Cooking movies are a lot of fun most times, know why? It’s typically because they show you the work that goes into the food that we consume, see fit to criticize, and thereby don’t really know anything about despite the fact that we had nothing to do with its creation. Chefs, cooks, restaurant workers, even the dishwasher have more to do with the food that comes out of a kitchen than the customer, which is why the movies we watch are a nice guide to remind us just what it’s like in the back and why we shouldn’t take such folks for granted. Food can be a work of art just as much as it’s a means of survival, but at the very least those that go into the profession tend to go for a reason. Servers come and go more often than not, but chefs tend to stick around for a while, especially if they’re appreciated.
Here are five of the best movies that have to do with cooking.
I might be getting a few odd looks for this one but if you take the time to really look at it this is kind the Animal House of cooking movies since at Shenanigans pretty much anything goes so long as the customers are kept happy and know nothing of what really goes on in the kitchen. The characters are insanely hilarious and the antics they get up to throughout the movie aren’t entirely indicative of how a restaurant works, but, hold on for this one, they’re not too far off the mark either. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant before then you know very well that things that can happen will eventually happen if only because the customers sometimes think they’re entitled to more than the meal they’re paying for.
Fine dining is, well, it’s great and all but it does lead to some snobbery that can really grate on people’s nerves and in this movie that’s shown quite prominently since Gusteau’s is a very fine establishment that rests on a very popular idea that many people happen to like. When Linguini and Remy learn how to work together to start creating dishes that critics and customers tend to like however the restaurant starts to turn around and people start to take note of it once again. When they’re challenged by the very nature of who they are and what their species represent however it becomes less about the cooking and more about whether or not they can really understand each other in order to coexist.
This is for the most part pretty accurate since a lot of restaurant owners will gladly let their chef dictate what comes out of the kitchen, unless of course they decide that they want final say over everything, which tends to override their better judgment and forces them to impose on their chef in a way that tends to make tempers flare. When it happens in this movie the head chef takes on his own path as he wants to cook the kind of food that he knows people enjoy and will come back for simply because it satisfies them in ways that are hard to describe. That’s what makes a chef after all, the passion for the food that they put out.
2. The Hundred-Foot Journey
Believe it or not there is unity in food, and in how it is prepared. It seems like such a ridiculous notion to some that food would be anything but fuel for the body, but in the same sense you can’t deny that the influences that go into the food and the passion that creates dishes that somehow transcend mere nutrition are enough to make many people quit arguing and fighting for a moment and simply enjoy the experience. While Hassan is by far and large a very talented cook it does take some convincing for Mallory to admit that he is that gifted, but once he’s on a roll there’s no stopping him, and thankfully he brings forth a talent that everyone can enjoy, not just a selected few.
Unfortunately just like anyone chefs can suffer from hubris as well, and when they believe themselves to be untouchable can succumb to such things as stress and too much exposure. When this happens it can occur in many different ways, but a meltdown is sure to be one of them since there is a lot of pressure going on in the average kitchen. For some chefs it’s not just the idea that you’re putting out food that you want people to enjoy, or that you want them to come back. For some there’s a transcendent glory to cooking that once obtained is hard to maintain but is more valuable than gold, and far too easy to obsess over.
Work in a restaurant, any restaurant, for a month or so and you’ll understand everything that’s been written here.
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