This charming, funny and compulsively readable novel is a delicious tale of restaurant rivalry, the desperate quest for Michelin Stars and the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French restaurant in Paris.
'I have never experienced that most subtle of senses - smell - captured so well in print. The aroma of fine cooking just floats off the pages. Don't read this book if you're hungry. You might eat it.' - Simon Beaufoy, Oscar-Award-winning screenwriter, Slumdog Millionaire
Abbas Haji is the proud owner of a modest family restaurant in Mumbai. But when tragedy strikes, Abbas propels his boisterous family into a picaresque journey across Europe, finally settling in the remote French village of Lumiere, where he establishes an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai.
Much to the horror of their neighbour, a famous chef named Madame Mallory, the Indian establishment opposite her own begins to garner a following. Little does she know that the young Hassan, son of Abbas, has discovered French cuisine and has vowed to become a great French chef. Hassan is a natural whose talents far outweigh Mme. Mallory, but the tough old Frenchwoman will not brook defeat.
Thus ensues an entertaining culinary war pitting Hassan's Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Mme. Mallory, leading the young Hassan to greatness and his true destiny.
This vivid, hilarious and charming novel - about how just a small distance of a hundred feet can represent the gulf between different cultures, different people, their tastes and their destinies - is simply bursting with eccentric characters, delicious flavours and high emotion.
''Outstanding! A completely engaging human story heavily larded with the lushest, most high-test food porn since Zola. Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking - and absolutely thrilling from beginning to end. I wished it went on for another 300 pages' ' - Anthony Bourdain
About the Author
Richard C. Morais has been a senior editor at Forbes for over twenty years and was once the magazine's European bureau chief. He grew up in Europe, was an actor before becoming a journalist, and is well connected in the media and film communities. A longtime friend of the late Ismail Merchant, the venerable producer behind Merchant and Ivory Productions, he and Ismail Merchant used to enjoy lavish meals together and had always dreamed of collaborating on a project that would join their shared love of food with Richard's desire to write and Ismail's film experience. The Hundred-Foot Journey is the result of Richard's promise to write a book about food which Ismail could make into a film. And although Ismail passed away before the project came to fruition, film rights have been sold (details to come).
The Hundred-Foot Journey is immensely likeable, and immensely readable. The eponymous hundred feet is the distance between two restaurants in a small mountain village in France. One is an elegant, refined, two-hatted establishment run by the stern and obsessed spinster (and there is no other word to describe her) Gertrude Mallory. The other is the new, noisy and rather vulgar Indian restaurant across the street, run by Abbas Haji, who has left Mumbai after sectarian violence tears his world apart. The bridge between the two worlds turns out to be Haji's son, Hussan, whose talents as a chef will take him places that neither proprietor will ever go.
In fact, The Hundred-Foot Journey is about cultural differences and reconciliations (of sorts) - the things that keep us apart, and the the things that bring us together. It is as evocative of Mumbai as it is of Paris. The discussions of food are endlessly interesting, as are the insights into the restaurant culture of Paris and the cliques that determine the fates of the very top echelons of chefs. The characters are full of life, marvellously eccentric but at the same time grounded in reality. While it celebrates both Indian and French culture, it never strays into kitsch. As for the role of food in this book - suffice to say it just makes you want to get into the kitchen and turn out something special for those whom you love.
This is a life affirming book all about food, family and joy.
Praise for The Hundred-Foot Journey:
“Outstanding! A completely engaging human story heavily larded with the lushest, most high-test food porn since Zola. Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking –and absolutely thrilling from beginning to end. I wished it went on for another three hundred pages.”
–Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
“Morais, formerly a senior editor and foreign correspondent at Forbes, has done his research. The novel is seeded with delightful arcana, like a recipe for rat from an old edition of Larousse Gastronimique, which advises using a specimen found in a wine cellar (‘so much more flavorful.’) The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”
–The New York Times
“A gorgeous novel, vivid and intimate, tracing a journey from kitchen to kitchen, from culture to culture, with a perfect touch.”
–Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
“Hilarious romp through life, love and the workings of a French kitchen.” – O, Magazine (best summer reads of 2010)
“This tale of restaurant rivalry and a desperate quest for Michelin Stars is beautifully told. From India to France, Richard Morais takes his eccentric characters and mouth-watering recipes on an unlikely journey from the teeming streets of Mumbai to a quiet village in rural France. I have never experienced that most subtle of senses–smell–captured so well in print. The aroma of fine cooking just floats off the pages. Don’t read this book if you’re hungry. You might eat it.”
–Simon Beaufoy, Oscar-award winning screenwriter, Slumdog Millionaire
“The Hundred-Foot Journey has great charm and is colorfully written, sensual and evocative.”
–Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
“A delicious culinary romp from the beaches of Bombay to the peaks of Paris Haute Cuisine. Very charming and a delight to savor.”
–Padma Lakshmi, author of Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet and host of Bravo TV’s Top Chef
“A page-turner that captures the extent to which nostalgia and imagination are a part of the craft of cooking, while vividly conjuring the sights and smells of the kitchen. In The Hundred-Foot Journey food isn’t just a theme, it’s a main character.”
–Tom Colicchio, Chef/ Owner Craft restaurants
“In The Hundred Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais conjures a richly-woven tapestry of exotic sights, smells and tastes that transports the reader to a world of epicurean delights. This is a charming, deeply felt novel that questions, and ultimately celebrates, the twists and turns of an authentically lived life.”
– Elin Hilderbrand, author of Barefoot
“Delicious fairy tale-like read.”
– National Public Radio.
“Cooking and writing at a high level require great passion–exactly the kind of passion Richard Morais has poured into The Hundred-Foot Journey, the story of an Indian boy who discovers he has an extraordinary gift for cooking.”
–Michael Ruhlman, author of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
“Hassan Haji’s tone of voice is something of a masterpiece, cosmopolitan but not entirely European either. And the quest for the Michelin stars is a real cliff-hanger. For anyone who loves food, and who cares for character, the book’s a banquet. Lovely stuff. What a superb Merchant Ivory Production movie it would have made.”
–Simon Callow, actor (Four Weddings And A Funeral) and author of Orson Welles: The Road To Xanadu.
“With his debut novel, longtime Forbes magazine correspondent Morais delves into a rich, imagery-filled culinary world that begins in Bombay and ends in Paris, tracing the career of Hassan Haji as he becomes a famed Parisian chef. From vibrantly depicted French markets and restaurant kitchens to the lively and humorously portrayed Haji family, Morais engulfs the reader in Hassan’s wondrous world of discovery. Regardless of one’s relationship with food, this novel will spark the desire to wield a whisk or maybe just a knife and fork.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Precise descriptive writing offers much to savor in this bouillabaisse of a first novel from a former Forbes editor.”
“This novel, of mythic proportions yet told with truly heartfelt realism, is a stunning tribute to the devotion of family and food, in that order. Bound to please anyone who has ever been happily coaxed to eat beyond the point of fullness, overwhelmed by the magnetism of ‘just one more bite.’”
– Booklist (starred review)
“At times it reminds me of Salman Rushdie and Naguib Mahfouz, of Julia Child and Madhur Jaffrey, and more importantly, of my friends Pritti, Sheneza and Ejaz and their amazing families and recipes. I absolutely loved The Hundred-Foot Journey. It also made me very hungry.”- Forbes.com
“When you start reading The Hundred-Foot Journey [you] find yourself mesmerized by the inventiveness of the story and the writer’s ability to cook up tantalizing aromas on paper.”
–The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Hundred-Foot Journey is a buzzing banquet that will linger in your memory long after the last page is turned.” –BookPage
“A delectable treat.” –Philadelphia CityPaper
“Morais’s research into both French and Indian cultures and cuisines and into professional kitchens has been rigorous, making for a vivacious backdrop to an engaging tale of love and loss; even as his esteemed mentors die off, Hassan strives for culinary excellence. It’s a story about culture-crossing, a struggle for perfection and also for independence.” — Time Out London
“Morais layers his narrative with enough colors, flavors, sounds, smells, and textures to tantalize all five senses. The Hundred-Foot Journey is not just about cooking, but about the clash of cultures—and how in the end, exceptional food bridges all barriers. It’s not often a book can be described as sumptuous, but that’s precisely what this tasty morsel of a novel is.” –– Travel + Leisure
“The Hundred-Foot Journey [is] a novel of remarkable insight and sensuality.”- Gael Greene, The Insatiable Critic
“An exquisite piece of literary gastroporn. I mean this in the best possible way. You read this first novel at the peril of your gut.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 1st December 2010
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Dimensions (cm): 18.3 x 13.7 x 2.500
Weight (kg): 0.32