A middle-aged chef, Hassan Haji, recounts his life’s journey, from his family’s modest restaurant in Mumbai to his elegant restaurant in Paris where he has conquered the insular world of French haute cuisine. A tragedy at home in Mumbai pushes Hassan’s boisterous family into a picaresque journey across Europe, where they ultimately settle opposite a famous chef, Madam Mallory, in the remote French village of Lumière. After a series of hilarious cultural mishaps, the grand French chef discovers, much to her horror, that the young boy cooking in the cheap Indian restaurant across the way is a chef with natural talents far superior to her own. A culinary war ensues, full of plot twists, pitting Hassan’s Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Madam Mallory, a battle royale that finally reveals to young Hassan his true destiny in life.
Full of eccentric characters, vivid settings, and delicious meals, Hassan’s charming tale lays bare the inner workings of the elite world of French haute cuisine. In the process, however, Hassan also discovers a truism that bedevils any man who has gone out into the world to make his mark: the true costs of rising to the top are only revealed later in life.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is an international bestseller that has sold in 20 markets worldwide, and received the following critical endorsements in the US:
Picked as a “Literary Destination” by National Public Radio, one of five books to escape by.
Picked as a “favorite summer read” of 2010 by O, The Oprah Magazine.
Picked by Amazon:Kindle editors as one of the 10 best books of June.
Picked as an “Indie Next Great Reads” for July, by the American Booksellers Association.
Recipient of a “starred” review by the American Library Association’s BookList.
Picked as a Book Of The Month Club “alternate selection” for release January, 2011.
More advance praise for The Hundred-Foot Journey:
“Outstanding! A completely engaging human story heavily larded with the lushest, most high-test food porn since Zola. Easily the best novel ever set in the world of cooking –and absolutely thrilling from beginning to end. I wished it went on for another three hundred pages.”
– Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
“Morais, formerly a senior editor and foreign correspondent at Forbes, has done his research. The novel is seeded with delightful arcana, like a recipe for rat from an old edition of Larousse Gastronimique, which advises using a specimen found in a wine cellar (‘so much more flavorful.’) The novel’s charm lies in its improbability: it’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ meets ‘Ratatouille.’”
– The New York Times (Editor’s Pick)
“A gorgeous novel, vivid and intimate, tracing a journey from kitchen to kitchen, from culture to culture, with a perfect touch.”
– Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
“Hilarious romp through life, love and the workings of a French kitchen.”
– O, Magazine (Best Summer Reads Of 2010)
“This tale of restaurant rivalry and a desperate quest for Michelin Stars is beautifully told. From India to France, Richard Morais takes his eccentric characters and mouth-watering recipes on an unlikely journey from the teeming streets of Mumbai to a quiet village in rural France. I have never experienced that most subtle of senses–smell–captured so well in print. The aroma of fine cooking just floats off the pages. Don’t read this book if you’re hungry. You might eat it.”
– Simon Beaufoy, Oscar-award winning screenwriter, Slumdog Millionaire
“The Hundred-Foot Journey has great charm and is colorfully written, sensual and evocative.”
– Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
“Serious foodies will swoon over the meals in Richard C. Morais’s The Hundred-Foot Journey. Morais throws himself into the kind of descriptive writing that makes reading a gastronomic event, whether it’s a 12-course meal or Hassan’s first egg-salad sandwich: ‘Never before had I experienced anything so determinedly tasteless, wet, and white.’”
– The Washington Post
“A delicious culinary romp from the beaches of Bombay to the peaks of Paris Haute Cuisine. Very charming and a delight to savor.”
– Padma Lakshmi, author of Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet and host of Bravo TV’s Top Chef
“A page-turner that captures the extent to which nostalgia and imagination are a part of the craft of cooking, while vividly conjuring the sights and smells of the kitchen. In The Hundred-Foot Journey food isn’t just a theme, it’s a main character.”
– Tom Colicchio, Chef/ Owner Craft restaurants
“This novel, of mythic proportions yet told with truly heartfelt realism, is a stunning tribute to the devotion of family and food, in that order. Bound to please anyone who has ever been happily coaxed to eat beyond the point of fullness, overwhelmed by the magnetism of ‘just one more bite.’”
– Booklist (starred review)
“In The Hundred Foot Journey, Richard C. Morais conjures a richly-woven tapestry of exotic sights, smells and tastes that transports the reader to a world of epicurean delights. This is a charming, deeply felt novel that questions, and ultimately celebrates, the twists and turns of an authentically lived life.”
– Elin Hilderbrand, author of Barefoot
“Delicious fairy tale-like read.”
– National Public Radio.
“Cooking and writing at a high level require great passion–exactly the kind of passion Richard Morais has poured into The Hundred-Foot Journey, the story of an Indian boy who discovers he has an extraordinary gift for cooking.”
– Michael Ruhlman, author of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
“Hassan Haji’s tone of voice is something of a masterpiece, cosmopolitan but not entirely European either. And the quest for the Michelin stars is a real cliff-hanger. For anyone who loves food, and who cares for character, the book’s a banquet. Lovely stuff. What a superb Merchant Ivory Production movie it would have made.”
– Simon Callow, actor (Four Weddings And A Funeral) and author of Orson Welles: The Road To Xanadu.
“With his debut novel, longtime Forbes magazine correspondent Morais delves into a rich, imagery-filled culinary world that begins in Bombay and ends in Paris, tracing the career of Hassan Haji as he becomes a famed Parisian chef. From vibrantly depicted French markets and restaurant kitchens to the lively and humorously portrayed Haji family, Morais engulfs the reader in Hassan’s wondrous world of discovery. Regardless of one’s relationship with food, this novel will spark the desire to wield a whisk or maybe just a knife and fork.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Precise descriptive writing offers much to savor in this bouillabaisse of a first novel from a former Forbes editor.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“At times it reminds me of Salman Rushdie and Naguib Mahfouz, of Julia Child and Madhur Jaffrey, and more importantly, of my friends Pritti, Sheneza and Ejaz and their amazing families and recipes. I absolutely loved The Hundred-Foot Journey. It also made me very hungry.”
“When you start reading The Hundred-Foot Journey [you] find yourself mesmerized by the inventiveness of the story and the writer’s ability to cook up tantalizing aromas on paper.”
– The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Hundred-Foot Journey is a buzzing banquet that will linger in your memory long after the last page is turned.”
“A delectable treat.”
– Philadelphia CityPaper
“Morais’s research into both French and Indian cultures and cuisines and into professional kitchens has been rigorous, making for a vivacious backdrop to an engaging tale of love and loss; even as his esteemed mentors die off, Hassan strives for culinary excellence. It’s a story about culture-crossing, a struggle for perfection and also for independence.”
– Time Out London
“Morais layers his narrative with enough colors, flavors, sounds, smells, and textures to tantalize all five senses. The Hundred-Foot Journey is not just about cooking, but about the clash of cultures—and how in the end, exceptional food bridges all barriers. It’s not often a book can be described as sumptuous, but that’s precisely what this tasty morsel of a novel is.”
–– Travel + Leisure
“The Hundred-Foot Journey [is] a novel of remarkable insight and sensuality.”
– Gael Greene, The Insatiable Critic
“An exquisite piece of literary gastroporn. I mean this in the best possible way. You read this first novel at the peril of your gut.”
–The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Hundred-Foot Journey blew my smug preconceptions to bits. Morais’s fictional biography captures the dirt, passion, and madness of a chef’s life and spices it with one extra ingredient: he can really write.”
–Barnes & Noble Review.com
The Hundred-Foot Journey was initially published in India by HarperCollins, in a shorter form, one of the publisher’s main literary titles in 2008. Here below is what India’s leading critics had to say about Mr. Morais’s debut novel:
“His description of Mumbai, of the Haji family and in particular, the patriarch, Abbas Haji, with his sweat-stained armpits, crude habits, larger than life ambitions and persona is remarkably authentic. The well-crafted dialogue, the authenticity of setting and cast of characters makes for a bubbly literary broth ….Morais does enough to deserve the literary equivalent of a Michelin star.” – Dilip Bobb, India Today
“Hot Tip: Eccentric characters, very vivid settings, delicious haute cuisine….Eat this!” – The Times of India
“This slender volume, the author’s first, is highly recommended. The reader is taken through the rarefied world of haute cuisine and Michelin stars and the pressure under which chefs work. An unusual story, beautifully told, the aroma of which lingers on long after.” – Suchitra Behal, The Hindu
“The attention to detail gives this novel its flavour. Morais, a senior editor at Forbes, puts you through many delicious meals and picturesque French landscapes as Haji takes his place in the snobbish world of French haute cuisine. It is one well-rounded spread.” – Sharon Fernandes, The Indian Express
“A friend of filmmaker Ismail Merchant, a great cook, a gossipy raconteur and now a novelist.” – Kishore Singh, Business Standard
“The journey of Morais’ protagonist, a middle-aged chef named Hassan Haji, demonstrates just how chance can shape much of what we eventually become and how our decisions can alter our lives’ course…. While that is the main aspect of the story, it is also immensely entertaining, owing to its eccentric characters and the vivid description of French haute cuisine.” – Nawaid Anjum, Asian Age
“The book hardly looks like a nervous start for this debut novelist…how well he has tried to grasp the true Indian nature. It’s about destiny, something that Indians believe in more fervently than many others on earth. Perhaps it was Morais’ destiny to have written about an Indian character in his first novel even though his upbringing didn’t have anything to do with this land.” – Archana, Mail Today
“Morais’ hero Hassan lives out many an Indian chef’s dream as he progresses from chicken curry to haute French cuisine, whipping up exotic recipes along the way.” – Deepanjana Pal, Time Out Mumbai
“Richard Morais’s tale of a chef’s rise in the elite world of French haute cuisine is not an ordinary story. It originates from the death of his friend and film-maker Ismail Merchant.” – Suparna Thombare, DNA
“He takes us on a tactile culinary journey from Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road to Paris with machli ka saalan, dhabawallahs, racism, tandoors and mugginess in London. There is pig slaughtering and pastries in pastoral France, where Hassan’s loudmouthed, potbellied dad opens an Indian joint threatening Madam Mallory, the local food queen. The book is replete with descriptions of gourmand delights, European and Asian cooking and that 90s fad now in India. Deconstruction. Where ingredients are reduced to their molecular components.” – Shana Maria Verghis, The Pioneer
“ ‘And the clearest sign of a tasty chicken? Plump knees.’ That, by the way, is expert advice from Michel Roux, regarded as one of the finest chefs in Europe, and just one of the many interesting tidbits one can find in The Hundred-Foot Journey.” – Reji John, Financial Chronicle.
“His debut novel unravels the esoteric world of French cuisine. Hassan, its protagonist, is a Muslim born in Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road, who is willing to stake everything he holds dear to become a renowned chef in France. The book has some fascinating chapters on the fuzzy logic that dictates the workings of all great chefs and their kitchens. It’s a tale also propelled by eccentric, likeable characters.” – Sanjukta Sharma, Livemint.com
“Though with comic undertones, the story talks of clash of cultures fought in a culinary way, as Hassan finds his antagonist in an ageing woman chef in France.” – Utpal Borpujari, Sakaal Times
“Settling in a quaint French town called Lumiere they set up shop across from Madame Mallory’s famous establishment. The jugalbandi that ensues is delightful and ‘About finding your way in life, your true calling, even when it is at odds with your cultural heritage.’” – Mamta Badkar and Supriya Nair, Verve
“Morais’ descriptions are accurate and vivid. You can literally smell Crawford’s piscine tang when…” – M. Prabha, Sahara Time
“The reviewer… had so much fun reading it on holiday! … The book is a ‘tasty’ read, replete with tastes and whiffs of exotic meals.” – Aradhka Sharma, The Tribune
“The sights and smells of food are seamlessly woven into a tale of Hassan Haji and his family’s hilarious escapades across Europe, with an intimate look into the world of French haute cuisine. An engaging read.” – Femina
“I would recommend The Hundred-Foot Journey for an inspirational read into what goes into reaching the top, and the doubts that come with it. It is also about breaking with tradition and following what your heart asks of you.” – Tarana, Kreatif Online
Want to buy The Hundred-Foot Journey?
The Hundred-Foot Journey will be published in the U.S. by Scribner on July 6, 2010. To pre-order the Scribner edition of The Hundred-Foot Journey, please go to Simon & Schuster’s website and click on one of the listed retailers..