There’s a certain level of prestige and class that comes with being able to cook at a high standard. Some people have a natural gift and pursue cooking as a profession, while others just cook because they love the activity. It’s a passion that can bring people together. But where does that passion start? For many people, famous chefs included, a desire for the culinary arts begins in film. Throughout history, there have been some amazing cooking films, many of which have inspired amateur chefs, seasoned veterans and those just looking for new ideas, to start being more creative in the kitchen. Here are the top 5 cooking films that will stimulate your culinary juices:
Chef, dir Jon Favreau (2014)
Directed by and starring Jon Favreau, Chef follows the life of fictitious restaurateur, Carl Casper, whose career begins to spiral out of control after he loses his job as the head chef of a popular restaurant. Refusing to compromise on his integrity, Casper finds himself in both a career and personal slump, having lost touch and strained his relationship with his son, Percy.
This film features some amazingly scrumptious shots of delicious foods from the tradition Cuban cuisine. There’s no doubt that this will motivate you to get back in the kitchen start cooking some nutritious and convenient meals, whether it be this za’atar haloumi salad, or some of the divine delicacies prepared by Casper himself. Whatever your inspiration might be, Chef is certainly the type of movie that will motivate you to start preparing your own home-cooked meals and compel you to steer clear of unhealthy fast food options.
Driven by a desire to rekindle his relationship with his son, Casper discovers his love for Cuban cuisine on a trip to Miami and subsequently decides to purchase an old food truck and repurpose it with his son. The film features some amazing shots of Cuban food preparation (most notably traditional Cuban sandwiches) and will make anyone want to hop back into the kitchen and start creating.
Burnt, dir John Wells (2015)
Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, Burnt is a far more serious take on the fall of an established American chef. Adam Jones, played by Cooper, is a chef at an opulent, fine-dining Parisian restaurant, before a recurring drug addiction and his overt arrogance brings about the downfall of his career and the restaurant. Looking for a fresh beginning, Jones heads to London in search of old friends and contacts.
If you’re looking to break into some fine-dining cuisine (i.e. the very fancy, high-end level of cooking), then you should certainly check out Burnt. While the heart of the film does revolve around Jones’ inability to mature and foster meaningful relationships, there’s still some delicious shots of high-end food and nibbles. After watching this one, it’ll be hard to not get back in the kitchen and start trying some new ideas. This film’s especially great if you love watching some Hollywood A-listers chowing down on great food.
Ratatouille, dir Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava (2007)
Granted it is animated, but Ratatouille is an unbelievable film, having won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was even voted one of the greatest motion pictures of the 21st century in a 2016 poll conducted by the BBC.
Developed by Pixar and released by Disney, the film follows the life of a rat named Remy, whose ultimate aspiration in life is to become a chef. Throughout the film, Remy forms an alliance with Alfredo Linguini, the garbage boy for a Parisian restaurant. The film’s title is derived from the famous French dish known as “ratatouille” and features an array of other French delicacies. It’s heart-warming, adorable and above all else, a great film to motivate all the amateur chefs out there.
No Reservations, Scott Hicks (2007)
Directed by Scott Hicks, No Reservations documents the life of a perfectionist chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) struggling to adhere to her high standards while raising her late sister’s daughter. Her life is made more complicated when a new chef (Aaron Eckhart) embarks on taking over the kitchen with his new, creative style.
While the film’s basic premise is somewhat predictable, this film is sure to please cooking fans and rom-com lovers alike. Viewers get to see some of their favourite stars preparing a scrumptious array of fine-dining delicacies, while learning about the inner dynamics and hierarchy of a conventional restaurant kitchen.
Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron (2009)
Featuring acclaimed actresses Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, Julie & Julia is presented as a dual narrative. Indeed, Streep plays Julia Child, a young woman in the early 1950s, while Adams portrays Julia Powell in 2002, a young writer who decides to cook every single recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The real book contains over 524 recipes, which Powell attempts to cook in 365 days. She documents her journey on her blog, which ultimately brings her literary success and fame.
The film is based on a real story and Julia Child is highly regarded in the culinary community, often viewed as popularising the traditional French cuisine in American households. While the film was a success, the real Julia Child passed away in 2004 and was reportedly not impressed with Powell’s efforts, viewing the year-long cooking challenge as a publicity stunt. Nonetheless, after viewing this film, there’s no doubt that ardent cooking fans will be reaching for Child’s world-famous cookbook for inspiration.