Danièle Delpeuch’s history-making appointment as a chef for the President of France was recently adapted into the film Haute Cuisine, starring Catherine Frot (pictured). Delpeuch, who was the first female chef at the Elysee Palace, spoke with Uinterview about her thoughts on the film and what it was like in the sexism-rife kitchens.

Delpeuch doesn’t deny that she had to contend with sexism at the Elysee Palace and even admits that it may have been worse than what’s depicted in Haute Cuisine – but Delpeuch never felt sorry for herself. “It’s true that kitchens are a very stressed place where you have very difficult moments. And I can understand that everybody reacts with their own personality,” Delpeuch said. “Usually the top chefs are quite strong, they yell, for the most [part], and they are men, I mean, it’s a way for them to show their strength… With the film, I realized, ‘These people should be offended,” she continued, adding, “I was not like that when I was there, to tell the truth.”

While working during the administration of President Francois Mitterand, Delpeuch found her voice. “I want to the President and said, ‘I’d love to do my own market,’ and he said ‘Sure!’ So as long as he was saying that, nobody was looking in my refrigerators any more,” said the former chef. Delpech feels that the dynamic in Haute Cuisine between her and the president – characterized by “confidence and distance” – was true to reality.

Another aspect of the film that hit home for Delpeuch was the prominent appearance of her favorite ingredient. “The producer who wrote part of the script said, ‘We have to put in a lot of truffles if we want Danièle to be happy with the script’ [laughs], so that’s why they put a lot of truffles in the script,” she revealed. “And you know the moment with the slice of bread, spread with the butter truffles and truffles on the top? That’s a good moment.”

Haute Cuisine, starring Frot, Jean d’Ormesson and Hippolyte Girardot, is currently in limited release.

– Chelsea Regan

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