Cast of Characters:
Napoleon – Husband of Ambrosia, rival to Alfredo
Basil – Martini’s boyfriend
Mrs. Coco – Richest woman on the island
Once upon a time on a tiny island lived a beautiful, passionate, gregarious woman named Martini whose greatest loves in life were great food; fraud-busting; and seeking to find a man she could have a happy romantic relationship with. She was the beloved social glue of the island, known and loved by all.
At the estate on top of the island lived the world’s greatest chef – Alfredo. He was in a state of withdrawal from the world nursing the wound of having lost the love of his life – the best woman he’d ever met – Ambrosia – who was the person best able to appreciate and enjoy his gastronomical creations. They were engaged 25 years ago in France. Without someone as appreciative and sensitive as Ambrosia, Alfredo did not care to cook again.
Martini was a SuperTaster and she loved making the great dishes, especially the ones she’d experienced as a gourmet in France. To do this, Martini read food magazines week after week and spent her annual vacations in France eating at the carefully chosen top rated restaurants, enjoying the carefully researched top dishes they were famous for. And each year on her vacation Martini would purchase these master French chef’s cook books, return home and try to duplicate the dishes she’d had at their restaurant. After many failed attempts, she frustratedly concluded that there was something wrong. She suspected that the chef’s cook books were not revealing all the ingredients or all the methods needed to duplicate the dishes oneself.
One day after Martini made her daily rounds visiting friends on the island, Alfredo’s new French cook – Anjou – approached Martini at the Farmer’s Market to introduce herself. They became fast friends.
Twenty five years ago Alfredo was acclaimed as the greatest living chef. He was passionate about his work and received acclaim from many critics and epicures, but his greatest joy in life was cooking for his fiance Ambrosia whose passion in life was to eat the greatest food in the world as she was a highly sophisticated SuperTaster. Ambrosia was independently wealthy having inherited a fortune from her father who’d been one of the greatest chef’s in France. Thus, Ambrosia’s standards were the highest and she was the pickiest eater imaginable. Nine times out of 10 she’d spit food out rather than consume it, even at the best restaurants. Ambrosia had a photographic memory for food and could look at a recipe and imagine how the food would taste, or eat a dish and tell what ingredients were in it. When Ambrosia liked something she would spend an enormous amount of time analyzing it’s constituent components and praising the chef who created it in personal letters that she sent to them – as well as in her column in L’epicure. As a policy, Ambrosia never wanted to meet chefs in person because she wanted to experience their food without their character or personality having any effect on her. However, she once made an exception: upon tasting the first bite of Alfredo’s Foie Gras, she determined she must meet the man who prepared it. So, Ambrosia asked to meet him and when Alfredo arrived at her table, Ambrosia assailed him with a barrage of compliments of such detail and with such accuracy that he became instantly enchanted with her.
Invariably and over time, Ambrosia was drawn to the establishment where Alfredo created his gastronomical works of art, the most famous and popular Parisian restaurant “Chez Argent” and in time Ambrosia and Alfredo started dating. Most of their dates were spent with Alfredo cooking and Ambrosia eloquently explaining why his dishes were perfect. Typically, during the meal, the two would engage in passionate love-making in the kitchen, pots, pans and knives strewn hazardously about. After a few near disasters, they built a love nest in his kitchen to use for their passionate during-meal trysts, still wanting to experience the pinnacle of their love-making near the gastronomical utensils and appliances.
After years of bliss together, one day Ambrosia was told of a new chef who was hired at the rival restaurant, Chez Radis. Ambrosia was not interested in sampling the newcomer’s creations as she was convinced that she had found the greatest chef in the world. Her friend persisted and managed to drag Ambrosia to “Chez Radis.” To Ambrosia’s surprise the newcomer – Napoleon – was a gastronomical genius. While she adored his food, she was devastated to discover that Alfredo had a competitor. She hid from Alfredo her passion for Napoleon’s creations as she found herself, virtually against her own will, eating at Chez Radis once a week.
Eventually, because Ambrosia was the talk of the gastronomical world, and given that she had been seen at Chez Radis often, Alfredo found out about her dinning there and was hurt and disappointed. Heartbrokenly, Alfredo confronted Ambrosia needing to know why she’d been hiding from him the fact that she’d been enjoying Napoleon’s creations. She reluctantly told him that she hid it because she did not want to hurt him. She was morally convicted that she had to take into account the fact that she was a demanding SuperTaster; and that her abiding moral passion was to enjoy the world’s greatest food. Alfredo accepted that she should pursue Napoleon’s creations by way of satisfying her moral passion. However, he was hurt and he soon informed her that he had accepted a temporary assignment to cater for the 100 year celebration of the French-American culinary academy in San Francisco and would leave immediately.
While Alfredo was away, one day Ambrosia was eating at Chez Radis and, unbeknownst to her, she was seated right next to Napoleon. They struck up a conversation about the food and Ambrosia was delighted to have someone so keenly interested in her evaluations. Like Alfredo, Napoleon knew he was talking to the greatest living food critic, but pretended not to know who Ambrosia was and asked if he could join her and she agreed. At the end of the meal, he informed Ambrosia that he was the chef and asked her to attend a ball he was to cater at the French President’s palace. Expecting that the occasion would bring out his greatest work, Ambrosia accepted his invitation.
On the night of the ball Ambrosia found herself ecstatic while eating Napoleon’s creations and she praised each and every item that he offered her. At the end of the evening they were drunk with delight and nearly drunk on wine and Napoleon kissed Ambrosia. A passionate night of lovemaking ensued in one of the greatest kitchens in France.
The next day, when she sobered up, Ambrosia was horrified that she’d made love to Napoleon intending to have been faithful to Alfredo. In a few days, she came to accept the difficult circumstance she found herself in: loving two equally matched gastronomical geniuses.
When Alfredo returned from San Francisco he brought an engagement ring and presented it to Ambrosia, she started crying and confessed what she’d done with Napoleon. Alfredo was forgiving and understood her dilemma, but he did not believe Napoleon was his equal. So Alfredo called to make a reservation at Chez Radis and after he’d sampled Napoleon’s creations Alfredo returned to Ambrosia to tell her that Napoleon was a genius and his equal. They both found themselves depressed about this turn of events. In a few days, Alfredo proposed a competition between the them and Ambrosia agreed that it was a good way to resolve the dilemma.
So, Alfredo – being the most renowned chef in France – created a new culinary competition which offered a great prize which he called “Alfredo d’Or.”
As agreed to by all three of them, the winner would win Ambrosia. Napoleon won the competition and Alfredo and Ambrosia ended their relationship and Ambrosia devoted herself to Napoleon. Alfredo was devastated and decided to leave France and return to the San Francisco Bay Area in a quest for obscurity. He bought an estate atop Belvedere Island wanting to go to the one place on Earth that no one would ever look for the world’s greatest chef – America.
After spending hours talking to Anjou, Martini decided that Alfredo’s life now is a tragic waste and she determines to do all she can to get him to enjoy life again by cooking for her and by teaching her to cook. Together Martini and Anjou devise a plan.
One sunny morning Martini drives her Citroen 2CV convertible to Alfredo’s estate and Anjou lets her in the gate. Martini has her the best souffle recipe from one of her French cookbooks. Anjou shows Martini to the kitchen where Martini puts all of the ingredients for the souffle on the kitchen counter and waits for Alfredo to show up.
About a half hour later, Alfredo comes into the kitchen to get a glass of milk which Anjou has intentionally not given him. At first he does not see either Martini or the spread of food on the counter. But as soon as he notices Martini, she approaches him as if she’s known him all her life and starts talking to him as if they’re good friends. She speaks as if they had an appointment for him to teach her how to make a souffle. He’s aghast at first, but when she mentions that she has the latest recipe from Chez Argent, the restaurant he worked at it France, he’s intrigued. He takes the recipe from her and mulls it over and finally decides to see if it’s any good.
When the souffle is done they both taste it and she says it’s wonderful, yet Alfredo throws his souffle across the room in disgust breaking the ramikin. She’s incredulous. Alfredo explains that the souffle is missing key ingredients. Moreover, he says important methods for making a great souffle have been omitted from the recipe. Disgustedly, he also tells her to ignore any star chef’s cookbooks as they intentionally leave out relevant information to keep their restaurant monopolies intact. Martini hugs him then paces around the kitchen delighted to now have her suspicion confirmed by the greatest expert in the field. She explains that she suspected that this was happening because she was never able to duplicate her gastronomical experiences at home via the French chef’s recipes.
Over the next weeks Martini comes daily to Alfredo’s home to be mentored by him. She’s having the time of her life and Alfredo hasn’t been so happy since he was cooking for, and making love to Ambrosia. Alfredo often gives Martini pop-quizzes to ensure that she remembers critical elements of great cooking: one of which is to use duck fat in most dishes that call for butter.
At night we see Martini spreading the secrets she’s learned from Alfredo by teaching the women who live on the island and the woman are delighted.
One day after a particularly delicious meal, Martini asks Alfredo why he left France and quit cooking. It’s clear now that he loves Martini, like a daughter, and so he briefly tells her a recap of what happened with Ambrosia and Napoleon (which she already knew from Anjou). Martini asks if he still loves Ambrosia and Alfredo confesses that he still loves her desperately and that he will never cook for anyone but Martini and Ambrosia. Upon hearing this Martini becomes clearly determined to make something happen.
The next day, we see Martini talking to the richest woman on the island – Mrs. Coco – and Martini is excited and leaves Mrs. Coco’s house and drives happily around the island singing a French song about food.
At the town center we see posters and decorations announcing that the most prestigious international culinary competition has chosen Belvedere to host this years competition. Martini takes one of the posters to Alfredo. At first he’s disgusted at the idea of all of these French chefs discovering where he’s been hiding for 25 years, but Martini explains that it’s a golden opportunity for him to get back into the joy of cooking. She also tells him that Ambosia will be coming and he’s thrilled at that news.
Martini spends many hours researching Ambrosia’s husband Napoleon, on the internet. She discovers that in his gastronomic history there are several scandals that he’s been involved with. The theme of the scandals invariably centers on accusations of cheating on his part, thought the accusations were never proven. Martini has a intuitive way of sizing up people quickly and upon seeing a video interview of Napoleon she intuits he’s a cheater. Now she’s determined to get Ambrosia and Alfredo back together.
The day the chefs arrive there’s a welcoming ceremony where Martini and Mrs. Coco speak and toast to great food, long life and happiness. Martini introduces herself to Ambrosia when she’s standing alone, without Napoleon. They talk and Martini invites Ambrosia to her home to enjoy a brunch that the local woman are preparing the next day. Martini tells Ambrosia that she knows that Ambrosia once loved Alfredo, and that she’s been teaching the women on the island Alfredo’s wonderful recipes. Ambrosia is delighted to hear that Alfredo is on the island and accepts Martini’s invitation. The time she tells her to come is 1 hour earlier than the function is to begin.
Ambrosia arrives to find Martini picking flowers and herbs from her garden and together they decorate Martini’s lovely cottage making it ready for the guests. Martini pulls out a dish from the oven that she made, which Alfredo taught her, knowing that it’s one of Alfredo’s greatest dishes she asks if Ambrosia would care for some. They eat and Ambrosia recognizes it as one of Alfredo’s best and then she analyzes it in detail for Martini and she realizes why Alfredo so appreciated Ambrosia’s incredible ability.
Martini wants to find out how Ambrosia’s life with Napoleon is now, and how it’s been for the last 25 years. She discovers over a bottle of wine that it has not been good. Ambrosia no longer loves Napoleon, in part because she suspects he’s a serial philanderer and the quality of his cooking has gone down steadily for the past 25 years. Now he coasts on his former glory. Ambrosia doesn’t know why Napoleon let himself go this way. Nonetheless, she stays with Napoleon because of loyalty to the great happiness they once shared.
After their intimate lunch, Martini becomes convinced that Napoleon’s not what he pretends to be – and probably never was. She’s now determined to dig out the details of the scandals he’s been involved with over the years.
The local woman arrive at Martini’s cottage with the dishes for their potluck. Unexpectedly, Alfredo arrives and is shocked to see Ambrosia. She is thrilled to see him and goes and takes his hand and leads him into the garden where they talk together for hours. Martini and the women notice the sparks flying between the two of them.
That night we see Martini up late into the early morning investigating the Napoleon’s scandals.
Basil is the editor of the most celebrated gastronomical magazine in the U.S. and he’s reporting on the competition on the island. He’s 6 foot 7 and very thin. Every time we see Basil he’s eating French pastries which he bakes himself. When he sees the beautiful Martini at the Farmers Market he approaches and talks to her. He asks about what she’s making with her purchases and where she got the recipe. She tells him it’s Alfredo’s recipe and that it’s one of her favorites. He gives her a tip on how to make it even better. She’s curious about his cooking experience. He tells her he has never worked for any French restaurants, nor gone to a culinary academy. To her great delight, he tells her he’s against the de facto French culinary guild. Martini’s interest in him is now intense and she invites him to her cottage to have some of the dish that she’s shopping for at the Market. He accepts. It’s clear they’re quite attracted to each other.
From a distance we see Martini, at Alfredo’s house, showing him a copy of an old cookbook and Alfredo’s stunned.
The day of the competition arrives. The rules require that each chef create a dish which is an original recipe.
Alfredo had committed to making an original creation for the competition, but has secretly decided against that. Knowing it will disqualify him, Alfredo instead makes the exact same dish that Napoleon announced he would make for this competition.
When the judges discover it’s the same dish Alfredo shows the judges, and audience, that the recipe came from an ancient, secret, Royal French cookbook.
As this is happening on stage, Ambrosia makes her way through the crowd and onto the stage and tastes both dishes, and confirms that Alfredo and Napoleon have made the same dish.
Napoleon, is watching all this as he’s standing next to his bimbo du jour – a floozy named Cherry – and he tells her to meet him back in Paris and then makes a run for his car.
However, Martini expects him to bolt and confronts him. She’s got his briefcase in her hand and says to him “Looking for this?” Knowing that the very same Royal cookbook that Alfredo just showed the judges is in the briefcase, he chases after Martini to get it. She runs to the stage and announces that she thinks the same cookbook can be found in Napolean’s briefcase which she hands to the American judge who opens it and pulls out the very same Royal cookbook and shows the audience.
Napoleon leaps to the stage to defend himself. “I’m President of the French Gastronomical Guild, how can you even suspect me of cheating?”
Martini answers: “Do you deny there are secret ingredients in this book which only the chefs of Royalty knew and your society is devoted to hiding this secret gastronomical knowledge from the world?”
Napoleon replies: “The chefs from our schools run the top restaurants and cook for the most powerful men in the world!”
“That’s your justification for this fraud?”
“I mean, well you see, that is…”
“And did you also use this cookbook (holding it up) to win the competition against Alfredo 25 years ago?”
“Well… That is… You see… I ahh…”
“I’ll take that as a “Yes.”
Alfredo and Ambrosia turn immediately to each other to see if they both understand that their relationship was ended by Napoleon’s fraud. They rush to each other to embrace and confirm they each still love and want each other. While Alfredo and Ambrosia embrace, Napoleon slinks off the stage now having been exposed as a chronic and habitual cheater.
It’s now clear to everyone that the French Gastronomical Guild uses the very same means of cheating, i.e., they cheat the public by leaving out relevant ingredients and/or methods so as not to enable gastronomic independence on the part of foodies, thus allowing the members of the guild to coast and rest on their secret knowledge, rather than be inventive and create new gastronomical delights.
The next day, Martini, Basil (eating pastries), Alfredo and Ambrosia are all working together creating new dishes and noting their evaluations for a forthcoming cookbook that will teach foodies all they need to know to create these great gastronomical experiences themselves.
Later that night, Basil and Martini are talking in her cottage. While eating a coffee flavored eclair, Basil tells her about his how his mom was a baker and how she would take him to her bakery in the early morning and give him all the fresh baked pastries he wanted all during his youth. After Basil has eaten half of the eclair, he then turns the second half of it to Martini and we can see an engagement ring emersed in the cream. Martini plucks it out and wipes it clean and is excited at first. But then she starts pacing the room, imagining what their marriage would really look like. She starts crying confessing that she is jealous – for the first time in her life – of Basil’s ability to eat pastries constantly and never gain weight. Although she loves Basil she doesn’t think she’ll be able to have a happy life if she has to constantly watch him eating pastries which she cannot have. The tension mounts as she cries and he thinks. Basil suddenly approaches her excitedly and says “Darling, you can have a small taste of the pastries – enough for us to be able to bond on the flavor and so that you have some satisfaction in knowing how good my creations are.” Martini stops crying and chippers up and then agrees that this suggestion solves her problem and she smiles at him and puts on the engagement ring and they embrace, kiss and share an eclair.