Monday, January 12, 2009

No Reservations

So here's my new plan for 2009: at least two nights a week I'll stay home and read or watch a DVD. It's the only way I'll ever get through the never ending pile of things I want to experience. No commitments, events or plans on these nights - just stay on top of it all. This includes "NO RESERVATIONS."

Whenever I have a stack of DVDs to choose from the first (of course) I'll always go for is the foodie-themed choice so it's no surprise I moved the 2007 film NO RESERVATIONS to the top of the heap to start the year. This one certainly appeals to foodies so if you are reading this: surprise. You qualify.

Set in the fictitious upper west side restaurant 22 Bleeker Street, the central character is food-obsessed chef Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a precise,demanding perfectionist. When forced to take some time off to tend to her newly orphaned niece in steps the freewheeling, looser-styled new chef (Aaron Eckhart), with a penchant for all things Italian including the opera music he now blares in her serious, disciplined kitchen. The staff loves it. Of course it's all set against the tear-jerker story of the poor orphan girl but it really does give one the sense of the rigors of the demanding restaurant business.

I really liked the way it covered the staff dinner, a ritual that many people don't even realize exists. Taking place in the late afternoon in most upscale restaurants, it's a chance to discuss and present new menu items, suggested wines and catch up on restaurant biz gossip before the dinner service begins. It also gives one an appreciation of all the problems involved with running a great restaurant: sourcing the best ingredients, dealing with ridiculous customers (Kate is quick tempered and handily confronts people in the way most real chefs only dream of) and never losing sight of the bottom line.

Kitchens are run by people. People with emotions. I have always said that I applaud the gutsyness of an open kitchen not so much for the exposure of technique, food handling, etc., but for daring to showcase the drama and emotional outbursts that occasionally erupt no matter how professional the kitchen.

And speaking of that, my favorite star of this movie was the kitchen! It was sparkling clean, well-appointed, organized and perfectly choreographed. Never has calling an order up seemed more like a beautiful ballet if not a total fantasy. Unless you're a foodie, or a hopeless romantic, however, this film will probably not satisfy. The rapturous sniffing of white truffle would just be lost on you.

Castle Rock Entertainment
104 Minutes


  1. I hope you've already seen "Mostly Martha," the gorgeous movie that this is a remade of. If not, run out and rent it now. I refuse to see this one, because I can't for the life of me imagine why they'd remake an already perfect gem of a movie.

  2. I hadn't seen the film, but I must see if I can download this and maybe post a short clip. Truffle sniffing sounds just great with me.

  3. It's not as fun as RATATOUILLE and certainly nowhere near BABETTE'S FEAST but you've both got good ideas.

  4. We loved No Reservations! If only truffles were easier to come by and less expensive, we too would be world renowned chefs in NYC!