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The Hundred Foot Journey opened in theaters today.

It is hard to talk about a movie minutes after leaving the theater, especially movies that you loved, but this is what I am gonna try to do here.

Saying The Hundred Foot Journey is a good movie would be a flavorless understatement. If you think you are sitting to watch a 122 mins of a culinary battle between France and India then this is just the first step to your journey.

‘An education for all the senses’

Before getting into a few – spoiler free – details, let me just explain why this movie particularly moved me.

I was born in the South of France, raised by food lovers, went to culinary school, worked in a restaurant owned by a chef named Yves Thuriès who achieved being ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ and ‘Chef of the year’ his restaurant was located in a small medieval village looking very much like the one in the movie.

When the story takes our Indian family to this small village and we discover with them the farmers market I was not just watching this movie I was ready to devour it.

The actors, from Helen Mirren to Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon and Manish Dayal are just serving you pure joy. The story does go through some darker moments of acceptance and change. I have to say that it could have taken place anywhere in the world but I am glad it was in France. Liberté, égalité, fraternité is something I was raised by in a society that today is accepting very little change both socially and – especially in France – culinary.

Going to a new country, is also something I did when I moved from France to the America 7 years ago. Just like in the movie new places and new people can bring something extremely motivating in your life and make you achieve things you would think impossible.

Just like in the movie it is also important to know and respect your roots. Make your own recipe to blend that with your new surrounding. Home is where the heart is and today our hearts should be big enough to accept others no matter how different we all may look from the outside. There are some things that connect all of us … love, art and freedom.

The hundred foot journey is about love, art and freedom. Falling in love is something we should never stop doing in life, Art is something we all can do regardless of our occupations because art is about creation and we all have dreams, freedom is something about égalité and fraternité all men are equal and should consider others in a brotherly manner.

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Now let me tell you that we were extremely happy to be able to feature Manish Dayal in our latest issue – August 2014 – Manish Dayal was photographed in Los Angeles by Yoni Goldberg, interview by Hiko Mitsuzuka. Here is a look at his BELLO editorial along with a couple of outtakes.

You can download this issue of BELLO Mag worldwide on iTunes Newsstand

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Manish Dayal is having a moment. And since this is our annual Sexy Issue, it’s a sexy moment. One involves making an omelette with Helen Mirren in this month’s, The Hundred-Foot Journey. The film adaptation of the bestseller is about an Indian family that opens a restaurant across from a renowned bistro in the South of France. The cross-cultural culinary tale, directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), promises a breakout role for Manish (he’s already been labeled as one of the fresh-faced heartthrobs of summer). Naturally, we had to find out what it was like for this South Carolina native to be handpicked by a couple of Hollywood heavy hitters…and how he managed to mix fine cuisine with Crossfit.

When Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg are attached as producers of a film you’re in, what goes through your mind?

When Steven Spielberg and Oprah hired me, the first thing that went through my mind was, this has gotta be a mistake. Then reality kicked in, and I was just ready to get started and dive in. You don’t always get the opportunity to work with visionaries, let alone your childhood hero, so the pressure was on to contribute to this movie in the best way. I wanted to deliver the goods, bring authenticity to this story, and make them proud for believing in me and this film.

Thematically though, The Hundred-Foot Journey has a specific point of view, and its clear to me why both Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey were drawn to this story. It is about a very unique young man who has a real thirst to understand life and his higher purpose. It is a coming of age story that goes beyond racial and cultural limitations, and I think it will inspire people to welcome life’s uncertainty and destiny…Journey stands for the things we go through in life – in order to achieve greatness or the extraordinary, we have to go a certain distance and risk something to achieve it.

How does a South Carolina boy (like you) find himself acting opposite an Oscar winner?

I’m asking myself the same question. I was the kid who always believed in the most improbable scenario. It’s tough to fully understand my own journey because I think I’m still in the middle of it, but I can speak to how it started. I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. It was an unusual place to grow up, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for different one because it kept me hungry. Opportunities were limited there, and I ended up renting movies at Blockbuster Video every other day. I wanted to learn more, and film pumped my imagination. I didn’t know how to break into this business though. There were some pivotal people early on, like my mother, who encouraged me to take film classes. I wanted to work behind the camera maybe as a director/producer, which I still want to do one day. While I was studying, I got an opportunity to be in front of the camera, and it was an awesome experience because even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I had fun, and I instinctually understood it. After that, I was hooked.

Hundred-Foot started with a voiceover audition for a DreamWorks animation project. I met with DreamWorks’ casting director, Leslee Feldman, and then the same night I got a call asking me to read for another DreamWorks project. I was not given the name of the film, the story, or any character details; I did a few scenes from a film that had already been made as a sample. I didn’t know what I was auditioning for, but knew it was important. A few days later I got another call to say Steven Spielberg watched my tape and was excited about it – That was the “holy shit” moment.

Over the next four months, I was called back into DreamWorks for more meetings. Eventually I learned I was up for the film…I’m told my tapes then went to Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. I met [the director] Lasse Hallström over lunch in New York, and the next day I got a call saying, “Steven Spielberg wants to hire you.” Then a couple months later I’m splitting a ham sandwich with Helen Mirren in France. It is some crazy stuff.

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How many mouthwatering moments did you experience on set? (We get hungry every time we watch the trailer)

Too many to count, but in the opening night scene of the Maison Mumbai, there were a hundred different Indian dishes to feast on. In Paris, when my character reaches the height of his success as the chef de cuisine of a top Parisian restaurant, we are taken on a different ride with the food. This restaurant serves molecular cuisine and it’s very different than what you see in the early part of the film – we cooked with liquid nitrogen and centrifuges. There are four main kitchens in the movie, and their food ultimately connects the elements of film.

Besides a full stomach, what did you take away from your experience shooting in France?

The French language. I thought I was good before, but once I got to France, I was able work on it and get around the city.

And just how did you manage to keep your body in check while surrounded by all that food? Any calorie-burning tips?

The food was out of control in France and on set. I ran almost every day before or after the shoot. I also did a lot of body weight strength training. I had to get creative working out with no equipment. I needed to drop some weight for the India portion of the shoot so I did some Crossfit workouts leading up to it.

Finish this sentence: A man who knows his way around a kitchen….?

…better know how to use it wisely. Stan Lee said it best: with great power, comes great responsibility.

What or who do you consider “sexy”?

Aside from frying eggs in slow motion with Helen Mirren, I’d say frying eggs in slow motion with my girl.

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photographer YONI GOLDBERG www.yonigoldbergstudio.com
stylist TAYLOR SHERIDAN www.taylorstylist.com
groomer MELISSA DEZARATE at EXCUSIVE ARTISTS using KEVIN MURPHY

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Now I know for a fact that if you go and see this movie and I know you will, then you may want to start thinking about your next trip to France. Here are some of the locations used in the movie. All those places are located around the place where I grew up – Toulouse – and to be honest with you, it filled me with joy and a little sadness of being homesick and far away from my family …

Let’s start by Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in Tarn-et-Garonne, this location was mostly used for the market scenes in the movie.

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Castelnau-de-Lévis, Tarn – below – and Saint-Jory in Haute-Garonne, a tiny tiny commune that is not as typical as Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val but was probably use in the movie for the nature scenes.

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The location in Paris is an actual restaurant called Le Gorges, it is perched on top of the http://www.beaumarly.com/georges/accueil center. It is not the nouvelle cuisine michelin place that you see in the movie but an interesting place to go to enjoy the amazing view of the city.

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