Chef’s Movie Night Suggestions…
Slightly different angle this month. I’ve just compiled a list of films and tv shows which I have watched or had recommended to me by other chefs. No rants or industry observations. Just me, the remote control and a day off. So getting straight in to it….
My first movie is a film which put the idea of being a chef, in to my mind. Quite bizarre actually, as the film is a little odd and dark…some may say that sums me up too. With an all-star cast featuring Helen Mirren, Tim Roth and Michael Gambon. “The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” is top of my list of chef films. From 1989 it features costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and was directed by Peter Greenaway. It is a classic British film set in the criminal underworld headed by a young(er) Dumbledore. This is a very stylish film. They way the costumes were changed in colour for each room change in the restaurant is just captivating. I suggest watching with a bottle of red wine and some cheese.
2. Very different from the previous film. “Under Siege” is quite simply awesome. To sum up. Steven Seagal is a chef. Well ex-Navy Seal who kicks arse! Ok. So it is a little ridiculous but I love it. The trailer alone will make any chef proud. No wine required for this one.
3a&3b. For number three on my list, I am actually going to include two movies. They are very recent and most chefs may well have seen or heard of them already. This list is really aimed at the more obscure films which you may not have seen. So. “Chef” is way better than “Burnt”. The movie “chef” has a better story, better cast and is more believable. Whereas I found that “Burnt” showcased some great cliché chef moments, it had too many holes and I found I was probably more interested in the lead character’s back story, than the tale told in the film. Both well worth watching even if it is just for the smouldering beauty of Scarlett Johanssen or the insane handsomeness of Bradley Cooper.
4. Back to the classic artsy films. “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” is a Taiwanese movie directed by Ang Lee. You will be hungry while watching this 1994 movie about a dad and his three daughters. I’ll be honest here. I enjoyed the cooking scenes more than I liked the movie as a whole. But again, well worth checking out.
5. Sticking with Asian cuisine. Here is a movie I have not seen yet. The trailer captivated me and I’m still waiting for a DVD to become available “Cook Up a Storm” is simply spectacular visually. With lots of “Chef’s Table” style cinematography. I can’t wait to see it first-hand. I can only hope that the storyline is enough to maintain my attention. Does look good though.
6. With that. “Chef’s Table” is a Netflix exclusive series which is the absolute benchmark in food photography and a visual joy. It offers a real insight into the drive of some of the best chefs in the world and I would encourage any chef who strives for excellence to enjoy an episode when they can.
7. I recently found out that this next film featured a young Michael Gove. You know? The politician. Don’t let that put you off. “A Feast at Midnight” is another movie from the 90’s which I rather enjoyed. It stars Christopher Lee as a head master of a boarding school. That is scary enough for me. But this classic little British film tells the story of some young lads sneaking into the kitchens at night to have late night cooking sessions. Good, old fashioned fun.
8. This next movie is another which I am yet to see, but several chefs and foodies have told me that it is a real gem. “Big Night” from 1996 is in my Amazon basket. Please comment below if you have seen it and let me know your view.
9. From the BBC, I give you “Chef!”. A TV series starring the comedy champion that is Lenny Henry. Possibly his greatest work. He plays Gareth Blackstock, the head chef of a fancy restaurant. I’m not sure who the chef advisor was on this show, but there are so many nuggets of realism in it that only true chefs could ever relate to. Like losing a blue plaster while making the ravioli. Too funny. This is definitely worth finding a DVD box set.
10. Finally, this is yet another which I am yet to see, but have had recommended to me by several chefs, cooks, foodies and film lovers. Babette’s Feast. I’ve seen the trailer and it doesn’t really appeal to me. The fact that I rate Under Siege as a classic really should give you an idea of my level.
Please feel free to comment with any other films or TV show you may feel I’ve missed. I’m sure there are plenty but i’ll happily add and good suggestions to this post.
Honorable mentions to: Kitchen Confidential (TV series), Pie in the Sky (TV series) and Chocolat
Dishonorable mention goes to Ratatouille. Hate it! enough said!