Caution: Do not watch any of these films on an empty stomach.
With Winter Storm Stella expected to turn the North East into a live-in snow globe tomorrow, you might soon find yourself with approximately zero reasons to venture outside. As you opt to stay in your pajamas for far longer than you ever would on any other weekday, you might want to enjoy a movie or two that focuses on everyone's favorite warming subject, food.
Although we're living in the most food-centric TV era of all time, there are tons of great food-focused films to try out as well. From timeless classics to quirkier films that will make you question how they even got greenlit in the first place, here are eight great food movies to watch while you wait out the storm.
The opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman is widely regarded as one of the greatest cooking scenes of all time. It follows the morning routine of the family patriarch as he begins the day-long process of cooking dinner for his daughters. Live fish are plucked from the water and killed, chiles are chopped and noodles are pulled. Eat Drink Man Woman fits in perfectly in 2017, but when it was released in 1994, this Taiwanese film was downright revolutionary.
Jon Favreau's 2014 movie Chef is the most graphic food porn you may ever see, between the pasta he makes for Scarlett Johansson, the grilled cheese he makes for his son or the entire menu Dustin Hoffman won't let him serve to Oliver Platt. The food all came from the mind of producer-chef Roy Choi and each will make you hungry, even if you've just devoured an opulent meal.
Burnt takes itself very seriously. Whereas the food in Chef is NSFW, the food in Burnt, which was created under the care of Chef Marcus Wareing, is displayed as if it belongs in a museum. Bradley Cooper steps back into the kitchen, after having previously starred in the television adaptation of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, to play a modern day egomaniacal, superstar chef inspired by the likes of Jeremiah Tower and Marco Pierre White. There are a lot of side stories that sometimes distract from the care and appreciation given to the food, however, Burnt does answer the age old question of, “how many oysters must a man shuck to save his soul?”
Pre-Monk Tony Shalhoub and pre-bald Stanley Tucci play two Italian brothers struggling to break the mold of traditional Italian-American food in Big Night. Although you'll be wondering which restaurants in Little Italy deliver within the first few minutes of the film, no scene in Big Night truly captures the spirit of their food quite like the assembly of their prized pasta dish, timpano. Simultaneously intimidating and extraordinary, this climactic scene pairs perfectly with the lasting sentiment of Shalhoub’s chef character’s most memorable quote, “To eat great food is to be close to God. I’m not sure what that means, but I know it’s true.”
Simply Irresistible - iTunes
Are you a fan of the late '90s? Do you enjoy both food and magic? Well, then Simply Irresistible is 100% for you. In a tale as old as time (just kidding, this would only happen in 1999), Sarah Michelle Gellar inherits her mother's NYC restaurant, but lacks the skill or passion to keep it going. As the restaurant is nearing its end, she meets a mysterious man at a market, who sells her magical crabs. At the same market, she also meets a handsome young man looking for a chef at his new restaurant that he's building inside Henri Bendel. How did this get made? Great question, but we're all better off because of it.
Before director Alex Gelb began documenting the lives of multiple chefs on Chef’s Table, there was Jiro Dreams of Sushi, an incredibly intimate look at the life of one man, Sukiyabashi Jiro, and his quest for sushi perfection. You can see many of Gelb’s trademarks from Chef’s Table throughout the documentary (i.e. timelapses, dramatic classical music, philosophical discussions of what food is), but it’s the beauty of the food and the tenacity of the subject that will keep you in awe.
Anchored by an exploratory look at Grant Achatz’s famed Alinea in Chicago, Spinning Plates is divided into three chapters. The first follows Breitbach’s Country Dining, a 150-year-old Iowa institution dedicated to serving the community, both as a dining room and a gathering place. The second is, of course, served by Achatz and Alinea. Propelled by the chef’s battle with tongue cancer, this section of the film explores what drives the culinary world’s true visionaries and what it takes to conquer the Michelin guide. Lastly, the third focuses on La Cocina de Gabby, a struggling Mexican restaurant owned and run by a husband and wife determined to succeed no matter the cost.
Ratatouille plays on the idea that everything we eat is tied to memory. Remy and Luigi, the rat-human chef team that end up running the legendary Parisian restaurant Gusteau’s, are able to turn the table on a ruthless restaurant critic by serving him the movie’s titular dish and playing into the critic’s memories of childhood. Aside from being just absolutely delightful, Ratatouille also goes to great lengths to ensure accuracy, much of which can be attributed to Chef Thomas Keller, who consulted on the film.