Interview: Pierre Richard
Interview: Nino Kirtadze
Immediately he is transported to another world. What he reads draws him into three decades worth of recollections of a naive and rustic land, as well as an era that has been lost forever. It is an account of a rich and bountiful earth, which provokes mouth-watering memories of farms and inns serving simple country food capable of appeasing the most voracious appetites.
The manuscript also reveals to Anton the unsuspected love affair that blossoms between Pascal and Cecilia after they share a compartment and a meal on a train bound for Tbilisi. Anton follows the couples fantastic peregrinations through their amazing meeting with the Georgian President, who is saved form assassination by Pascal's infallible sense of smell, as well as the grand opening of Pascal's French restaurant, the New Eldorado, which signals a new chapter in the legend of Pascal, the French chef of Tbilisi. His culinary inventiveness knows no bounds, each dish is more stunning than the previous one, as his talent is fueled by his love for Cecilia. Combining his ardor, know-how, extravagance, culture and imagination, the Chef in love performs a new miracle each day: refined appetizers, the intoxicatingly prepared wild game, invigorating meat dishes, fish topped with creamy sauces, tender fowl that melts in the mouth, smooth cheeses and majestic cakes, all creating harmonious and unforgettable gastronomic symphonies which attract people from all around the world. In the kitchen, Pascal is the unquestioned master, he rants, juggles, poeticizes, and scolds his enthralled staff, riding from success to culinary success. Any jealousy Cecilia might feel towards the ingredients of Pascal's cuisine is swept away by the fact that his creativity is as powerful in the bedroom as the kitchen...
But suddenly, their dreams are shattered as the revolution in neighboring Russia sweeps into Georgia and the Red Army marches into Tbilisi. Despite Cecilia's pleading, Pascal refuses to leave the country. Keen to taste the forbidden fruits of capitalism, the troops flock to the New Eldorado, a temple of gastronomy which once played host to the world's finest gourmets. Now forced to cater to unsophisticated military leaders who dont appreciate his genius, Pascal takes his revenge with exquisite subtlety. But he incurs the wrath of a young officer, Zigmund Gogoladze, who has also fallen in love with Cecilia and brutally forces her to marry him in order to save Pascal.
Having already been banned from the restaurant, Pascal is now chased from the kitchen and consigned to the buildings attic. Cecilia, who is pregnant with his child, manages to slip away to visit Pascal for a few fleeting moments of happiness, but their love cannot shield them from the evils of the outside world. The chef refuses to admit that he is beaten, however.
Convinced that he can still honor his art, Pascal decides to initiate the illiterate army cook who has replaced him in the mysterious delights of gastronomy. His recipes, lovingly collected together by Cecilia, are destined to become Pascal Ichac's posthumous masterpiece, long after he has chosen the only way out for a free and proud man. Tragedy also strikes Cecilia, who, because she refuses to let go of the memory of her great love, dies at her jealous husband's hand in the early 1940s, ten years after the affair.
Back in present-day Paris, Anton has finished the manuscript and grasped the implications of its tale-- that his father was not, as he always thought, the humorless Zigmund Gogoladze, but his mothers true love, Pascal. All that remains is to celebrate in worthy fashion his newfound identity and the memory of the father he never knew. Marcelle and he sit down to share a succulent, beautifully roasted golden fowl. Let the feast begin...