Today's Special is an example of how a simple story can achieve a lot as long as you are willing to be open for exploration and not get bogged down by prejudice or other misconceptions. You don't always need to have big events occurring to make a dramatic impact. On the contrary the closer you stick to the basics the more people can relate to it.
At it's core Today's Special is about a son reconnecting with his father. The fact that main character Samir (Aasif Mandvi) is Indian is not as important as you might think. And to me that was quite refreshing as I was afraid getting confronted with the usual jokes about stereotypes and all that. But to my surprise the film very masterfully avoids these traps and simply focuses on the relationships and the dynamics. Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah) is brilliant as the teacher / guru who enlightens Samir how to cook but more importantly to let go of rules and conventions and be more passionate about things. Aasif Mandvi surprised me as the lead since he often comes across as smug or even villainous. However he actually manages to show a progression on screen where you see him transition from an unlikable character to a lovable one in a way that felt natural and logical. Of course there are some clichés the film can't escape from. But to be honest this is a type of film where these are to be excepted since they also contribute to the feel good ending.
The film is a must for foodies for sure but while food plays an important role it's not what the film is about. It's important to be aware of that. As a comedy there is enough craziness going on to give you a decent amount and laughs especially when it comes to mother Farrida (Madhur Jaffrey) and her attempts to find a wife for son Samir. Madhur Jaffrey doesn't get involved with the cooking in this film which is quite funny if you are aware that she is a huge connoisseur of Indian cuisine and is recognized as bringing it to the Western World with her book An Invitation to Indian Cooking. She also had a cooking program on BBC.