I am the type of moviegoer who loves planning to dine out after a night at the movie theater, and chooses to save my appetite for when the credits roll. However, there are some films - such as Chef, for instance - that incorporate dining as an essential focal point to the story and might not be as suitable to watch on an empty stomach. Well, if you are not craving anything at the moment, you just might be by the time you are finished watching any of the following essential food movies that you can find now on streaming, rent digitally, or purchase on physical media, starting with one that, coincidentally, was first put into development under the original title Chef.
An American celebrity chef (Bradley Cooper) attempts to turn a low-rated London restaurant into a high-class hot spot for fine dining in an attempt to redeem himself after his destructive tendencies place him at the bottom of the food chain.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: A decade after starring as a chef in the short-lived sitcom Kitchen Confidential - based on a memoir by the late Anthony Bourdain - Bradley Cooper returned to the world of culinary arts in Burnt, a compelling dramedy from Oscar-nominated screenwriter Stephen Knight, which creates an authentic kitchen atmosphere with thanks to hands-on cooking experts.
No Reservations (2007)
An intimidatingly precise and temperamental chef (Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones) butts heads with her restaurant’s latest hire (DC movies veteran Aaron Eckhart), as she unexpectedly becomes a guardian to her young niece (Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin).
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: If the chemistry between Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart does not compel you, the food will, in No Reservations - a charming romantic comedy based on the 2001 German film Mostly Martha.
After his furious reactions to a harsh food critic ruin his career, the former head chef of a high-class restaurant (Jon Favreau) decides to invest in a food truck and attempts to reignite his reputation and his relationship with his estranged family.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Art imitates life in a more metaphorical sense for Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau’s return to more intimate films as the writer, director, and star of the delightful comedy Chef, which would later become a more literal part of his real life, too, as host of The Chef Show for Netflix.
Big Night (1996)
Two Italian-born brothers, one who specializes in the business (Stanley Tucci) and one who specializes in the food (Tony Shalhoub), make one last attempt to save their restaurant on the night that a famous singer is scheduled to visit, in 1950s New Jersey.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Another example of a Marvel movies veteran directing himself in a food movie is the acclaimed dramedy Big Night, which is the directorial debut of Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (and also co-directed by Campbell Scott, and co-written with Tucci by Joseph Tropiano), who also indulges in culinary arts in real life outside of his film career.
A smarter-than-average rat (Patton Oswalt) receives the chance to live out his dream of cooking fancy food with the help of a young, talentless kitchen worker as his “avatar” at a prestigious Paris eatery.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: I think we can credit Ratatouille - writer and director Brad Bird’s second Oscar-winning Pixar feature after 2004’s The Incredibles - with getting more young audiences interested in the world of fine dining, especially with its inspiring message that claims anyone (or even any species) can have what it takes to prepare great food.
Good Burger (1997)
A teenage slacker (future Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson) is forced to take a job for the summer at a local fast food place, but ends up teaming with his overly enthusiastic co-worker (Kel Mitchell, who once auditioned for SNL) in an effort to keep a corporate-run burger joint from running them out of business.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Another great food movie for kids with another inspirational message (this one about standing up for local businesses) is Good Burger, one of the first Nickelodeon movies, and one based on a sketch from the channel’s popular sketch comedy series, All That.
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
An office employee (Kal Penn) and his slacker best friend and roommate (Jon Cho) are desperate cure their serious case of the munchies after indulging in their favorite recreational activity, only to see their quest interrupted by a series of increasingly bizarre circumstances - including a surprise meeting with Neil Patrick Harris.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: White Castle - a restaurant famous for serving up sliders for the past century - is not for everybody, but you just might get a craving while watching the acclaimed comedy classic Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, especially if you happen to be under the same influences as its titular heroes.
A single mother (Oscar winner Juliette Binoche) and her daughter cause an uproar when they open up a business selling chocolates in a devoutly Catholic village in France, until the townsfolk try the product and begin to experience a change of heart and spirit.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: We have talked enough about your typical main dinner courses, and now is the time to move on to dessert, which has rarely looked as satisfying as it does in Chocolat - an Oscar nominated romantic dramedy (that also stars Johnny Depp in a supporting role) about learning how to rediscover the sweeter things in life by giving into your own sweet tooth.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
A poor boy named Charlie (Peter Ostrum) becomes one of five lucky children who randomly win the chance to take a tour of a renowned candy factory owned by a mysterious, eccentric recluse who has plenty of bewildering surprises in store for his guests.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Years after Chocolat, Johnny Depp would play the world’s most famous chocolatier in Tim Burton’s not-as-beloved remake of the classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which stars the late, great Gene Wilder in the title role of a man who makes the candy business look like a wild, unbelievable fantasy in ways that only the eccentric author Roald Dahl could.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)
A wannabe inventor (Bill Hader) finally earns the respect he has always dreamed of when creates a machine that allows food to fall from sky, which saves his financially starving town before, inevitably, causing even more problems for it.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Another wild, unbelievable fantasy story about food of varying sizes that is also based on a classic children’s book is the animated hit, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It's an inventive twist on the original story by Judi Barrett, from the dynamic co-writing and co-directing duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, that also boasts a stunning, star-studded cast of voice actors.
Sausage Party (2016)
A sausage named Frank (co-writer and co-producer Seth Rogen) learns the horrifying truth about his existence as a grocery store item and vows to warn his other edible friends before they end up on the menu.
Why it’s a truly delicious food movie: Another star-studded fantasy story about food that is also animated, but certainly not for children, is Sausage Party - an inventive twist on the plot of Toy Story that explores the world from the perspective of sentient food, which might actually have you thinking twice about your next bite.
It may seem a little messed up (and almost inhumane) to include a title like Sausage Party on a list of movies about delicious food, but what is wrong with throwing in a little extra variety for a good measure? Either way, all of these titles should have exactly what food lovers and movie lovers alike need to satisfy their appetites.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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