A restaurant-owning chef whose sales are flagging a bit after a strong debut is sent on a retreat for amateur foodies and chefs by her partner to recharge and find inspiration. This is a Christmas movie, so the main reason for her struggles is Christmas related. She is a daughter of a renowned Chef whose restaurant was always open at Christmas, and because her parents were so busy during the season and always working on Christmas Day, she never got the warm fuzzies for the season. She refuses to institute a comfy simple nostalgic Christmas menu and insists on sticking with her uber-sophisticated artistic creations that we are told are not in demand during the Christmas season. She gives in when she and her partner learn that their main investor is about to pull out due to a lack of Christmas buzz. She arrives at the mountain retreat and learns to her consternation that the class is being taught by her old Cordon Bleu rival and frenemy, James, the love interest.
I liked the looks of the actress who played chef Scarlett. I think she had a certain edge to her delivery as well. However, the character was written as an arrogant and rude brat. A legend in her own mind. She is contemptuous of her fellow classmates because they are just beginners. She isn’t outwardly unkind to them, but with her body language and cold eyes, you can just feel her disdain for the situation she finds herself in. She rudely doodles on her notebook and conspicuously ignores the chef/teacher while he is trying to lead the class. She contradicts him. When tasked with coming up with ideas for gingerbread that isn’t a gingerbread man, she comes up with designs like a ship in a bottle that are clearly, if not impossible to realize, certainly beyond the scope of the class. She was thoroughly unlikeable and behaved badly throughout most of the show. The character needed an actress who could balance some of the bad traits with some warmth and vulnerability, not enhance them.
Of course, she softens later and learns a thing or two from Chef James and her mother who is also a respected chef but also unpretentious and a breath of fresh air. But by that time, her character is so firmly established that I just didn’t buy the transformation. The hero was a peach and she was a pill, so the romance just didn’t work for me either. He was too soft for her and on her. What she needed was a thorough comeuppance. And she didn’t get it.