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Last night I got to go to an advance screening of the upcoming No Reservations, the star-studded American version of the popular German film about love in a restaurant kitchen. I went with Food & Wine's great summer ASME (as in American Society of Magazine Editors) intern Danielle McNally, who recapped the event for everybody:
No Reservations is charming in spite of the predictable storyline (girl meets boy, they don’t like each other, they do like each other, they lose each other…). The cast is stellar: Catherine Zeta-Jones, who might not be completely believable as a star chef but has the kitchen rhythm down; Aaron Eckhart as a chef whose priority it to sing opera in the middle of service; and Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin, who is not legally supposed to be working in a restaurant but somehow does. The film also manages to casually name-drop Michelin three-star chef Alain Passard of Paris’s L’Arpège as the CZJ character’s mentor (nice) and capture the myriad feelings line cooks generally have when they say “yes chef.”
Following the screening at Tribeca Cinemas was a reception featuring hors d’oeuvres inspired by the film, as prepared by Don Pintabona, the chef at Dani in downtown Manhattan. In the film, CZJ’s specialties are “lovebirds” made with quail and a secret-ingredient saffron sauce, so Pintabona prepared spiced roast quail with saffron eggs, as well as tiramisu, which also appears in the movie. Top Chef’s Season 2 winner, Ilan Hall, who also saw the screening, told me that he thought the kitchen scenes were pretty realistic. Perhaps that’s because CZJ prepared for her role by training both in the kitchen and on the floor at the Manhattan restaurant Fiamma (the movie was shot there, and at Little Owl, too). She didn’t go unnoticed: The New York Post reported that while she was training, customers commented that the waitress looked an awful lot like Catherine Zeta-Jones, to which the actress replied, “You know what? I get that all the time.”