The Ratatouille Effect

As my excellent colleague Ratha Tep blogged last week, we got to attend an advance screening of Ratatouille, which by now everyone knows is the adorable new animated movie about a rat who runs the kitchen at the haute French restaurant Gusteau’s in Paris. As most people also know, a lot of research went into achieving the very realistic kitchen scenario—the film's producer Brad Lewis interned at the renowned French Laundry in Napa, and the restaurant’s world-famous chef, Thomas Keller, consulted on the script and even voiced the part of a customer at Gusteau’s. (In a stroke of genius, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, each international version of the film has its own big-name chef playing the role—in Spain, El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià is the voice of the customer; in France, it’s Guy Savoy. The English version has Naked Chef Jamie Oliver voicing the health inspector’s part.)

Keller also came up with the elegant ratatouille that plays a key part in the movie. Apparently, that dish is causing a ratatouille revival in New York City, as reported by the Daily News—Nice Matin on the Upper West Side and Borough [Food & Drink] in the Flatiron District both report strong sales of ratatouille dishes. But not everyone who watched the movie was obsessed with the food. Wade Moises, who became famous in New York City as the guy behind the excellent salumi at Lupa in Greenwich Village and is now chef at Sassi in Scottsdale, Arizona, identified with the variety of people who work in the animated kitchen, most of whom seem to have a checkered past. “Everyone in my kitchen has spent time in jail,” he said. “I’ve worked with everyone in the kitchen of that movie.”

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