Aug 06

The Hundred-Foot Journey: Change Isn’t Coming, It’s Already Here


Migration is narrowing the distance among the people of the world and Hollywood is curious about it.

That’s the formula behind The Hundred-Foot Journey, the cinematic adaptation of Richard C. Morais’ bestselling novel, directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Juliet Blake, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.

A simplified rendition of Morais’ fiction, the movie introduces the Kadams, an Indian family that leaves Mumbai when political unrest claims not only their restaurant, but also the life of their beloved mother and chef.

After a pause in London where “the vegetables had no soul,” says Hassan, the Kaddams’ culinary genius (Manish Dayal), destiny lands them in France where the spirit-driven, headstrong father decides that they’ll be making their mark. The village they settle in is Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, in the idyllic Midi-Pyrénées section of Southern France.

“This is perfect! We can put our tandoori oven here,” says with excitement Papa (Om Puri) of the large, dilapidated house with a courtyard that sits a hundred feet from Le Saule Pleureur, a cultivated French restaurant with a Michelin star owned by the snobbish Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).  100FootJourney53cea5c664b1c

The dramatic and cultural tension is set. The comic flair helps to soften hostilities on both sides when Maison Mumbai, the Kadams’ boisterous restaurant, and the newcomers’ need for survival clash with Madame Mallory’s beliefs of what constitutes proper taste and good food.

“To survive here, we have to adapt. We need to make use of what is close to us, and then we pray God that it works,” says calmly Hassan to his brother Mansur, his right hand in the kitchen, when they have no choice but to pour wine in a traditional Indian dish.

100FootJourney53cea5cdbf90aMarguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), the first character the Kadams encounter when their car goes off the road above Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, plays a big part in the family’s cultural adaptation. While her beauty quickly makes an impression on Haddan, it’s her role as Madame Mallory’s sous-chef that turns her into a fateful presence and a powerful ally in a strange land.

The movie delivers an inspired moment of civic duty, if not an unrealistic one under Europe’s current immigration climate, when Madame Mallory takes a personal stand against a hate crime that almost destroys the Indian restaurant and injures Hassan’s hands. Unmasking her own chef as one of the culprits, she first challenges him with a lesson on what being French really means, then fires him on the spot.

“You are a chef,” she tells the defiant Jean-Pierre (Clément Sibony). “I don’t pay you to burn things.” Next, in a 100FootJourney536acb9d4a18edeparture from real life that often depresses immigrants’ upward mobility, she hires Hassan at Le Saule Pleureur and launches his rise to culinary stardom.

But it’s what happens to him in Paris, where he becomes a national celebrity, that addresses a powerful undercurrent of our postmodern, deracinated lives, and attracted me to the movie: where is home, and what makes it such? 

That’s the question that lays at the foundation of my work, and propels my personal journey since I began to map a new life in the United States.

Once in Paris, Hassan no longer channels who he is into his work. Only his skills and expertise are wanted. Away from the acceptance he found in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val and Marguerite’s friendship, he loses the emotional connection that grounds him in his new country and, in time, feels lost as well.

100FootJourney53cea4aa5a970“Food is memory. Every bite takes you home,” he breaks down one night when a coworker offers him Indian food prepared by his wife. It’s then that Hassan realizes what he must do to regain his bearings and a sense of home.

An uplifting movie, both for the message of peace between vastly different cultures and Linus Sandgren’s striking cinematography that makes the food and the French countryside leap from the screen, I saw The Hundred-Foot Journey as a message for positive change. Not only for those of us who move around the world to start a new life, but also for the societies that receive us.

Take a city like New York, where I moved over two-decades ago from my hilly region of Umbria. I am one of three million of foreign-born residents, 49 percent of households speak another language besides English. (Data is based on the 2013 statistical report “The Newest New Yorkers,” published by the Population Division of the New York City Department of City Planning.)100FootJourney53cea5c3f024f

All we have to do to interact with other cultures is open the door and let the world in.

Change isn’t coming, it’s already here.


The Hundred-Foot Journey opens August 8. 


Some fun facts about the movie and recipes from The Hundred-Foot Journey

100FootJourney53cea70429906- The Hundred-Foot Journey is the first book that Juliet Blake ever optioned. It was also Richard C. Morais’ first novel.

- The film was shot on location in the south of France to best utilize the beauty of the Midi-Pyrénées region. The village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val was the on screen home of Le Saule Pleureur and the Maison Mumbai, and several other homes in the neighboring town of Carlus were used to film exteriors of the two restaurants.

- When Hassan makes the omelet for Madame Mallory in the film, it was based on a recipe that Manish Dayal’s father used to make for him when he was a child.

- Every weekend during production, Om Puri invited his on-screen family to his home where he would cook 100FootJourney53cea70366ccctraditional Indian dishes for them, which brought everyone closer and made their bond on screen more natural and believable.

As to the two giant talking heads of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey who came on screen before the movie began to gush about it, they are not one of the fun facts! They reminded me of Sheldon’s mother in “The Oedipal Wreck,” who speaks to Sheldon (Woody Allen) from a cloud as he’s hiding.

Thankfully, Spielberg and Winfrey were on the red carpet, but not on screen when The Hundred-Foot Journey premiered at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York, earlier this week.

Keep an eye on Life In A New World’s social media. We’ll publish selected recipes from The Hundred-Foot Journey over the next few days!

Jan 09

Life in A New World: Global Lives and Difficult Beginnings

LIANW Show Card Is a life that lifts us above our cultural and geographic boundaries truly achievable? Can we really be greater than the sum of our multicultural parts and experiences?

Cate Brubaker and Sabrina Ziegler, the intercultural entrepreneurs behind the yearly online conference Living Your Ideal Global Life, will wholeheartedly tell you that it is possible. Their work is designed not only to help people map a global life, but also connect them to a world wide, like minded community.

The summit will stream from Jan. 26 through the 30 at Cate, a teacher of intercultural education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the founder of where she helps people readjust to life in the States after living abroad, while Sabrina, a self defined educational designer, is the owner of Both Brubaker and Ziegler are board members of SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research).

The two entrepreneurs are featured in the first segment of this month’s special edition of Life in A New World.

Voices of Italian America It is professor Martino Marazzi, however, the author of Voices of Italian America, a literary review of the history of emotions narrated by the early Italian-Americans who attempted a new life in the United States, recently published by Fordham University Press, who reminds us that attaining a well adjusted life in the adopted land — let alone an expanded one, much later on —  was the struggle of many people and a few generations.

Marazzi teaches Italian Literature at the University of Milan, and has recently served as the Tiro a Segno Visiting Professor in Italian American Culture at New York University, where I interviewed him. He’s a widely respected scholar in Italian immigrant culture.

The last part of Life in A New World’s January 2015 special is a trailer of The Italian Americans, by director-producer John Maggio. It’s a documentary about the Italian American experience that will run on PBS on Feb. 17 and 24, 2015. Don’t miss it, as it promises to be of great insight and emotional value for both Americans and new Americans alike.

Enjoy the show and send us your feedback.


Life in A New World – January 2015 Special from Tiziana Simona Rinaldi on Vimeo.

Aug 08

How Immigrant Women Make in America: TV Interview with Dr. Fiona Citkin

Fiona and MeToday’s episode (10:00 am on Bronxnet, C68 Verizon and C34 Fios) is all about us, the foreign born American women who bring a “healthy diet” of grit, creativity and tenacity to our adopted land, as featured guest Dr. Fiona Citkin puts it.

But how do immigrant women find success in a society that doesn’t always value who they are?

Dr. Citkin, a diversiculturalist and the author of the upcoming book “Cracking the Immigration Code: How Women-Leaders Achieve Success and Contribute to America’s Well-Being and Cultural DNA,” talks about the “quadruple jeopardy” of being a striving foreign born woman, and shares examples of those who have accomplished the mission. (See a couple of her slides posted below)

For more on today’s show visit and for Dr. Fiona Citkin.

Life In A New World: How Immigrant Women Make It in America from Tiziana Simona Rinaldi on Vimeo.


The quadruple jeopardy points faced by foreign born professional women in the US, as highlighted by Dr. Citkin.

The quadruple jeopardy points faced by foreign born professional women in the US, as highlighted by Dr. Citkin.

Dr. Citkin's power-point slide on the economic value of "immigrant creativity."

Dr. Citkin’s power-point slide on the economic value of “immigrant creativity.”

Jul 11

Finding Success in A New World, Panel Conversation: the TV Show

WAB Panel 2014The United States of America has been populated by multitudes, waves upon waves, of newcomers. Despite that, and despite being rejuvenated with each new arrival, creating a successful life as an outsider remains a huge challenge.

In this episode of Life In A New World, which airs today at 10:00 a.m. on Bronxnet (Cablevision ch. 68 – FIOS ch. 34) you will hear, in very pragmatic terms, how to overcome that.

Dr. Fiona Citkin and Sergio Troncoso are the two panelists who discussed the topic at this year’s Writing Across Borders, the international writing conference organized by the New York chapter of the National Writers Union.

Citkin and Troncoso couldn’t be better fit for the task, as they both confronted and succeeded against the same odds. Among the aspects they examined are:

- Which adjustments, innovations and insights led them to prosper in America by leveraging a foreign born background, for Citkin, and a bicultural-bilingual upbringing in Troncoso’s case.

- What are the challenges and the road blocks that can delay or prevent, foreign born people from building the life they want.

- How Sergio Troncoso distills into literature the experiences of his American life, both to inspire others and to expand on current literary narratives.

Life In A New World: Finding Success in the USA – Panel Conversation from Tiziana Simona Rinaldi on Vimeo.

Here is some biographical information on the panelists:WAB Panel3

Dr. Fiona Citkin is a Ukraine born linguist and diversiculturalist who moved to the US in 1994 with a Fulbright scholarship to study languages and cultures at Kent State University, Ohio.

She is the founder and managing director of Expert Management Solutions Inc., an intercultural competence consultancy, and the author or “Why and How Intercultural Competencies Can Help Organizations to Survive and Thrive.”

Fiona is also a columnist for the Huffington Post where she writes extensively about immigrant women’s success, the topic of her upcoming book titled “Cracking the Code: How Immigrant Women Leaders Achieve Success under Stress.”

Sergio Troncoso was born in El Paso, Texas, and is now a fellow New Yorker. After graduating from Harvard College he was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico, and studied international relations and philosophy at Yale University.

WAB Panel2Sergio was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters. He is a resident faculty member of the Yale Writers’ Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, and an instructor at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

He’s the author of five critically acclaimed books, including From This Wicked Patch of DustLast Tortillas and Other Stories and Crossing Borders: Personal Essays. In 2013 he co-edited Our Lost Borders: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence, to which Publishers Weekly referred as “and eye-opening collection of essays,” on how drug violence changed the bi-national, bi-cultural life along the US-Mexico border.

His latest release is the novel The Nature on Truth, by Arte Público Press.



For more on today’s panelists and to contact them visit for Dr. Citkin and for author Sergio Troncoso.

Jul 10

Upwardly Global Offers New Tech Training


Upwardly Global (UpGlo) announces its Technology Employment Training Program.

The nonprofit leader in the professional relaunch of highly educated newcomers to the U.S., implemented the programming addition in response to the national need for skilled workers in technology and IT.

“The tech program provides much of the same mentoring and job search training that we provide to all [participants] in our programs,” said Meghan Lewit, the company’s spokesperson.

Job seekers will work with an UpGlo staff member who specializes in technology to develop a tech-focused resume, and connect with mentors at top firms.”

Lewit also shared that UpGlo’s partnership with Accenture and Skillsoft has grown to include more than 200 new online courses. While some continue to prepare newcomers in areas of general professional development, many focus on the new and in demand skills of Software Engineering, Network and Systems Engineering, Help Desk and Web Development.

The following infographic, developed with CareerBuilder and provided by Upwardly Global, illustrates how the current shortage of skilled workers on the US technology market can be filled by the country’s foreign born labor force.

STEM Infographic

For more on UpGlo’s training and employment services for foreign born professionals visit

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