'Haute Cuisine' tells the story of Francois Mitterand's personal chef

'Haute Cuisine' tells the story of Francois Mitterand's personal chef

Steve Salles, Standard-Examiner movie critic - October 4th, 2013
2 stars

“Haute Cuisine” is guaranteed to make your tummy rumble (if you haven’t eaten), as it features various delectable French recipes prepared by an accomplished chef for the president of France.

Although it is based on the true story of Daniele Delpeuch, Catherine Frot plays a fictitious chef Hortense Laborie, commissioned by then-French President Francois Mitterrand to cook for him from the private kitchen inside the Palace of Elysee.

She is just a country woman who happens to love traditional French cooking, and that’s exactly what the president is looking for. She agrees to come onboard as long as she has complete control of the recipes and presentation.

She will run afoul of the snooty chefs in the main kitchen who are outraged that this upstart French tart will have the honor of serving the president and his honored guests, while they serve cafeteria style to the rest of the massive staff.

Her insistence on excellence is her main objective, and she will go to great lengths to keep the president well-fed.

But throughout the movie, we get snippets of her now working in Antarctica as a chef for the French scientists. Why did she leave such a cushy job in the Palace to toil in subzero weather half a world away? It’s all explained, but not to great satisfaction, as the South Pole scenes only take time away from the best part of the movie, which is her interaction with the food-loving president.

It’s an interesting film that could have been more focused.

REVIEW

  • THE FILM: 'Haute Cuisine'
  • STARRING: Catherine Frot, Arthur Dupont, Jean d’Ormesson, Hippolyte Girardot and Jean-Marc Roulot.
  • BEHIND THE SCENES: Co-written and directed by Christian Vincent (“Quatre etoiles,” “La separation”); filmed in France and Iceland. Loosely based on the memoirs of Daniele Delpeuch, the first and only female chef to work in the private kitchen of French President Mitterrand. In French with subtitles.
  • PLAYING: Broadway Centre in Salt Lake City. Runs 95 minutes.
  • MPAA RATING: PG-13 for brief strong language.

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