Haute cuisine (2012) follows the culinary journey of Hortense Laborie from the Presidential Private Kitchen all the way to a remote research station in Antarctica.
Without a doubt, Haute Cuisine’s A-lister is food. Close-ups of its preparation and presentation, you can’t help but savour the wonderful dishes Laborie and her crew serve.
The President searches beyond the city, deep into the country to find Laborie and her rustic-style cooking that give him the nostalgia no sugar roses ever could. From the distant Antarctic, workers feel comforted by her food. In these two completely different yet similarly isolating locations, Laborie find a way to make them feel at home.
Laborie references her roots constantly. Learning how to cook from her mother and grand-mother, naming dishes after her relatives and insisting that the ingredients be sourced locally from the president’s hometown and her own farm. This ideal emulates French pride in regional identity, which make up Parkhurst Ferguson’s concept of Culinary Nationalism (2010). We see this through concepts such as terroir, and the coveted AOC.
Culinarily speaking, viewers see contrast between Laborie and the predominantly masculine presence in the Presidential Main Kitchen. Laborie embodies the motherly figure. She shows love through her dishes. Watching her food be served, checking to see if the plate is empty. It’s not to say she sees herself less capable chef than those brandishing the MOF collars (although they may think otherwise), but it’s clear that she cares about how people respond to her food more so than flaunting technical culinary skills.
(Photos credit, except orechiette image: IMDB)