Kitchen serves up humour and humanity

A scene from The Kitchen Brigade

In The Kitchen Brigade (La Brigade), a sous chef facing financial difficulties accepts a job at a shelter for young migrants. At first she hates the job then her passion for cuisine starts to change children’s lives. Source: Jesuit Media.

This French-language film will attract an audience that enjoys television cooking programs. In fact, that’s the way this film starts, lavish setups for filming a program but with one of the chefs, Cathy Marie ( Audrey Lamy) clashing with the star, insisting on using her recipes rather than what the script demands. And, so, out – standing on the highway, making phone calls, looking for a new job.

When she is interviewed for a new job, she finds that the organisation has over-hyped their advertisements. The organisation is a hostel for young male migrants from Africa and the Middle East who as yet have no ID for France. The men are to be enrolled in schools to get some qualification and their papers. Some are learning French.

This is not what Cathy Marie was expecting, especially when she sees the actual kitchen and the range of tins in the cupboards. But, Sabine (Chantal Neuwirth), the matron of the house is friendly and always encouraging. We all know where this is going in the sense that Cathy Marie is going to mellow but the interesting focus is how and why.

While some of the men have their headphones perpetually on and are uncommunicative or refuse to take orders from a woman, others are genial and find their place in the kitchen. They’re initially tested on how to peel and slice a shallot, progressing their cooking techniques with everybody delighted with these skills – and the appetising results.

This film is sympathetic to migrants, not treating them as statistics. It takes a humanitarian approach, respecting people, young and old, looking for opportunities to help rather than deportation.

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media

The Kitchen Brigade (La Brigade): Starring Audrey Lamy, François Cluzet, Chantal Neuwirth, Yannick Kalombo, Amadou Bah, Mamadou Koita, Alpha Barry, Stephane Brel, Chloe Astor. Directed by Louis-Julien Petit. 97 minutes. Rated M (Coarse language).


The Kitchen Brigade/La Brigade (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics

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