The Oscar winner stars (and cooks elaborate dishes!) in the French movie ‘The Taste of Things’
Juliette Binoche is bringing her culinary talents to the big screen.
Binoche, 59, says growing up in a French household of foodies meant appreciating cuisine as “a heartfelt art form.” The “frustration” is “it's going to be eaten very quickly most of the time,” she says with a laugh. “It's so many hours of work and it's gulped into those bodies so quickly, too quickly sometimes.”
Still, she often cherishes long hours in the kitchen. “When you are doing it for friends or family that are coming, you take the whole day for it and sometimes even the day before, because you've got to pre-prepare things," she says. "Then, it becomes nice.”
Binoche's children, son Raphaël, 30, and daughter Hana, 24, inherited that appreciation. They “love cooking, and I'm very proud of that," she says. "Because you want to give your children good basics for their lives, for their health… especially when the ingredients are coming from places that are not too transformed by chemicals.”
The Chocolat star adds she “was very keen for them to enjoy peeling, and cutting, and melting, and cooking, and tasting, and smelling. Every Wednesday when they were very little — for probably 15 years, at least — we were doing crepes on Wednesday.”
She admits she had a love-hate relationship with cooking at times, "because when you have to do it every day, it's a pain in the ass!” she laughs.
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But now that her kids are grown, “I have a binder where I put a lot of recipes that I stole here and there from my family or friends, cousins," she says. "I go back to them, or sometimes when I'm fed up doing the same thing over and over, I go on the internet and try to search something.”
Many of Binoche’s favorite dishes involve her sister, Marion Stalens. “There was a period of time my sister and I were competing a little bit, so I had to find better dishes! She was doing meatballs in a way that [made me] so jealous. I tried to refine it, and I could never do it. Recently, she taught me.”
Both Binoche and her sister have recreated a dish their mother made when they were young. “Every single Christmas, we're doing the same dish,” she explains. “Basically, it's a peasant dish, it's sort of a pot-au-feu, but with a hen. But the sauce is amazing. The sauce is made of capers and lemon, a little cream — and the broth! The broth is the main thing.”
Her mother’s proficiency in the kitchen played a considerable role in helping Binoche prepare to play Eugénie in writer-director Trần Anh Hùng’s The Taste of Things.
“She taught me to do the béchamel when I was a little girl, so I know how to do it,” she recalls. “You have principles in cooking, and if you know some of them, it's very [helpful] because it's a base you go back to… so from there, you can improvise more."
Cooking on camera involved preparation rather than improvisation — although, shockingly, not as much as it would appear given how much The Taste of Things features Binoche and costar Benoît Magimel prepping elaborate dishes in real time and in an authentic recreation of a 19th-century kitchen.
“We only had one day of rehearsals,” reveals Binoche. “But we got videotapes before of Pierre Gagnaire, the chef who chose the recipes with Hùng for the film. We had videos that were really showing how he was cooking, how it was prepared. So when I arrived before the rehearsal, I knew the rhythm of things.”
The Taste of Things opens in select theaters Feb. 9 and in theaters everywhere Feb. 14. Also among Binoche’s upcoming projects is playing Coco Chanel in the Apple TV+ series The New Look.
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