Posts tagged #Michelin Stars

The Hundred-Foot Journey Charts a Path to More than Food

The best food films ask the viewer to consider questions beyond fixed recipes and easy menus. Rather the films with lasting value probe deeper asking why community matters and to what use talents should be put.

               Produced by  Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom at DreamWorks Studio

               Produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom at DreamWorks Studio

DreamWorks Studio has recently released just such a film: The Hundred-Foot Journey. Based on worldwide best-selling book of the same name by Richard C. Morais, the film’s producers include the Hollywood power house team of no less than Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake.  

Yet it is the value of the film itself that merits a trip to the theater. The film consists of circles of relationships that overlap between cultures and kitchens and finally the human heart.

The film begins in India where Hassan Kadam (played by Manish Dayal) learns from his mother in the family restaurant that adding spice to both food and life results in delight. But Hassan’s peaceful world is suddenly destroyed when angry members of an extremist political party smash the family’s restaurant and he sees his beloved mother die in the resulting fire.

Fleeing India’s political turmoil, the family relocates to Europe, hoping to find both peace and a new safer location for both their restaurant and their way of life. A broken car and an inspiration from above prompt the father, (played by Om Puri), to settle in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. 

There is only one problem: The location for Papa’s new Maison Mumbai restaurant is directly across the road from Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin rated restaurant. Madame Mallory, the owner, (played by Helen Mirren) is not amused to say the least. She is the embodiment of tradition, restraint, classic technique. From her point of view, here is just too much music and too many spices being used in that new 'foreign' restaurant across the lane.

Soon a feud of culinary tit-fo- tat breaks out between the two restaurants escalating in a second fire and hate graffiti on a wall. Though traditional, Madame Mallory is horrified at the violence and a tentative truce is declared between the 100 feet that separate the two restaurants (hence the name of both the book and the film).

With peace comes romance between Hassan and Madame’s sous chef, Marguerite (played by Charlotte Le Bon) and the awareness by Madame Mallory that Hassan has the potential to be a culinary great – if he adds professional culinary training. to the skills his mother taught him.

Again cultural limits are strained as Hassan’s father struggles, but finally, releases his son to the larger world of fame and fortune. Will the young chef succeed and what will be the cost? What will be the relationship between the two restaurants, between the two owners once Hassan reaches for his own Michelin stars?

The answers to these questions makes the film well seeing (and owning when available) but be assured lovers and cultures do eventually meet over the final truth of cuisine: What matters in the end is not critics’ stars or cultural superiority but rather understanding the nature of fellowship, both in kitchen and at the table.

This thoughtful film, which contains no car chases or X-rated sex scenes, offers a reminder that diversity is a gift, not a curse. Diversity provides an opportunity to learn, to change, to create a new - in short, an opportunity to widen our circle of understanding to include the whole world. 

Your Culinary World Copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel  2014

The Sudden Death of Santi Santamaria Marks the Passing of a Great Culinary Star

The culinary world is in shock as the news that Spain’s Michelin-starred Chef Santi Santamaria has died suddenly in Singapore from what is believed to possibly be a heart attack.

Santamaria, who was only 53 years old, collapsed on Tuesday, February 16th while greeting guests at the inaugural opening of his restaurant Santi at the new breath-taking Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore.

Santamaria is universally acknowledged in the culinary industry as the chef who launched Spanish and especially Catalan cuisine onto the world stage. By 1994 his Can Fabes Restaurant, located right in his own hometown of Sant Celoni, was awarded (and still retains) three Michelin stars.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Santamaria went on to open three more restaurants – Evo in Barcelona, Santceloni in Madrid and Tierra in Valdepalacios outside the Spanish capital.  Under his insightful direction, all of these restaurants have also earned their share of Michelin Stars.  

With such success, the world called and Santamaria answered opening first his stunning Ossiano Restaurant in Dubai’s Palm Island and then finally the Santi in Singapore.

Though a largely self-taught chef, Santamaria’s innate talent was legendary and sometimes controversial.  As the chef who introduced the wonders of Hispanic cuisine to the world, he declared the value of only the freshest and most natural of ingredients.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this dedication brought him directly into conflict with Spain’s other leading chef, Adria Ferran, who was also opening new doors with innovative techniques and new ingredients.

The intense verbal war between the two was finally brought to an end when Euro-Toques International (ETI), the leading organization representing Europe’s top chefs, intervened and calmed the waters between these two very talented chefs.

Despite this conflict, which represents in reality the creative diversity that is the very nature of the culinary profession, Santamaria has always been honored by his peers as one of world’s leading chefs and a beloved colleague.  On his death, such great chefs as Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Justin Quek and Tetsuya Wakuda paused and remembered their professional friend with nothing but words of high praise.   

The famed French Chef Daniel Boulud of New York City said it best when he stated,”a great friend and inspiration had been lost. He will be great missed.”

Indeed Santamaria did give the world so much – his courage, his passion, his flare as only he could.  Thank you for such great and honest gifts to us all. 

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011