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Movie review: Chef's battles with officialdom simmer in 'Haute Cuisine'

Published October 4, 2013 11:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If you want a deep-dish movie about food and French politics, "Haute Cuisine" is merely an amuse-bouche, but a tasty one.

In this lightly fictionalized version of a true story, Catherine Frot stars as Hortense Laborie, a renowned chef in the Perigord region of France.

In the early 1990s, Laborie is summoned to Paris and appointed personal chef to the president, François Mitterrand (played by the novelist Jean d'Ormesson), who wants authentic home cooking instead of the fancified "haute cuisine" produced by the Palace Élysée's main kitchen. Assigned one young sous chef (Albert Dupont), Laborie impresses Mitterrand with her food — but ruffles feathers among the complacent, and sexist, palace staff.

Director Christian Vincent and co-writer Etienne Comar aim to create some tension by juxtaposing Laborie's palace experience with her stint cooking for a research outpost near Antarctica, for a contrast between haughty officialdom and roughneck appreciation.

The main joys of the film come from Frot's warm performance as the no-nonsense cook and Vincent's loving treatment of the sumptuous food.

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'Haute Cuisine'

Opens Friday, Oct. 4, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for brief strong language; in French with subtitles; 95 minutes.