As an executive chef in a New York restaurant, Kate Armstrong's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) life is dictated by a long list of rules---everything from whom she'll date to how she runs her kitchen. These regulations keep her safely distanced from all those around her. But her tightly controlled routine is shattered when her sister, Christine (Arija Bareikis), is killed in a traffic accident, leaving Kate responsible for her young niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin).
Although Kate may be a perfectionist in the kitchen, she is a long way from mastering the role of motherhood. Adjusting to her new responsibilities and juggling her demanding work, she occasionally leaves Zoe alone at home and once forgets to pick her up from school. Even finding food the nine-year-old will eat seems to be a daunting task.
Yet as unsettled as things are at home, life gets even hotter in the restaurant after the owner (Patricia Clarkson) hires a new sous-chef without Kate's approval. Nick Palmer (Aaron Eckhart) is everything the master chef is not. He brings an air of fun to the intense kitchen, singing along with opera and joking around with the line cooks. He even whips up a recipe Zoe is willing to try. And although his arrival behind the stainless steel counter initially leaves Kate boiling mad, she soon finds herself warming up to the new assistant.
Like most love stories, this one doesn't always run smoothly, especially with a high-strung participant like Kate. Luckily for viewers, the film contains little in the ways of content concerns. Brief sexual comments and profanities are used along with some depictions of alcohol use and a scene of passionate kissing, implying the couple spends the night together.
Cooking up a recipe for love, the film uses all the classic ingredients. Still, the final dish is a palatable romance that comes with few reservations for adult viewers.