A man hoping to win the favor of a King finds that his heart has gotten in the way in this lavishly-produced comedy-drama. In 1671, the Prince du Conde (Julian Glover) is a figure of French nobility who is deep in debt and suffering from gout. Hoping to buoy his fortunes and his reputation, du Conde wants to win command of the French Army in an anticipated conflict with Holland. When du Conde receives word from the Marquis de Lauzun (Tim Roth) that that King Louis XIV (Julian Sands) wishes to spend three days at his estate, du Conde is determined to pull out all the stops, and he asks Francois Vatel (Gerard Depardieu) to make the arrangements. Vatel is a master chef with a genius for arranging spectacular entertainments, and he is determined that this will be a weekend that the king will always remember. But that's before Vatel meets Anne de Montausier (Uma Thurman), a lovely courtesan traveling with the king's party. Anne is the king's new mistress, but that doesn't stop Vatel from falling in love with her, and he is determined to win her heart.