What better way for restaurateurs, chefs and wait staff to spend weekend nights than to watch movies that has restaurant themes in it? Mixing pleasure with a little bit of business, that is. A number of movies are centered on restaurant operations, meal preparation and food, and watching these films bring us memories of our own experiences, allowing us to remember (or learn) an insight or two about our trade.
Julie and Julia
Food bloggers and food enthusiasts would love this movie, starred by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. This one’s a true story about Julie Powell (Adams), a food blogger who was challenged to cook all the recipes in American chef Julia Child’s (Streep) famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie circuitously compared the life of the famous chef in her early years as a chef with that of the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell who was obsessively devoted to her hobby– blogging and the challenge of completing all recipes in 365 days. The movie is a culinary entertainment that reflects the cultural patterns and attitude of the industry that we move in, as well as a fantasy movie that authenticates our belief that dreams do come true. Trailer of Julie and Julia
Big Night, a drama with comedic overtones, centers on two Italian brothers (Tony Shalhoub as Primo and Stanley Tucci as Secondo)who tried to run a constantly-failing Italian restaurant in New Jersey. The story tackles the common chef and restaurant operator’s dilemma of integrity and compromise–the brothers’ dishes being too authentic for their local market, but they couldn’t bring themselves to give up their principles and cooking style. They tried many ways to save their restaurant—one of these is making a gamble on everything they have to prepare a grand banquet for a celebrated singer, banking on the profits and newfound popularity afterwards. The movie was hailed not just for the way it was done, but also for the food preparations featured in their arrangements for the big night –all those food cinematography leaving the audience hungry and craving for more. Trailer of Big Night
The Ramen Girl
The Ramen Girl is an American-Japanese movie which starred Brittany Murphy, considered to be one of her most promising performances before her demise in 2009. Murphy played Abby, an American girl who was abandoned by her boyfriend in Tokyo and was left looking for direction in life in a strange country with a different culture. She met an aging master chef and convinced him to train her to become a ramen chef. Many of the scenes are in the kitchen and in the ramen shop, and watching the film would allow many chefs in chef clothing to remember how they were back when they were in training –how they started and how they eventually made it on their own. Trailer of The Ramen Girl
Ratatouille is a Pixar/Walt Disney film about a rat which dreamt of becoming a chef and eventually succeeded after a series of adventures. The movie’s plot was said to have been inspired by the life and death of famous French chef Bernard Loiseau who committed suicide after a string of setbacks deluged his restaurant operations in 2003. Remy, the rat, arrives in Paris to become a chef and learned that his cooking idol died. Despite many deterrents and obstacles, guided by his visions of the dead chef in chef clothing and his advices, Remy set out in going after his aspiration. The movie shows a lot of back of the house scenes which allow restaurateurs, chefs and kitchen staff to ponder on their own experiences, have a say or two, maybe. The movie also demonstrates how things can go with food critics and restaurant review surveyors. Trailer of Ratatouille
There are several other restaurant movies that didn’t make it to the best reviews, but do have numerous kitchen and restaurant scenes. Catherine Zeta Jones’ No Reservations, comedy film The Slammin’ Salmon, and independent film The Blue Diner have interesting stories too, and have a lot of insights about restaurant operations—not to mention ideas, dilemmas and dialogues that industry practitioners can strongly relate to.