Our Top Chef & Food Films
We love movies! And who doesn’t love a fabulous food film? It’s like eating with your eyes. Chefs also make awesome caricatures. So many professional cooks are so loud and bossy. Our dedication and sometimes arrogance makes for a lot melodrama – so Lorraine & Louiie each submit their TOP 3 Food Movies:
Lorraine’s TOP 3
What?!?! Yes, my all time favorite chef movie stars a rat as its main, but miniscule character. Ratatouille so realistic. The show runners videotaped the cooks at 3 Michelin star French Laundry in Yountville, CA, so that they could get a genuine feeling for how a high end professional kitchen operates. They got the movements down to a food science! And I appreciate the overall theme: good food transports you to another time and place. Food is memory. At its best, it feeds your soul. Cheesy, huh? But we are talking about a mouse.
Another favorite because of its realism. For Chef, Jon Favreau sought out a chef mentor, the great Korean American chef, Roy Choi, to teach him the right way to marinate pork, cut vegetables, and lead in a professional kitchen. Choi told him that he’d have to get it right, and Favreau delivered. It’s not just accurate, but it’s also very watchable. The kid is adorable, his wife played by Sofia Vergara, is as hilarious as she is beautiful, and his sidekick, Jon Leguizamo is so entertaining. I could play this movie on repeat and never get bored.
Julie & Julia
Meryl Streep as Julia Child is a culinary dream come true. Julie & Julia weaves their stories together masterfully to point out the similarities and differences between the protagonist and the world renowned cook. As a huge fan of Child, it was fun to learn about the real woman behind the enormously popular TV cooking show. Amy Adams also does a splendid job showing how anyone can learn to cook well. The story hits all the right emotions. It’s funny, inspirational, and poignant in parts. Be careful. It makes me want to jump off the couch and cook every time.
Louiie’s TOP 3
The Hundred Foot Journey
From a professional standpoint, I appreciated The Hundred Foot Journey because it showcases the marriage of a chef’s culture to his locale. I’ve personally experienced Indian food in Europe and the quality of ingredients really makes a huge difference. I also loved the character arc in this film as our talented hero skyrockets to fame, but still returns home because he realizes what’s more important than a Michelin ranking. Essentially, we see a talented chef who realizes that the nature of beast (the restaurant world) isn’t all its cracked up to be. And, we see him curb himself before he has to pay a higher price, or ultimately lose himself in the race to become the best.
I am a really big fan of Juliette Binoche. I can’t say that enough. Chocolat is a fun movie. While it’s not a definitive “chef” movie, we see another avenue of food through the story of a mysterious woman chocolatier and her daughter who walks into a very traditional and conservative town. Rejected at first, they use the healing properties of chocolate to help certain members of the community overcome their personal problems. The entire village realizes they have to change their ways to let in progress, growth, happiness and love. I think it’s a great story with a lot of super cinematic and symbolic imagery (watch for the red tones in this movie and see for yourself what it stands for). And who doesn’t love chocolate?
This is another movie that I appreciate because of the character arc in the story. Every cook/chef has a story about how they ended up working in a kitchen, and it’s usually because they wanted to find themselves and express their creativity through food. In Ramen Girl, we see Abby (Brittany Murphy) at a very low point in her life, walk into a world where she literally doesn’t know anything, learns the craft of Ramen, then ultimately finds contentment and happiness through mastering her chosen craft. Universally, we all find comfort in the humble act of preparing food, and we find community in eating great food. When you peel away the prestige of Michelin awards and celebrity chefs, this movie is a great example of “why we do what we do”. Because for most of us lifers, we really cook from the soul.