Tag: food interview

My Food Interview With The Cast Of “The Hundred Foot Journey” Movie

My Food Interview With The Cast Of “The Hundred Foot Journey” Movie

Sometimes life throws little surprises on your lap.  A few weeks ago I was asked if I would like to interview the cast of The Hundred Foot Journey and that cast included Dame Helen Mirren.  Being that this movie is based around food, and I am a huge film fanatic, I jumped at the chance!  I had lived vicariously through my Mother as she read the book a few years ago and I was now anxiously awaiting the release of the film when I was asked to do the interview.  I had no idea how gorgeous the food and story were going to translate to the big screen, but it is a sight to behold on all levels.  From food that looks like it was created in the heavens to a stellar cast of great performances to a solid funny, touching story that will be considered a classic food-film for years to come.  It will be in theaters this Friday, I highly suggest you go and see it.  In the meantime here are a few things the cast had to say about their food experience with the movie.

Question: How much food training?  What kind of training did you go through for the film to master the tricks of the trade from an appearance stand point?

Helen Mirren /Madame Mallory:  No I did not. Luckily I didn’t have to cook in the film. I just had to break some eggs at one point.  I don’t break the shells the ‘official’ chef way, but I have seen people break an egg like that with one hand and I had practiced that way prior to filming.  Then of course the chefs on the set said “Oh no, we would never break the eggs that way, we would bang two eggs together.”  I did it for theatrical purposes with one hand.  I did though observe a chef in beverly hills for a few nights to watch the kitchen run and it was like a beautiful ballet.  Like a beautifully oiled machine.  Quiet, absolutely silent. Maybe a little bit of talking, but it was absolutely fascinating.

Charlotte Le Bon /Marguerite: I did culinary classes with Manish in a restaurant in the area where we were shooting for a couple of hours, then after that I went to a friend’s restaurant in Paris and watched the chef for two nights.  For sure I am not a great cook and I will never be able to make good food.  So I don’t care about learning to cook a ham. It’s more about gestures and being a leader in the kitchen.  That was the most interesting part was the way the chefs I observed moved, and how they would yell at people.

Manish Dayal /Hassan: In pre-production I did a lot of in the kitchen training.  I had to really understand how things were done in a French kitchen vs. an Indian kitchen.  In an Indian kitchen you’re just trying to get the job done, you move wherever you need to move to get the dish cooked the best possible way.  Where as in a French kitchen there is a very very specific hierarchy, there are rules, you have to know where your skills are, by knowing your skills you know where you are in the kitchen physically.  No one crosses each other in a French Kitchen.  There is always a way to stand to be out of the next persons way.  It sort of functions like a puzzle, with very stiff movements.  And an Indian kitchen isn’t like that, everyone is moving around trying to get the job done.

Question: Tell us about the omelet?  Did you actually get to cook that?

Manish Dayal /Hassan:  It’s my Dad’s recipe.  Oh I cooked it!  And they had some French cooking consultants on the set and they were horrified.  They couldn’t believe how I was preparing it, what I was adding to it.  They were in shock.  The way to make that scene important was to make it my omelet.  It couldn’t be a proper french omelet, or it wouldn’t fit the story.  My father’s secret to an omelet is milk.  It takes longer to cook, but makes the eggs flakey.

Question: What is your favorite food memory?

Manish Dayal /Hassan:  My Mom’s cooking.  If there were three things in front of me, I could always tell you which one my Mom cooked, just by the way it tastes.  She makes rice and dal, and my favorite memory is she would put lots of peanuts in it!  I would eat just that as a kid.

Charlotte Le Bon /Marguerite: Yeah, but it’s usually very bad food.  Like kids food.  I don’t know why but kids love to eat tasty food, and tasty food is always bad food.  I think of the hamburgers my father use to make where the meat, when I was still eating meat, was almost raw in the middle.  Or the foods my grandma makes and still does, It’s the odors… odors are the best souvenirs.

Helen Mirren /Madame Mallory:  My mother was not a great great cook, but she was a good cook, and she made several signature dishes.  She made these wonderful ‘piroshki’ cabbage pies.  And actually chocolate, chocolate is an incredibly memorable thing for me, because I didn’t eat chocolate at all because I grew up in England after the second world war, and had never had chocolate until I was about 7 years old.  My first taste of chocolate was pretty amazing and I never quite forgotten it.  More than the taste of it was the smell of it.  I love milk chocolate.

Question: Were you a cook prior to starring in this film?

Manish Dayal /Hassan: You know I wasn’t. I knew basic things like how to make eggs. One thing I did know how to do well is BBQ because my Dad is a big griller.  I would always watch him do that, so I kinda picked it up a little bit.

Charlotte Le Bon /Marguerite: I don’t cook a lot. I’m kinda lazy actually. I’m a vegetarian too. I do cook to impress when I’m having guests over.  I’ll make risotto and fancy pastas.  Lots of parmesan.  They never come out like I want them to.

Helen Mirren /Madame Mallory:  My great cooking secret is my showtime grill.  It’s genius.  I saw it on an infomercial one night and got my credit card out.  The showtime grill arrived and it’s fantastic.  You can not go wrong.  It’s the most wonderful, wonderful thing.  I can’t say enough about the Showtime grill.  Aside from cooking chicken on my grill I love making soup, because it is an endlessly changing thing.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY arrives in theaters everywhere on August 8th!

My food interview with the sensational, inspirational –     Kim Deal of The Breeders/Pixies. Yup, I said food interview!

My food interview with the sensational, inspirational – Kim Deal of The Breeders/Pixies. Yup, I said food interview!

I don’t remember the year exactly…. It might have have been 1991 or 1992, the Pixies were playing a private show for Halloween here in Los Angeles at a club that was called 1970’s on Highland.  I found out about it because KROQ was giving away  tickets to listeners. Like many, I tried winning some but my phone was never the 106th caller.  Turns out, at the last minute a family friend of a friend knew somebody at the club and I was able to get into the show.  Due to overcrowding and my moxie, I ended up sitting on top of Kim’s amp as she played the show.  It wasn’t like I just jumped up there right before the show started, I was being smashed on the stairwell and made eye contact with her.  I motioned to her with a sad face if I could sit on her amp and she said “yes.”  Fast forward 20 years and who would have thought I would be talking with Kim about frijoles and tortillas?

She is an L.A. resident (temporary) these days and living not too far from me, so we met at her place.  Kim Deal is a busy gal with a full calendar, in a little over a month she will embark on a Pixies US tour called ‘Lost Cities’ performing the classic ‘Doolittle’ album.  She is also in the studio making new music for her own band.  Kim has been hailed as one of rocks most influential musicians by critics and fans alike.  She was also titled the “coolest person in the world” by the Washington Post.  She is one of the most down to earth individuals with a heart of gold.  Her voice has the strength to pull you in and never let go.  Her songwriting with The Breeders is flawless….. but enough about all that music- jazz, let’s talk to Kim about her thoughts on food!

Me: When you’re home in Dayton, do you grow your own vegetable garden?

Kim: When I’m actually home in Dayton.  Now I’m going to say what regularly happens because this year was a little different…. I was gone.  Tomatoes are a big thing for me.  Home grown tomatoes.  You know the past couple of years they haven’t done well.  They haven’t turned red…. it’s a very weird thing.  They’re OHIO tomatoes, there’s just no talking about it.  We have VERY GOOD tomatoes.  Early Girls are what I like to plant so they come out first.  Then the beefsteaks,  I love those.  But their are all sorts of varieties with the cutest names.  For me the more citric acid in a tomato the better, and I like to salt them.  I put a lot of salt.  Some people like black pepper on them but I don’t.  Kelley likes black pepper.  I can obsess over tomatoes, especially the beefsteak.

Me: You’ve traveled all around the world. What is your favorite food city?

Kim: Tel Aviv.  Now they have ful medames over there.  It’s made with fava beans, garlic, lemon juice and oil.  I’m from Huber Heights, Ohio it’s a suburb of Dayton.  Think of how small that is?  The sign reads 30,000 happy people.  It’s the biggest community of brick homes.  So when I moved to Boston, I tried hummus and had no idea what it was.  It was delicious, I loved it but I had never heard of any of this stuff.  Then I went to the Middle East Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I walk in and they got this menu I start ordering, and I ordered the ful medames. OH MY GOD, IT’S SO GOOD, and all the delicious salads there.  So I begin loving these flavors.  Then I go to Tel Aviv for the first time, and I was in heaven.  Everything was so delicious.  I can’t even explain it.  I mean you could describe a dish by saying “it was so good” “Oh I like it” …. that’s all I could do.  Everything was so fresh and delicious.  I love Ful.  I love Middle Eastern food.  I love Tel Aviv.

Me: Well this question ties in with your last answer. What’s your ideal meal? If you could have ANYTHING you want…. What is it?

Kim: Mexican!  (She burst into a happy laughter)  After saying all that about Tel Aviv, now I’m saying I love Mexican food.  No, I want Mexican.  I love Mexican food and always have.  I mean I worked at Taco Bell when I was in high school as my first job.  It was the first time I ever even thought of anything called Mexican food.  You didn’t use to go out in the mid-west and get Mexican food.  There was no Taco Bell.  There were BURGERS!  I don’t even think Mexican food had hit America yet.  I remember working at Taco Bell, before it was owned by Pepsi, and everything we served was fresh.  I once served a bug from the lettuce in someone’s food because the produce came straight from the farm.  I was like “I’m sorry.”  We would grate our own cheddar cheese.  We would make the beans and meat in the back.  It was delicious.  I mean it wasn’t the Mexican food where you ground up the corn in a molcajete to make your own tortillas.  It wasn’t that for god-sakes, that’s, oh my goodness.  If I could as an ideal meal it would be tamales, enchiladas in a verde sauce not too spicy, with beans and cheese, and sour cream.  Oh I want fresh hot tortillas with some creamy guacamole and beautiful salsa. Mmmmm.

Me: When you cook or you get a hankering for cooking, what is your specialty?

Kim: I feel my specialty is opening cans.  I stumbled into something this past summer. Kelley has been saying she is trying to feed her inner body and not her inner child.  So I’ve been trying to feed my body and not my inner child.  I’ve stumbled on this thing that I cook in a skillet.  Cut veggies with a little bit of olive oil, then I add some chicken and artichokes, and right before it’s done I add spinach for it to wilt a little.  I like my eggs too.  I think I do a good egg and that’s a good stand-by food when I’m in Japan. Sometimes the menu can get scary there with fish-heads on it.

Me: What is your guilty food pleasure?

Kim: CHOCOLATE.  Everything gets TRUMPED by chocolate.  Dark.  Delicious.  Tobacco Chocolate.

Me: Who’s house do you secretly wish to be invited to for dinner?

Kim: Either Martha Stewart or Paula Deen.  Who ever is not having fish that evening. Even though I bet Martha does a good fish.  I bet Martha has all the fresh gorgeous good ingredients too.

Me: Yeah…. she has a farm.

Kim: Yeah Paula Deen probably would have too much sausage.  She would have a lot of cream.  Probably be HEAVY.  Martha Stewart.

Me: What’s a ‘must have’ backstage?

Kim: NOT AQUAFINA! NOT DISANI! I like Evian water.  Also right now when I go back there,  Fruits.  You know what’s strange, it seems like the only time I could get good vegetables, even in my life is when we go on tour, and we ask for vegetables back stage. Partly because they are all done in crudites.  Sliced up.  Once in a while they are no good because they bought the plastic container of cut veggies.  I like to have good vegetables and fruit backstage.  BUT the must have is the water, and non-alcoholic beer.  It’s like a baby bottle.  My favorite non-alcoholic beer is Beck’s, St. Pauli Girl, and Clausthaler. Those are my 3 favorites.

Me: What dessert puts a smile on your face?

Kim: I can do cheesecakes.  Oh my god!  You brought over those fucken Sprinkles cupcakes that time.  I was obsessed for those Nicole, for like a year.  I made my friend Cheryl from Los Angeles take Sprinkles Cupcakes to Ohio with her at the beginning of the summer.  I MADE her take them for my birthday.  She took a dozen I think.  It was like I was a bulimic.  I’m obsessed with those cupcakes and I had them in my room and I wasn’t sharing them with anybody.  My friend Kyle asked for one and I told him “NO.”                    I remember calling Sprinkles last year, just sitting there thinking “I wonder if they deliver?”  I called them up and asked “Can you  deliver to Ohio?”  Sprinkles lady said “No, we don’t deliver we just do dry packaging, I could send you that.”  I said “No, that’s okay.”  Then I told her “Sometimes I just sit around and think of Sprinkles Cupcakes.” She said “I think that’s one of the nicest compliments we’ve ever gotten.”                                                The RED VELVET is my favorite.                                                                                     You know who else has a dessert worthy of a smile?  Dayton has this little Dorothy Lane market that has these cookies.  They’re called Laura’s cookies.  It’s just a sugar cookie that is so darn good, and they cut them according to the season.  Flowers for spring, pumpkins for Halloween.                                                                                                 Cheesecake, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and Laura’s Sugar cookies.

Me: I hear from an excellent source that your mom is a stand out cook. What’s your favorite dish that she makes?

Kim: I don’t think she actually was a good cook, but she makes good hillbilly food.  Well my parents are from Appalachia.  So my mom will make a delicious spaghetti, you know she’ll take the pork loin or whatever.  Fry it in the bottom of a big pot till it browns.  Then she’ll add tomatoes and tomato paste.  There’s nothing in it really though.  I guess the Italians call it gravy, you know I’m use to seeing spaghetti sauce with green peppers and mushrooms the way you see it in a jar.  The way my mom makes it, she said the girl from Tali Hill taught her.  My parents lived on Tater Hallow…. Tater Holler is Potato Hallow.  She got the recipe from some lady in Tali Hill which is Italian Hill.  There’s no chunks in it or anything.  It’s just gravy.

Me: So that’s your favorite dish your mom makes is this spaghetti?

Kim: No…. Probably not.  I like her coleslaw and potato salad.  Sometimes there are pieces of fat on the pork and that grosses me out.  If she got rid of the pork pieces, but still cooked it with pork then I would like it.  What else?  She makes a good meatloaf.  Oh her cornbread!  My parents will take a big tall glass and fill it up with cornbread, then pour buttermilk over the top and swish it up then take a spoon to it.  To them that is just heaven.  I mean they will argue for days who makes better sausage gravy and bisquits.  My mom ruled with the gravy.  But when they got it wrong you should hear them (her voice goes wobbly to imitate her parents bicker) “You should have used more flour!”

Me: Do you like bacon?

Kim: Well I like bacon.  I like it crispy like when I go to Cracker Barrel or some place like that.  Evidently you are not suppose to go to Cracker Barrel because they don’t have a kind policy towards hiring gay people.  Chris Glass told me that.

Me: Black beans, Coffee beans, bean and cheese burritos… Seems like you are a closeted beaner?

Kim: Yeah, I love them.  Black beans I love them , it’s true.  I love lentils.  I have a can of progresso lentils right over there.  That’s a great dish my dad makes…. a big pot of pinto beans.  Again as long as they don’t have too much pork in them.  You know guys, they cram everything with meat.  It’s so gross.  But if he could back off,  my dad could make the best pot of pork and beans.  He told me a story the other day about cheek meat… he called it “jowel meat.”  He said they were so poor, that’s what he lived on once.  You know him and my mom will have these who can ‘out-poor’ eachother stories.  My mom always wins by the way, and dad gives it to her, because she wins.  We are talking newspaper on the inside of the wall as a heat source.  There was no refrigeration, they would put their milk in the cold creek.  They would have to go outside to get the milk.  He told me how they lived for a week off of jowel meat and pinto beans and some sort of bread product because they were poor, eating off the jowel meat.

Me: You lived in East Los Angeles for a couple of years. What did you like to eat there?

Kim: Guacamole.  I’ll tell you what was good in East Los… skirt steak-carne asada.  Also my friend Alex’s family would fry up carnitas in a big copper pot.  That was delicious. Home made meals out of people’s homes were fucken good.  Carnitas was my favorite.

Me: Are you annoyed with people obsessed with food?

Kim: I’m so not a foodie.  I’M NOT!  You know I’ll get in a Pixies tour bus and I will just want to shoot myself in the face.  The guys are talking about what they just ate, what they are going to eat,  and the meal they had yesterday.  That’s all they do is talk about food. IT’S THE WHOLE TOUR!  It’s the only conversation in the bus.  It’s the only conversation.  Joe is a huge foodie.  David loves food.  I mean we roll into a town and the tour manager, Joe, David and even Charles will be planned out.  They are the types that talk about what’s good to eat in each city.  If they’ve heard of a restaurant, they’ll have to go there.  Joe will even eat cheek meat, brains….stuff like that.  They adore it.  They don’t entertain me with tales of food, it’s just them yammering away.  I could get an omelette with cheese and a side green salad, and I’m good.

* Pixies tour starts Oct 27th and goes through Nov. 21st. Buy tickets here!

Photo taken by: Mando Lopez