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12 foodie films that will make you want to cook

In most films, food largely happens off-screen, which is a damn shame, because I love to watch food. I love watching foodie centered films where characters stir soup, chop onions, sizzle steak, or swirl a fork of spaghetti over a plate. I enjoy a movie that takes place entirely at dinner, or a film that centers on a kitchen somewhere in Italy. It's comfort food, but for your eyes, and when it's done well, it's (again) delicious. This is a list of 12 of my favourite foodie films where cooking and eating plays an integral part of the plot, rather than merely being background. How many have you seen?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This now-classic food documentary, from the makers of Chef’s Table, follows 85-year-old Jiro Ono, a world-renowned sushi chef completely devoted to his craft. The film puts an immense focus on how Ono creates incredible sushi, and how he revolutionized the craft with new techniques. Jiro Ono is considered to be the greatest sushi chef alive, and watching his relentless pursuit of perfection is equal parts awe-inspiring, soul-crushing and totally mouthwatering.

Burnt

For a bit more drama, Burnt starring Bradley Cooper, will take you into the kitchen of a top restaurant striving for three Michelin Stars led by a chef trying to redeem himself and his career. Burnt gives an excellent look into the world of high-end dining and professional kitchens and any fan of Bradley Cooper will love his performance in this movie.

Ratatouille

You might not expect an animated film about a rat who lives in Paris to be one of the greatest films about cooking ever made, but Ratatouille surprised everyone with its tribute to great cuisine. One to watch with the kids while in lockdown, the film follows Remy, a rat who is obsessed with good food, as he teams up with a clumsy kitchen assistant to make delicious food at a famous restaurant in Paris. Ratatouille not only draws attention to great food, but the passion, hard work, and artistry that goes into making it, delivering a great message to anyone who fears the kitchen: anyone can cook.

Chef

When it comes to lighthearted movies about the love of cooking, you can’t go past Jon Favreau's Chef. The film follows a famous chef who has become disillusioned by the restaurant business and his lack of freedom in the kitchen, as he sets out on a road trip with his son in a food truck, selling Cuban sandwiches and other regional dishes. The film's laid-back style and tone really allow the food to shine. It's clear throughout the film that Favreau has a real love for cooking and for Cuban cuisine in particular. If you just want to hang out with some fun people who love to cook for a little while, then it’s worth checking out.

Julie and Julia

If cooking is not your thing then how about a little bit of cooking drama to pass the time. My pick here would be Julie and Julia – a heart-warming movie where a young blogger takes it upon herself to spice up her life by cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s classic cookbook – all 524 of them. With Meryl Streep playing the role of Julia Child this is a delightful movie to watch with a touch of humour that we could all do with right now.

The Trip to Italy

What could be better than a tour of some of the best restaurants in Italy? How about sharing that tour with comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon? In the follow up to The Trip, the two "friends" retracing the steps of the Romantic poets' grand tour of Italy and indulging in some sparkling banter and impersonation-offs. Rewetting our palates from the earlier film, the characters enjoy mouthwatering Italian meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman's vocal register, the artistic merits of "Jagged Little Pill," and, of course, the virtue of sequels. The film does a masterful job of highlighting both the food and the easy chemistry between Coogan and Brydon, who improvised a majority of the dialogue.

Eat Drink Man Woman

Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman tells the story of a father and his three daughters, who get together once a week to enjoy a fantastic meal together. The film is masterfully crafted, and through telling the stories of each family member, shows how they deviate from cultural norms while maintaining their own family traditions. The cooking sequences are shot with care and precision, highlighting Taiwan's signature dishes and cooking techniques. Like other films on this list, the film shows how food can be what holds a family together.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Why settle on one cuisine when you can enjoy two at the same time? The Hundred-Foot Journey succeeds in telling a story about two cultures being brought together by a shared love of food. Helen Mirren plays a chef named Madame Mallory who is outraged after a family from India opens their own restaurant only a hundred feet away from hers in a small village in France. It’s a light and entertaining film that will making you simultaneously crave chicken tikka masala and a Croque Madame.

Soul Food

Food has always been something that can bring families together, and that's the sort of culinary power that is observed in the film Soul Food. The film focuses on a family who is brought together by a sudden medical emergency. Though have had their differences in the past, three sisters work together to maintain the longstanding family tradition of a Sunday night dinner. The film is worth a watch, not just in how it depicts the importance of food in a family (mouth-watering food at that), but also in how it celebrates traditions and family legacies.

The Founder

This one is a bit of an anomaly. It’s not about fine food, nor chefs. Instead, the film delves into the storied history of fast-food giant McDonald's. Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the man who would go on to take a small hamburger restaurant nationwide, while also cutting the original owners out of the business. The Founder is a profound and often hilarious examination of how one man's ambition and greed can lead to great success but often comes at the cost of alienating others. Didn’t really make me hungry though.

The Lunchbox

For anyone who enjoyed The Hundred-Foot Journey, or is a fan of Indian cuisine, The Lunchbox is a must-see. It tells the story of a neglected housewife whose notes to her husband, which she places in lunchboxes to be delivered to him, are accidentally sent to a widower played by Irrfan Khan. The two begin a long distance exchange of letters, sharing stories about their lives with each other and falling in love. The film is sweetly romantic and tells a beautiful love story that revolves around some truly delicious-looking dishes.

No Reservations

There’s no shortage of cooking movies that have a dash of romance mixed in. This one focuses on the romance and rivalry between two chefs, Kate, a take-no-prisoners chef with a perfectionist attitude, and an ambitious sous chef named Nick. It’s the perfect love-hate conflict to stir up some love. Foodie highlights include gorgeous shots of artistic food platings.

Posted by Shawn Moodie

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