The Kadam family had a restaurant in India and the son, Hassan, is being groomed by mom and dad to be the next chef. The restaurant gets fire bombed as a result of election riots and they try to take asylum in England. They struggle a bit in London and decide to move to the European mainland. On the drive, the van breaks down and they are shown kindness by Marguerite. She feeds the wayward family some chaud-froid, pate and other goodies from the French larder and they are amazed at the quality of the food. Unbeknownst to them, she works at the local Michelin establishment “Le Saule Pleureur” as a cook.
The father, Papa Kadam, sees opportunity in this small mountain town. The market has great raw ingredients, there is no Indian restaurant and there is a vacant restaurant space located right next to the high end establishment. So, poof, he buys the vacant space and puts up an Indian restaurant. Now I know that movies are willing suspensions of disbelief, but in all my years of shaking pans; I have never witnessed a restaurant deal go so smoothly and quickly…..
What comes next, is the bitter rivalry between France and India. They do a bit of sabotage to each other and eventually come to terms with being neighbors. Turns out that Hassan has potential beyond butter chicken and lands a job at Le Saule Pleureur. Soon after, they get their second Michelin star…..crazy, because it took me over 10 years of hardcore study to get the smallest understanding of the French discipline. I wish I was a chef in the movies.
Hassan moves to Paris and woos the clientele at a new modernist restaurant, gets 3 stars and decides to move back to the small town and get 3 stars for Le Saule Pleureur. Just like that.
Nowadays, 3 stars are tossed out as first reviews; if you pay off the right people. Back in the day – you toiled, worked and earned the stars over time. Now – you hire the right designers, have the Prada chef coat, pose for photos like you are posing for a Russ Meyer film poster and I’m pretty sure 3 stars are in your future. I have been to enough 3 star places since the “the guide” left Europe and more often than not I’ve felt violated rather than elated. Things change, sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse.
Screenplay: Steven Knight (based upon book by Richard C. Morais)