As a kid, I remember being on summer holiday in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The whole tribe went out to see this movie and even at the tender age of 9, I was fascinated by the cooking scenes. I remember thinking how big the professional kitchens looked and how cool it was that they pressed a duck carcass to extract blood for a sauce. It didn’t freak me out, but instead made me wonder what it must taste like.
Many years later, while eating at Lucas Carton, I tasted venison cooked in sea grass with a sauce made from its blood. I remembered the scene in the movie and how I felt, as a kid, watching that. I love it when those emotional-historical connections are made.
Natasha O’Brien is a big time pastry chef who gets invited to cook by Maximillian Vandeveer (a fat glutton of a food critic), to cook for the Queen. The assemblage of chefs and their signature dishes are the content of his most recent publication, which he gloats about. His indulgence will bring him to an early grave if he does not change his lifestyle….
One-by-one, the featured chefs begin to die deaths that relate to the dishes that they create: Chef Louis Kohner (renowned for his pigeon baked-in-crust) finds himself dead in a 450 degree oven; Chef Fausto Zoppi ( who cooks lobster) is found dead in his lobster tank and Chef Moulineau (who makes the pressed duck) is put head-first into his duck press.
Eventually the connection is made, that ever chef that is featured in the magazine, is being murdered, but who is doing it????
Some of the cooking scenes are pretty cool. In a demonstration, Chef Natasha (played by Jacqueline Bisset-in a chef’s coat-schwing!) makes her famous cake Le’ Bombe Richelieu; where cognac is ignited creating a dramatic presentation. But…will she fall prey to the nefarious forces that are killing these great chefs?
It sounds gruesome but it actually has many comedic elements woven into the story. The egos of the chefs are hilarious. Being killed for your signature dish, is a better fate than not being recognized as having a dish worthy to be killed for. To a chef, this seems logical; at least it does to me.
Written: Peter Stone
Directed: Ted Kotcheff
USA/ West Germany
RECIPE: BUTTER BRAISED ESCARGOT