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Originally published Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 3:05 PM

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‘Haute Cuisine’: As tasty as a food movie should be

A review of the movie “Haute Cuisine,” which is based on the true story of Hortense Laborie, a Frenchwoman who cooked for her country’s president.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Haute Cuisine,’ with Catherine Frot, Jean d’Ormesson, Hippolyte Girardot, Arthur Dupont, Jean-Marc Roulot. Directed by Christian Vincent, from a screenplay by Vincent and Étiene Comar. 93 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Varsity.

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Not much happens in “Haute Cuisine,” a film based on a true story about a Frenchwoman who cooked for her country’s president. Hortense Laborie (Catherine Frot), possessed of a fiery elegance and a habit of wearing elaborate jewelry with her athletic wear, leaves her small town to serve as the president’s private cook at the Élysée Palace. She makes delicious meals, squabbles mildly with the resentful male chefs of the palace’s Main Kitchen, says a few wise things about food, eventually leaves for another job — and that’s that.

And that’s pretty much enough. “Haute Cuisine” has no grand conflict or important message or really anything much that you’ll remember past dinnertime, but it has abundant charm and it leaves you hungry, which is all we ask of a food movie. (That, and lines like “Concentrate on your crumble!,” as Madame Laborie admonishes a young pastry chef.) Frot, who looks at home slicing truffles, brings a lovely aplomb to her character; you never doubt that Madame Laborie (who has no personal life in this film; she lives for the kitchen) will do, and cook, the right thing.

Along the way, we learn a salamander is a sort of toaster, that salmon wrapped in cabbage is strangely lovely, and that somehow, under Madame Laborie’s specifications, cream cheese makes a fine dessert. “Haute Cuisine” is just a snack, but it’s a sweet one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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