Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tonight's Movie: The Secret Ingredient (2020)

It's been a few weeks since my last Hallmark Channel film, and THE SECRET INGREDIENT (2020) proved to be just the ticket for this evening's viewing, with two appealing leads in a fun story.

Erin Cahill and Brendan Penny play Kelly McIntyre and Andrew York, who grew up together in the small town of Bailey's Fork, North Carolina. They were planning a life together when Andrew received an opportunity to work as a chef in Paris, while Kelly didn't want to leave North Carolina.  Their divergent life paths brought a sad end to their romance.

Five years later, Andrew returns to Bailey's Fork for a visit; he's now a successful pastry chef at an elite Paris restaurant, while Kelly has remained in their home town and owns a successful bakery.

Shortly after their reunion, Andrew and Kelly both head to New York, not knowing that they're going to be competing against one another on a popular TV cooking show. The Food Network's Maneet Chauhan, playing herself, is the competition's host.

The show's gimmick is not to let the contestants see who they're competing against, so Andrew and Kelly have a surprise coming on the TV set...meanwhile, though they have no idea they're cooking yards away from one another during the day, they spend the evenings getting to know one another again.

The timed competition element made the movie slightly more stressful than the average Hallmark film -- I tend to avoid those types of shows on the Food Network! -- but at the same time I appreciated that it was a different spin on the Hallmark's enjoyable cooking-themed films.

The movie also has in its favor two appealing actors in Cahill and Penny; who could resist Penny's smile?  With the help of a pretty good script, they convincingly sell the reasons they broke up and why it's also believable they could reunite years later.  While I wouldn't rank this with Hallmark's very best films, this was solid entertainment which provided a pleasant 82 minutes.

THE SECRET INGREDIENT was directed by Tibor Takacs and filmed by Paul Suderman, with Winnipeg, Manitoba, standing in for North Carolina and New York. The movie was writtten by S.W. Sessions, based on a book by Nancy Naigle.

The supporting cast includes Cherissa Richards, Shannon Coast, Amy Groening, Gwynyth Walsh, Tom Anniko, and Chelsea Rankin.

THE SECRET INGREDIENT is available on DVD as part of a two-film disc with another of Hallmark's "foodie" romances, YOU'RE BACON ME CRAZY (2020).


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