Opening in European film festivals (and soon we hope in the U.S.) is a stunning new food film, Les Saveurs du Palasis, based on Daniele Delpeuch’s experiences as Francois Mitterrand’s personal palace chef.
We should say loosely based, for as always, there are additions and subtracts from the actual story. But be that as it may, you will surely be intrigued by the female lead.
We first meet Hortense Laborie, (the character based on Ms. Depeche’s amazing life) in Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica, not Paris, where she is cooking for a group of appreciative but very isolated scientists. At first glance it does not seem she could possibly have walked the glided corridors of French presidential power.
But she did and often (at least initially) without support. She was a woman unwelcomed in a professional world of men. She did not wear a towering toque nor a chef's white jacket. Yet she worked, created and finally won the respect of her many male colleagues.
It is a marvelous film - a visual feast for the eyes and with good reason. The film’s culinary presentations were created by top professionals - Chef Gérard Besson (formerly at Le Coq Héron), Chef Guy Leguay (previously at The Ritz) and Culinary Stylist/Chef Elisabeth Scotto (of Elle Magazine).
She was exactly the same age as the character, with a genuine, practical side that suited the role perfectly. Her persona is natural, believable in either a country market or a palace kitchen.
Today Daniele Delpeuch lives and teaches in her beloved Périgord region, where she promotes traditional cuisine and indigenous ingredients including truffles, truffles, truffles – oh, how we love them.
If you are in France, consider studying with her – you will marvel at the dishes you create and the conversations you will have.
But whether or not, your feet land on French soil, be sure to see this film when it comes to your neighborhood. It truly captures the spirit, the flame and flavor that is the craft and magic of French cuisine.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2012