Jackson, a young, highly strung, obsessive hot-shot chef, storms out of his flashy London restaurant. He collects large bundles of cash from different bank accounts, empties his sparse belongings into a suit case, ditches his mobile, and sets off in his beaten-up car, driving up north. Seeking anonymity, he finds refuge as a dishwasher at Edinburgh’s ‘Kooks’ restaurant, where Anton, an ageing alcoholic chef, his daughter Alice (waitress and want-to-be sommelier) and her son Danny run the place.
The kitchens are a state; the food is awful and the menu hasn’t changed since the 90’s.
We learn that Anton and his late wife set up the restaurant together, developing all their own dishes and running it as a husband and wife team. Since her passing however, Anton has refused to change a thing, leaving the place gathering dust like a kind of ‘Miss Havisham’s’ mausoleum in memory to his wife.
After Jackson helps out in the kitchen when one of the staff is ill, Anton realises that there is a real chef in their midst. Seeing that change is needed Jackson eventually agrees to take over with the proviso of retaining his anonymity – to the outside world Anton remains head Chef.
For first time in years, Anton enjoys the compliments from the customers in his after dinner rounds, as Jackson breathes new life into the restaurant. There is however a constant battle between Jackson’s exuberant ‘molecular gastro’ style and the Anton’s instance in keeping things simple and remain true to the restaurant’s heritage, essentially not changing a thing.
At the same time Jackson’s relationship with Alice is blossoming. When a major food critic arrives, Jackson outdoes himself producing molecular cooking that is a million miles removed from Anton’s house style. The critic gives a rave review, though smells a rat as to who is doing the actual cooking – surely not the ageing Anton?
Seeing this as a validation, Jackson pulls out all the stops and becomes ever more petulant, pedantic and wasteful in seeking the perfection of his cooking. Throwing out all of Anton’s recipes in favour of his own outlandish creations. Anton meanwhile is getting ever more miserable with the charade, and things finally come to a head when he presents the accounts to Jackson – they are loosing money hand over fist.
Tempers are frayed, and Jackson storms off only to return with a suitcase full of money. Reluctantly Anton agrees to sell him the restaurant. However when Josephs’ real identity slowly leaks out, his past begins to catch up with him. His ex-wife turns up demanding money, followed hot on the heels by investors looking for their cash. His relationship with Alice collapses in light of new revelations, and Jackson is soon left without money or restaurant.
As Jackson hits an all time low, it is Anton who comes to the rescue. Together they look for a way to save the restaurant. Anton finally lets go of the past, and Jackson learns to become less selfish, finding a new approach as a chef with Anton’s help, whilst at the same time seeking to repair his relationship with Alice .
Screenplay is available on request. © Oscar van Heek. Contact: [email protected]