant’s owner, played by Dustin Hoffman.
Carl also has a beautiful ex-wife played by Sofia Vergara and a young son who yearns to spend more time with his perpetually busy and distracted father. A Twitter war gets out of hand and goes viral and Carl heads back to Miami to figure out what he wants.
He ends up with a broken-down food truck that he and his son and an LA friend restore and they begin cooking Cuban food. They drive to California, cooking and eating along the way.
There’s some rough language in Chef but no sex or violence. I loved seeing an engrossing movie that takes food and the comfort it offers seriously. It neither glorifies nor condescends to its intended audience: lovers of food and cooking.
In the closing credits is a short clip of a cook teaching Favreau how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. The care and love poured into that lowly sandwich elevated it to co-star status.
Both movies are gentle love stories between a boy and his food and along the way he discovers his family and himself.
Both are highly recommended.