The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
The Hundred-foot Journey is the story of Hassan Haji, a boy from Mumbai who embarks, along with his boisterous family, on a picaresque journey first to London and then across Europe, before they ultimately open a restaurant opposite a famous chef, Madame Mallory, in the remote French village of Lumiere. A culinary war ensues, pitting Hassan’s Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Michelin-starred cordon bleu, until Madame Mallory realizes that Hassan is a cook with natural talents far superior to her own.
Full of eccentric characters, hilarious cultural mishaps, vivid settings and delicious meals described in rich, sensuous detail, Hassan’s charming account lays bare the inner workings of the elite world of French haute cuisine, and provides a life-affirming and poignant coming-of-age tale.
This novel follows young Indian boy Hassan Haji from his early life in India with his rather eccentric family, to London, across Europe and finally to France in pursuit of fame and fortune in the world of haute cuisine. Told in the first person, it is full of interesting characters and very detailed descriptions of his hard working life as a chef. It vividly describes every aspect of both Indian and French restaurants and, of course, the food.
The turning point in Hassan’s career occurs when Madame Mallory, a cantankerous chef who tries to drive their family out of business when they open an Indian restaurant directly opposite her high class French restaurant, ends the “war” between them and offers Hassan a job. He takes “The One Hundred Foot Journey” across the road and begins the hard work as her apprentice. After several years he moves to Paris and eventually opens his own restaurant and becomes well known and respected. His skill and hard work earn him the great honour of three Michelin stars.
An interesting coming of age tale with a journalistic insight into the life of a chef in the top echelons of haute cuisine.
Read by Dundas Readers Book Club