In The Hundred-Foot Journey, which opens this Friday, Helen Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the proprietress of a Michelin-starred French restaurant who tries to drive away the Indian eatery that opens down the street.
In a turn of events, Madame learns to respect the talented young, home-taught Indian chef, Hassan Kadam (played by Manish Dayal), and eventually takes him under her wing. The result is a feel-good tale of cultures clashing before ultimately colliding into friendship, and is accompanied by a visual smörgåsbord of classic French dishes infused with Indian spices and spirit—think beef Bourguignon reimagined with cumin and ginger—that whet the appetite and the mind.
Though all the restaurants featured in “The Hundred-Food Journey” exist only in celluloid or on the page (the film is based on Richard S. Morais’s 2010 novel of the same name), the film’s producers brought in consultants to make sure all the actors could pass for authentic cooks. Meanwhile, Floyd Cardoz, the former executive chef at New York’s North End Grill, created all the dishes seen on screen.
Fusion cuisine—cooking that incorporates and blends the flavor profiles and methods of different culinary traditions—is no longer a new concept but rather a common feature of contemporary cuisine. Today, foodies delight in a successful new iteration of an otherwise classical dish, whereby a successful chef is able to stamp a new point of view on the food world’s terrain. Indeed, Celebrity Cruises’ own Murano restaurant specializes in contemporary French cuisine, serving diners a sophisticated dining experience featuring modern updates on French classics.
A Murano customer favorite is the sautéed Muscovy duck breast, which is accompanied by a crispy, spiced duck-leg confit, an almond-crusted French toast and a raisin-apple compote au jus. While the large duck may be native to Mexico and South America the preparation is distinctly French with the introduction of aromatic flavors from the Orient, which elevate the flavor profile of the dish.
The five-spice crusted Cervena venison loin with a celery root fondant, wilted spinach, red cabbage marmalade and a lingonberry sauce is just as worldly. Here, tender New Zealand venison is crusted in a primarily Chinese spice blend before being prepared with French cooking elements and topped with a sauce made from Scandinavian berries.
Like the upcoming film, Celebrity Cruises’ Murano demonstrates how traditional dishes can be developed by introducing influences from the proverbial melting pot of the world’s cuisine.
To help celebrate the premiere of “The Hundred-Food Journey,” Le Cordon Bleu recently released several of its own Indian-French inspired recipes.