From a classic award-winner released in the 1980s to more modern films featuring leading Hollywood stars, there have been plenty of delicious food movies served up to us over the years.
Have we left out your favourite food film? Grab the popcorn and let’s find out.
Ten movies for food lovers
- Ratatouille (2007)
- Babette’s Feast (1987)
- Chef (2014)
- Burnt (2015)
- Chocolat (2000)
- Julie & Julia (2009)
- Big Night (1996)
- Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
- The Trip (2010)
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
One of the reference point films in all of animation history. A country rat named Remy realizes his dream of becoming a chef by forming an unlikely yet charming alliance with a kitchen worker in Paris named Linguine. Remy proves the old adages that anything can be achieved should we set our minds to it and that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Ratatouille, like any animated classic, resonates with people of all ages, but it’s also a genuine masterclass of storytelling and a visual feast all rolled into one. Stripped down to its simplest form, this is a movie about a rat who makes ratatouille. What’s not to love?
The first Danish film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Gabriel Axel’s “Babette’s Feast” is an undoubted classic that drives home the themes of self-sacrifice and expansion of one’s beliefs. Geoff Andrew called it “A truly lovely tale of everyday passion, magic & miracles.”
The charming Jon Favreau directs and stars in this comedy about a head chef who loses his restaurant job and buys a food truck. Refreshingly in this film, food remains the main attraction and the food is unpretentious, delicious and beautifully shot. An all-star cast including Sofía Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and a cameo from Robert Downey, Jr. only enhances its appeal. Favreau’s goal of falling in love again with the creative and authentic side of cooking makes for a seriously feel-good story.
Adam Jones is a chef who destroyed a promising early career with drugs and prima donna behaviour. He cleans up his act and returns to London, with his eyes on the ultimate prize in cheffing: Michelin stars. Anything with Bradley Cooper is generally pretty watchable because let’s be real, who doesn’t love Bradley Cooper?
The A-list superstars keep coming with Judy Dench, Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It’s crazy to think that this film was released 21 years ago, does that make it a retro classic? Probably. Dench and daughter Binoche open up a chocolate shop in a small conservative French village where the locals are initially hostile to their visitors. It’s disarming and charming and, like with many of Lasse Hallström’s flicks, it gets you thinking.
Julie & Julia
No list of brilliant films is complete if the iconic Meryl Streep doesn’t appear on it somewhere. Streep plays Julia Child, a major figure in introducing French cuisine to the American middle classes who also became a pioneer TV chef and prolific cookbook author later in her career. Like in two of Nora Ephron’s other major films, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Settle, the two main characters in Julie & Julia lead parallel lives. As with all of Ephron’s writing, this story is delightfully told.
Set in a small town on the New Jersey Shore in the 50s, two Italian immigrant brothers, Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) struggle to Americanize themselves and their food offering. A rival Italian restaurant threatens to put them out of business, so they hatch a plan.
Eat Drink Man Woman
Set in Taipei, this sumptuous comedy directed by the legendary Ang Lee tells the story of an old chef who lives with his three grown daughters. His artistic creations in the kitchen are made completely from memory and resemble works of art, and the film uses Chu’s artistry as a prism through which his life is examined. Part comedy, part drama, part romance, this foreign film has a bit of everything.
Steve Coogan is an incredibly funny man. If you’ve seen him in Saxondale and Alan Partridge, you’ll already know this to be true. In The Trip, he and his best friend Rob Brydon play fictionalized versions of themselves, reviewing some of the finest restaurants in Northern England. Their dialogue is unbeatable. The Trip also comes in the form of a four-season series, and two subsequent films have been released in 2014 and 2017, where Brydon and Coogan tour Europe.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
A moving and painfully beautiful reminder of the sheer craftsmanship and artistry that goes into making sushi. Legendary 85-year-old Jiro Ono is world-renowned as the planet’s finest and most skilled sushi craftsmen. We, too, often dream of sushi, and this magical movie takes you inside Sukiyabashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant inside a subway, where Jiro strives for perfection.
“There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.”Jiro Ono, shokunin (sushi craftsman)
We’ve been in the kitchen a lot in the last week, as per usual, and perhaps now is the time to try your hand at the newest recipe on our site. Yes, the name of this apple crumble with orange creamed goats cheese & honeycomb nut brittle is a mouthful, and yes, it is insanely delicious.
With all that’s happening this week in South Africa, it’s probably a good time to start nailing down your favourite movie snacks and making inroads on this amazing list of food films.
BONUS SCENE: Lady and the Tramp didn’t quite make the cut but this scene will forever be iconic: