Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch was contentedly living in provincial France, cooking simple meals for a small restaurant, when her life took a turn that landed her as French President François Mitterand’s personal chef. It’s a Cinderella story where all the boring parts have been replaced with food—what could be better? Well, a few things apparently.
The film Haute Cuisine, directed by Christian Vincent, aims to capture Ms. Delpeuch’s journey as she transitions from serving farmers to heads of state. Filled with lavish shots of truffles and smoked salmon, all set to the backdrop of the stunning Élysée Palace, any Francophile will eat this up.
It’s when there isn’t an extreme close-up of a roast duck on screen that things get dicey. As you would expect, Delpeuch faces the ups and downs of being the new gal in the kitch'. But these confrontations with the old guard can only hold you over for so long. Besides...didn’t Chocolat already cover this?
The writers seemed to realize this, too, and attempt to supplement the story with flash-forwards to Ms. Delpeuch’s next endeavor as a cook on an Arctic expedition. Unfortunately, this only serves to boost the drear-factor.
Haute Cuisine is delicious, but not very filling. There are a few tender moments sprinkled throughout and a dash of lovely cinematography, but nothing that truly satisfies. If this had been a Food Network special, I happily would have indulged. As a 95-minute film? Check, please.
But hey, if you want some beautiful food up in your face and a pinch of French history, check it out! Haute Cuisine opens today, September 20th, in select cities.