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Mentorship is defined as, “a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.” Mentoring plays a role in everyone’s lives at one point or another. None of us would be where we are today if it were not for the help of someone older, wiser, more experienced, etc. You can’t learn everything on your own and many things are nearly impossible without the help of someone who has been there, done that.
Such is the case with Hassan Haji in the novel The Hundred Foot Journey. Hassan is a young man growing up in India with a deep fascination for food that can mainly be attributed to his grandfather. Without the help of many people from his grandfather, his father, a crazy old food connoisseur across the street, friends and girlfriends, and many food critics and entrepreneurs from around the world Hassan would never grow up to be the person and chef that he becomes.
It all starts with his grandfather, Bapaji.
He lived a poor life in Bombay, later known as Mumbai, as he grew up and delivered lunch boxes to workers to make a pretty penny. After a few years, he begins to make a better profit by cooking for American and English soldiers based in Bombay and this is when his love for food really begins to flourish. He teaches Papa, Hassan’s father, all there is to know about food, cooking, and most of all running a business.
After he racks up enough cash he buys property and opens up an official restaurant of his own. Eventually he passes this restaurant down to Papa, who takes over the business and proves to be a very skilled and determined business owner. The people of Mumbai riot one day and kill Hassan’s mother and they are forced to move to west to Europe. The first place they go is England but Papa’s business fails here and many conflicts cause the family to move once again. This is when they finally settle in a tiny town in the French Alps called Lumiere. Lumiere is where Hassan really gets his career in food started.
The Haji’s buy a large property across from an inn and open a restaurant called the Maison Mumbai. The owner of the inn across the street, Madame Gertrude Mallory, instantly stirs up trouble with the family, mainly due to the competition they present. Tables are completely booked for opening night and Mme. Mallory has a reservation. She soon realizes that Hassan has great talent in the kitchen. After many conflicts with the family which concludes with her pushing Hassan into a stove, she asks for forgiveness and offers to teach Hassan how to be a chef. This is where the mentoring comes into play. Mme. Mallory teaches Hassan everything there is to know when it comes to running a French restaurant. Mme. Mallory can still be a head case at times but she is a great mentor to Hassan. He would have never advanced passed working in his family’s restaurant in small town if it was not for her help. Soon he realizes that he has the skill to move up in the world and he moves to Paris to work in a fancy, upper-class restaurant. This is where Hassan will meet probably his greatest mentor, and friend, Paul Verdun. Paul Verdun is a mogul in the restaurant industry, owning an upscale three-star restaurant.
When Hassan moves to Paris, Paul becomes the person that fills in for the advice, wisdom, and food knowledge lost when Mme. Mallory is gone. Paul is very traditional when it comes to his culinary taste, which is how Hassan grew up. Not only was he a good mentor to Hassan, they also nearly instantly clicked and become good friends. But perhaps the way in which Paul helped Hassan the most was by passing away. Paul had written in his will that Hassan shall be the one to prepare the meal for his funeral. Everyone there, and there were a lot of food critics, loved the food and after this Hassan became a hit in Paris.
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