The Kadam family restaurant in Mumbai, India, is extremely successful thanks to the mother’s wonderful talent for cooking which her second son has inherited. From early childhood, Hassan has demonstrated a love of the touch and scent of food which we see in the opening scene of this delightful movie: a fish market in Mumbai. While all the women are vying to buy a basket of sea urchins, the seller focuses on Hassan who has reached out to take one from the basket. Gently cupping it in his hands, he takes in the aroma and then begins to taste the flavour, closing his eyes and savouring it. His mother is awarded the basket.
We skip to nighttime in the bustling family restaurant with its strings of colourful lights and its loud music which make dining in the large courtyard a festive occasion. Mother and son (now in his late teens/early twenties) are cooking, father is greeting diners, and the rest of the family is in and out of the kitchen collecting platters of food and serving tables. The winning candidate of an election is dining and everything is gay until dissidents clamber over the gates and walls with torches and in the ensuing mayhem, everyone flees except mother who is lost to the flames.
With this devastating change of luck, the family tries to reestablish their success in other countries, first England, and then France. We see brief flashes of their difficulties which culminate with the brakes failing on their old van as Papa (played by Om Puri) tries to maneuver the treacherous, winding roads outside the valley village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in southern France. Their rescuer is none other than the pretty and charming sous-chef from an established, haute cuisine restaurant just 100 feet across the road from a property for sale. Papa believes this former restaurant is the answer to their dilemma; the rest of the family is not so sure as the icy proprietress, Madame Mallory (played by Helen Mirren) across the way is going to do everything in her power to sabotage the family’s efforts. And so begins the 100-foot journey.