TFF Review: "Haute Cuisine"

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The last thing Hortense Laborie (Catherine Frot) expected was to be called on by the president of France himself to act as his personal chef. Soon after taking the job at the Élysée Palace in Paris, she discovers that navigating the protocols imposed by the kitchen’s snobbish all-male guard is even more challenging than catering to the president’s culinary whims.
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Set at the Elysee Palace, ‘Haute Cuisine’ tells the true story of Hortense Laborie, a chef who was plucked from her successful provincial restaurant to serve as personal chef to the president of France.

Hortense quickly finds the position more challenging than expected, as she is confronted by a main kitchen that immediately resents her presence. Partly because she is a woman, and partly because she is now the most celebrated chef in the palace, the main kitchen makes an already stressful position especially challenging. Resilient and charming, she navigates her new environment to form an unexpected friendship with the president. That relationship becomes a focal point of the movie, although it feels as if the audience has been unintentionally left in the dark.

‘Haute Cuisine’ is littered with beautiful food imagery, set against the striking milieu of the historic Elysee Palace. Catherine Front delivers an engaging and sweet performance as Hortense, and despite the subtitles truly connects with the audience in a wonderful way.

Start to finish, the film feels a bit like something Nancy Meyers might create, which is one of the biggest compliments this reviewer can dish out. With that said, parts of the movie are a bit slow, and there can be moments the feel a bit like they’re lacking an energy. Overall, the movie is good--not great, sweet--not moving, and nice-but never too exciting.

3 out of 5