Common themes in this movie-father/son issues, love, self doubt, tradition in the face of new ideas, ego and the like all make for a nice little piece. The story unfolds like this. Samir is a sous chef at a high end NY eatery and has dreams of moving up to the next level. When he is passed over and the job given to someone else he impetuously quits. (Funny cameo by the mayhem guy from those Allstate advertisements). He tells his future love interest and co-worker (Carrie) that he is off to France to hang with the big guns.
Dreams fade fast as the plans to go to France are derailed when his estranged father has a heart attack. Samir now finds himself having to take over the family curry house called Tandoori Palace (in Jackson Heights). Though he is Indian he has little affinity and zero knowledge of the cuisine. Couple this with the constant hounding of his mother (played by master Indian chef Madhur Jaffrey) to find a women and get married, Samir is swimming in waters that are very unsettling.
After some funny scenes of kitchen mess-ups, fights with the staff and customers he meets Akbar, a passionate chef, traveler and NY City cabbie and soothsayer. A relationship develops between them and Akbar begins to teach Samir that life as well as cooking needs to be experienced with all your senses. Learn to be aware and open to whats happening and the correct path will appear. In essence-trust the process (a theme that constantly crops up in my life as well-hmmm). Akbar dances around the kitchen to his music, assembling dishes with the use of his spice kit.
Along the way he runs into Carrie and his fumbling courtship begins. Over time the restaurant gets refurbished, Samir gets his game on, Carrie helps him in the kitchen and there is a nice fusion of what he learned in the NY City eatery and what Akbar has taught him.
Funny personal story. In the early days of my cooking career I found myself working for Scott Bryan in NYC. Scott cooks very instinctually where everything is made ala minute or to order. To cook like this is great fun but very challenging when you are just starting out. Your timing and awareness for whats happening have to be spot on. During one service I found myself crashing and burning. I could not get my shit together-over reduced pan sauces, bad timing in relation to the other cooks in the kitchen-those who have shaken pans will understand. Scott came up to me with his tilted head cantor and says “Dude, don’t think, cook”. Good lesson there-I suddenly was released and the next days business I was dancing behind the line. I fell into flow and took a step forward in my development as a chef.
I have been given some great cooking advice over the years by some of the most talented people in the business.I began to see parallels in cooking and living a full life. Like Akbar taught Samir I began to understand that life is not abut perfect measurements but about trusting the process
Writers: Aasif Mandvi, Jonathan Bines