|Directed by||James Hacking|
|Produced by||J. Alan Davis
|Written by||James Hacking|
|Music by||Tom Howe|
|Edited by||Rupert Hall
|Distributed by||Screen Media Films (US)|
Love's Kitchen (originally titled No Ordinary Trifle) is a 2011 British romantic comedy film directed by James Hacking and starring Dougray Scott, Claire Forlani, Michelle Ryan, and featured celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in his first acting role. Hacking also wrote the script for the film, and it was the director's first feature-length film. It received a limited theatrical release in the UK, taking £121 on its opening weekend from five screens. It was released direct to DVD in the United States. Film critics gave it mostly negative reviews, and the film received a score of 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.
After his wife is killed in a car accident, chef Rob Haley (Dougray Scott) is left grief-stricken. A bad review causes him to lose customers at his once successful restaurant, so after talking to his friend Gordon Ramsay (himself), Haley relocates to the countryside with his daughter and some loyal members of his staff to turn a local pub into a gastropub.
On the opening day of the restaurant, American food critic Kate Templeton (Claire Forlani) arrives, resulting in an argument with Rob, but the two go on to fall in love and buy a dog. Some of the locals are content with the visitors that the restaurant is bringing to the area, whilst others want it closed down. Rob cooks a special dish with duck that is a hit with the populace. Kate sees to it that Guy Witherspoon (Simon Callow), a renowned food critic, visits the restaurant which results in an excellent report and ongoing success for the restaurant under Haley and Templeton.
- Dougray Scott as Rob Haley
- Claire Forlani as Kate Templeton
- Michelle Ryan as Shauna
- Simon Callow as Guy Witherspoon
- Cherie Lunghi as Margaret
- Gordon Ramsay as Himself
- Joshua Bowman as Roberto
- Peter Bowles as Max Templeton
- Lee Boardman as Loz
- Adam Fogerty as Terry
- Pip Torrens as Health and Safety Official
- Caroline Langrishe as Liz
- Holly Gibbs as Michelle
The film was based on the story of pub owner John Hailey, on whom the character of Rob Haley was based. The character of Kate Templeton was a play on words based on the fact that the pub it was based on was a local for Kate Middleton, later Duchess of Cambridge. The script was written by James Hacking, who went on to direct the film, marking it as his first full-length feature. Hacking also provided funding for the film himself. Dougray Scott and Claire Forlani were cast opposite each other, although in real life they were husband and wife. Hacking pursued Gordon Ramsay for a role in the film for some time, but decided not to go through his agents and approached him directly. He wrote a personal letter to Ramsay asking him to be in the film, which was the first letter read by Ramsay when he returned to the UK after spending eight months in the United States, prompting the celebrity chef to agree to be in the film. The film was Ramsay's acting debut, and he agreed to appear at his own expense. Ramsay's name was misspelt in the closing credits as "Ramsey".
Scenes from the film were shot on site at Elstree Studios. One scene features Michelle Ryan driving an Alfa Romeo; during one take she pulled away at such a speed in the car that the back swung out, but she managed to keep the car under control due to her experience of driving sports cars at track days. Production on the film was completed in March 2009.
Love's Kitchen was entered in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. It was due to be entered in the 2010 Cannes Film Festival but did not appear. The film made its debut showing in the UK at the Kingussie Food on Film Festival in February 2011 under its original name of No Ordinary Trifle. The only actor from the film to make an appearance was Lee Boardman. It took £121 on its opening weekend (on 5 screens) in the UK after release on 24 June 2011, comparing poorly with the same weekend's biggest opening film, Bridesmaids, which took £3.44 million (on 482 screens), including previews of £1.03m. That level of takings was calculated by the Daily Mail as meaning that only seventeen people saw it on the opening weekend, with an average of £24 taken at each screen it was shown at. Due to the appearance by Ramsay in the film, the low levels of takings was highlighted by the press who sought to get a response by the chef, but he refused to comment except to state that he wished to have no involvement in the promotion of the film.
DVD release in the United States preceded the UK cinema release, with the film going straight to DVD on 7 June. It was also presented at the 2011 Dances With Films independent film festival, where it opened the event, but not entered in the competition. The film was released in the UK on DVD less than three weeks after its cinema release, coming out on 11 July.
Following the release of the trailer for the film, critics began to criticise it as they thought they could guess the entire plot straight away, while Digital Spy's Simon Reynolds predicted that it would be a candidate for the worst film of the year.
Following release, the film garnered a 19% approval rating from 16 critics on the review-aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The film was heavily criticised upon release by the British media. David Edwards for The Daily Mirror suggested that people should see it "for a masterclass in how not to make a film. The effect is like smashing plates over your head while suffering from violent diarrhoea." However, the newspaper also listed the film as a "nicely staged British rom-com". The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw described the film as "abysmal", and in particular thought that Gordon Ramsay was "excruciating". Chris Tockey at the Daily Mail agreed with that assessment, calling Ramsay "terrifyingly unconvincing" and rating the film as a turkey.
Henry Fitzherbert at the Daily Express described it as "astonishingly amateur and awful", while Sky Movies critic Tim Evans described it as a "veritable banquet of awfulness". Empire gave the film a score of two out of five. Total Film thought better of the film, with Emma Dibden describing it as having a "sharp script" while praising both Dougray Scott and Simon Callow, and giving the film a score of four out of five.
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- "Love's Kitchen is a fine British rom-com". The Daily Mirror. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
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- Tookey, Chris (24 June 2011). "Oh Gord, this British romcom is a kitchen nightmare". Daily Mail. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
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- Smith, Anna. "Love's Kitchen". Empire. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
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