It is usually annoyingly cliché when people say “they don’t make movies like this any more.” But Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? is a film that is hard to imagine being made today, just 32 years after it was produced. Today, this type or international co-production, filmed in at least three major cities, with respected actors from each country would probably be too expensive to recoup its budget at the box office, and studio executives would worry about audience being able to understand all of the accents. Also, this type of sophisticated murder mystery/comedy seems to have lost its popularity. True, there is the Steve Martin revival of the Pink Panther series, but Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? is actually funny, keeps you guessing whodonit, and a great script, and as a little extra sweetener, the cooking scenes are sumptuously filmed.
The ensemble cast centers around Max Vandeveer (Robert Morley) the tyrannical publisher of a leading gourmet magazine, who has assembled the greatest chefs in Europe at Buckingham Palace to make the perfect dinner for the Queen. Then the chefs return home they start to turn up killed, in fact cooked in the manner of the specialties. The dessert chef Natasha (Jacqueline Bisset) and her ex-husband (George Sagal), who is hated by the gourmet set for having made millions in the American fast food market, team up to investigate, and hopefully prevent her death. A key scene, and a very funny one, is when they arrive to a meeting with five of the top chefs in France, all of whom fully expect to be killed at any moment and laugh at the idea that the killer might be after any of the others. “It is an amusing situation,” says a chef famous for his Canard à la presse. “Someone is going to kill the finest chef in France. But tell me my friends, which would be worse: to be killed, or to be passed over?”