The Best Food Movies

If I’m going to be real with you (all 3 of you who read this blog) – -blogging is hard. I have to think of something to cook interesting enough to blog about, cook it, remember to take pictures, edit and upload pictures, try to write something witty etc., etc.  And even though it all brings you joy, sometimes you get into a funk where you can’t even muster the energy to do the things that bring you joy.

But today, I am making a concerted effort to bring back the blog (for maybe the 3rd time).  And since I don’t have any real recipe-in-the-making pictures right now, I turn to my other love: movies.  Great, well shot, beautifully written movies.  In my humble opinion, these are the best food  movies out there and a lot of them are available on Netflix!

1. Julie and Julia

Based on a true story of one blogger (Julie) who cooks through Julia Child’s cookbook juxtaposed against the story of Julia in France when she goes to Le Cordon Blue and discovers her passion and talent for cooking.  Normally I am of the opinion that this movie would be even better if we just left the whole Julie part out and made it a Julia Child biopic.  But at this moment in my life, Julie is my spirit animal.  Working at a soul crushing job that she can’t quit because they have to have the money, cooking is her escape.  Her mini meltdowns that used to irritate me now resonate–she feels such a lack of control in her world that a simple act of dropping a chicken on the floor results in a meltdown.  Her husband tries to be sympathetic, but he doesn’t fully understand since he doesn’t have to live through the job day after day after day…   And I think that’s what makes this movie so good in the end– it has layers.  It isn’t just a simple girly flick about a blogger, it’s about the struggle that all of us feel to find what we love and the difficulty of pursuing it in a society that wants you to tow the line.  And butter. Lots of glorious butter.

Favorite Scene: The sole meuniere at the beginning.  When I went to Paris, it was the first thing I ordered to eat and it was all I had dreamed of.

2. Chef

I have loved Jon Favreau ever since I first encountered him in one of my favorite romantic comedies, Love & Sex (I was less enamored with his character in Swingers) and this movie just cinched it for me — the man is a genius.  This movie is about a chef who quits his restaurant job (where he is forced to cook nothing but filet mignon and chocolate lava cakes) to open a food truck.  He drives around the country making amazing food, reconnecting with his son and discovering true creativity and happiness.

Favorite Scene:  The grilled cheese.  Just… wow!  And perfect song choice as well.

(The company won’t allow embedded video of this clip. Here’s a link) Chef Grilled Cheese scene

3. Bottle Shock

Wine is fascinating and the stories behind it even more so.  Bottle Shock follows the true story of the rise of Northern California wines and the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris.  Alan Rickman plays a British man who travels to America to see if the rumors about California wines are true — are they really good enough to rival French wines?

Favorite Scene: Rickman waxing poetic about wine on the side of the road while trying to digest the not-so-poetic KFC bucket,

4. Le Chef (or Comme un Chef!)

This fabulous French film follows an aspiring chef that just can’t hold down a job because his standards are too high. A lover of Bocuse and fine dining, he insists that diners eat food a certain way. Eventually he had to take a job painting a retirement home to make ends meet, but spends the whole time in the kitchen telling the clueless chefs there what to do. Along the way, he meets a famous French chef, known for his Michelin star restaurant and TV spot, and the two form an unlikely bond. The film explores the convergence of classic and modernist cooking in a humorous way.

Favorite Scene: Unfortunately I couldn’t find a version with subtitles, but in this scene the main character argues with a customer over having a red wine with veal blanquette which gets him fired. He then ends up at a betting bar of sorts. Everyone here immediately starts ordering their regular meals– steak with fries, chicken with fries etc. He reveals a menu of butternut squash soup and complicated sides. The customers ask if he has any fries.  He doesn’t.

5. Somm

This documentary is fantastic! It’s funny, dramatic, at times heart breaking. It follows several people as they prepare for the Master Sommelier test given by the Master Court of Sommeliers. Several years ago I inquired about taking their basic class (not even for Master, just regular) any they politely told me I was not welcome because their courses are not for “the casual wine drinker.” A snobby group? YES! But a fascinating look into what it takes to become a Master Sommelier.

Favorite Scene: I give you the trailer since I could not find any scenes from this movie.

6. The Lunchbox

This little-known film comes to us from India and is not to be missed. It centers around a wife who is trying to gain the attentions of her emotionally-absent husband by cooking him amazing lunches. But the lunchbox is delivered to the wrong man… the two begin a friendship through the notes they leave each other in the lunch tin as it travels back and forth each day.

Favorite Scene: When she cooks paneer. But that clip alone isn’t available, here is the trailer.

7. Ratatouille

I mean, really, what food movie list is complete without this? I don’t care how old you are, this is an awesome movie. It also might make you want to get a pet rat and put a cute little chef hat on it. No more explanation necessary.

Favorite Clip: I have two. The best is at the end when the food critic takes his first bite of the ratatouille and all the memories come flooding back. The power of food. The other is this cute little bit when Remy fixes the soup.

8. The Trip

This movie holds a special place in my heart. My mom and I saw this together during a trip to NYC at the IFC theater. We knew nothing about the movie– we just wanted to sit in the dark AC for a little bit (we maybe had a lot of wine the previous night). I still have the ticket stub. The premise of this is that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon essentially play themselves. Rob is doing a tour of great Northern British restaurants for an article he’s been asked to write. Steve comes along. The amateur food critic tries to be classy but the conversation quickly devolves… Also a lot of great British humor (or humour, if you will).

Favorite Scene: Rob and Steve are at one of those fancy restaurants that does a lot of little courses and things with foam and dust and emulsions. They discuss an herb drink they’ve been given. Wait until the end when the waiter comes over and tell me you haven’t been there.

9. Haute Cuisine

A great French film based on the true story of Hortense Laborie who becomes Francois Mitterand’s official cook. She has to battle for respect in a male-dominated kitchen and makes some damn good food along the way. And she does it all in heels and fabulous outfits.

Favorite Scene: There isn’t much available on YouTube, but the trailer is great:

10. Ramen Girl

The late Brittany Murphy was perhaps best known for her role as Tai in Clueless, but she did a lot of smaller movies like this.  They may not have the best production value or even the best writing but the story is captivating.  In Ramen Girl, Brittany is abandoned by her fiancé shortly after moving to Japan to be with him.  In her despair, she wanders into a closed ramen shop across the street (which she doesn’t realize is closed thanks to the language barrier).  She develops a love for the food and forms a friendship with the owner, whom she convinces to teach her how to make ramen.

Favorite Clip: this is a combination of 2 clips.  The beginning I mentioned above and one from the next day when she returns for a second bowl.  It shows the transformative power of food and reminds me of the first time I had authentic ramen.  I had no idea that simple broth could have that much flavor or noodles be that perfect.

I am sure there are other wonderful ones that I haven’t included — feel free to add to the list in the comments.


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Categories: Foodie Products and Events, General, Media review


A former English teacher living in Stuttgart, Germany who finds some sanity and peace through cooking.


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