Today’s Special is a 2009 film directed by David Kaplan. It’s a feel good film about food, and I’m offering this review with a dedication to those folks who regularly ride the 7 Train from Queens, NY into Manhattan. This is the subway that takes you from the Main St. Station in Flushing, Queens, past Citifield, home of the New York Mets, straight through Queens, finally going beneath the East river for a stop under the lower depths of Grand Central Station before ending in Times Square. That line passes through Jackson Heights with two stops that might be called Little India of Queens. And it is in this area that most of the film takes place.
Samir is a sous chef working in a swanky French Restaurant in Manhattan. Basically a sous chef manages the kitchen, controls the supplies and inventory, oversees the staff, sees that the kitchen meets the safety standards and the sanitation codes, and is in charge when the chef is not present. On occasion, the sous chef might even cook.
Well, Samir is passed over for the job of chef at a new restaurant that his current chef is taking over. He quits and decides to set his sails for France, where he hopes to apprentice under a top Parisian chef. His father owns the Tandoor Palace, a small neighborhood Indian restaurant, that is distinctly pedestrian at best. It’s not making any money at all.
Samir must tell his parents of his plans. They’re well-meaning but they can’t see or appreciate Samir’s goals. His Dad is disappointed in him (he’s not a doctor) and his Mom works furiously to find him a wife. His father is crushed by this news. You are quitting a job that pays you good money for a job, that you don’t have yet, that will pay you nothing?
Yes, Dad. I’d be an apprentice.
That leads to a sudden and dangerous shortness of breath for the older man. He’s just suffered a mild coronary. Samir then agrees to hold off on his plans and help out at the restaurant for a while. That’s the set up.