The advent of streaming services, such as Netflix, have been a boon to micro-genre nerds everywhere. Where once we had to be satisfied with broad categories like rom-com, thriller or action, now you can drill down to things that move you – the more esoteric the better. Type in “serial killer films” to the search bar and you’ll get morally questionable but undoubtedly helpful subcategory tags including: “Dark US Slasher and Serial Killer Films” and “Scary Western Slasher and Serial Killer Films”.
There is, however, a gap in Netflix’s database, a glitch in its matrix. Type “food films” into the search bar and you’ll get dozens of food related TV series and documentaries, but no clear direction for a foodie whose hungering for a gastronomy-based movie. Given this, we’ve listed a few of the better, if not the best, films that give food the spotlight.
An undisputed heavyweight champion of food-related movies, the premise of Ratatouille in and of itself is brilliant and insane: a French rat, voiced by Patton Oswalt, has a lifelong love of cordon bleu. He sets about commandeering a lowly kitchen hand and controls his movements, hidden under the Chef’s hat, by strategically pulling his hair. Soon enough he becomes the cat’s meow of the Parisian food scene. Throw in the Proustian elements of a cynical food critic going all In Search of Lost Time and what’s there not to love?
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Before becoming a three-time Oscar winner and darling of Hollywood, Ang Lee was a celebrated arthouse director in Taiwan. Eat Drink Man Woman is arguably the film that made his name. The movie, an excellent study of the tension between young and old generations in Taiwan centers on three daughters who push back against the traditional “father knows best” values dictating society. A beautiful cultural analysis, the film is also famed for its long, lingering scenes of cooking. Particularly the five to six-minute opening shot which will leave you salivating.
The Trip (2011), The Trip to Italy (2014), The Trip to Spain (2017)
Watching loosely fictionalised versions of British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travelling from five-star restaurant to five-star restaurant, passive-aggressively getting on each other’s nerves and spending an inordinate amount of time doing Roger Moore impressions might not sound appealing, but it’s genuinely hilarious. So much so that they’ve made two sequels and are currently producing a third – The Trip to Greece. You don’t need to be familiar with Coogan or Brydon to fall in love with the conceit here, threadbare as it is. The films, in essence, are about two incredibly funny people talking about life, love and Roger Moore while eating sumptuous food in some of the most beautiful locations.
Overall Chef may be a pretty corny movie, but it’s funny in places and inspiring in others. A passion project for Jon Favreau, who wrote, directed and stars in the movie, it tells the story of a prominent Los Angeles chef who has become bored and complacent. He’s only able to find his groove again by opening a food truck in Miami and setting about to make the perfect Cubano sandwich. Food truck guru Roy Choi consulted on the film, meaning the food porn scenes are legit, and even with the well-worn trope of a father reconnecting with his son as the plot, food plays a big part in the film securing its spot on this list.
Chocolat, which features an obscene amount of food porn, is a delight and not just because it features Juliet Binoche. The movies tagline, “sinfully delicious”, couldn’t be more appropriate. Set in 1950s France, the film tells the story of a sassy chocolatier whose presence scandalizes a small village, yet she manages, of course, to win the villagers over in the end. If you’re a lover of chocolate, desserts and all things sweet then Chocolat is a winner. If you love British character actors, including Dame Judi Dench, going all ‘Allo ‘Allo and putting on awful French accents you’ll love the movie even more.