The first part of the film describes how Babette settles into this small town. But the main story builds twelve years after her arrival. Babette receives notification from France that she has won the lottery, ten thousand francs. With her winnings she resolves to help two sisters, Martina and Phillipa, and the congregation celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late pastor by preparing a feast, not just any feast, a real French feast. But in seeing the elaborate preparations for the meal, the sisters grow alarmed and fear the strange food by the Catholic Babetter. Also, the members of the congregation all resolve to say nothing about the food placed before them, except General Loewenhielm, Martina??s old suitor, who returned after 30 years of army career. Yet as the meal progresses, the pleasures these pious people have never even imagined begin to entice them in spite of themselves. Loewenhielm praise the food, and he interprets to the assembly the unique magnificence of the grand dinner. In the end Babetter??s feast has its way even with old people. The final scene takes place inside, in the wreck of a kitchen piled high with unwashed dishes, greasy pots, and empty bottles. The two sisters tell Babette how great the meal was, and they will remember this evening after she has gone back to Paris. But Babetter tells them that she is not going to go back to Paris, because it is too expensive. She tells them that she had spent all of her winnings on preparing for the feast. Then, she reveals her identity to sisters that she was a renowned chef in Paris. Further, this most applauded chef has used her entire lottery prize. Her five-star feast, prepared for people who didn??t trust her and who were determined not to enjoy it, had cost her everything she had won to give this obscure village a banquet they did not want, and in the process to bring about a reconciliation and joy they could have experienced in no other way.
The movie closes with the general??s speech that though we have been told that grace is in the universe, humans?? foolishness and shortsightedness divine grace to be finite. ??But the moment comes when our eyes are opened and we see and realize that grace is infinite, Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude.??