Papa (Om Puri), a restaurateur in India, flees his homeland, with his family, after his business has been destroyed during a political upheaval. After a stint in England, they meander through Europe, plying their trade, until their vehicle’s brakes fail in France. Seeking shelter for the night, they walk into a nearby town, passing what had once been a restaurant.
The next day, Papa, claiming his dead wife told him that there’s a reason why brakes fail, decides that their travels are over. They go to inspect the vacant property, and are surprised by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), who accuses them of trespassing. Madame Mallory, caretaker of the vacant restaurant, as well as owner of the one-star Michelin restaurant across the street, engages Papa in banter which includes pithy witticisms, observations and interesting non answer answers by Papa. He overcomes family arguments, purchases the property, and installs his son, Hassan (Manish Dayal), as his cook.
Hassan casually meets Madame Mallory’s sous-chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), and a friendship blossoms between them, even as culinary warfare intensifies between the restaurants. Madame Mallory, after tasting an omelet prepared by Hassan, negotiates with Papa about hiring away his son. The feelings between Hassan and Marguerite cool as they become kitchen competitors, and absolutely chill when Hassan becomes head chef. Book a table at your favorite restaurant for dinner after the movie. Four stars. (Reviewed by Ron)
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