If you’re anything like most modern urbanites, you never seem to have enough time to cook yet somehow have hours to spare watching the Food Network. No judgment, of course. Alas, we live in a paradoxical era where the physical act of making a meal is lost on many (FYI, putting a plate under your take-out box from Fresh doesn’t count) but watching somebody else do PG-13 food porn via a laptop screen has never been more palatable. Unfortunately, however, even in the world of food television, summer scheduling still means it’s pretty much re-runs only for the next couple months. What’s an armchair gourmand to do?
Fear not, foodie friends! Hollywood has once again stepped up to save the day. It was only a matter of time before the insanely popular food television trend was picked up by the movie studios, and while we doubt Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio will be heading up a buddy cop caper anytime soon (though, really, that would be awesome) what Tinseltown has produced thus far has been nothing short of Michelin-star worthy. To help keep you from starving on a lack of tasty television this summer, here are our five favourite films from the last couple years bringing the foodie trend to the big screen…
A classic tale of the American dream in action, Spinning Plates brings together the stories of three very different, equally endearing restaurants and the people who have devoted their lives to them. Experience the heartbreak and hope as the culinary genius behind Chicago’s Michelin-starred Alinea grapples with a life-threatening illness; or the 150-year-old family restaurant in Iowa that rebuilds itself (twice) almost literally on a foundation of community love; or the tiny Mexican restaurant in Tucson that struggles just to stay afloat. Note: You’ll probably want to bring a tissue (or 12).
Fact: The only thing trendier on television than food right now is Sofia Vergara. Luckily for us, the buxom beauty is starring this summer alongside Jon Favreau and Scarlett Johansson in the comedy Chef. Favreau plays a chef (d’uh) who, down on his luck after a very public social media meltdown, decides to open a food truck alongside his ex-wife (Vergara). Unlike Toronto’s own food truck scene, however, we promise this film won’t be boring, disappointing, and unnecessarily restricted.
It was American comedian W.C. Fields who once said, “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food!” With that in mind, and in recognition of the important role crushed grapes play in foodie culture, it seemed only fitting to include a wino flick on this list. Narrated by Russell Crowe and premiered at last year’s TIFF, Red Obsession examines the trends of modern day wine culture including the shift of importance from Bordeaux to Beijing with China emerging as one of the world’s leading consumers of wine. Who knew, right?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
While most self-identifying foodies would never even consider eating from one of those hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” in the subway, Jiro Dreams of Sushi may change that. (Warning: Don’t actually eat Toronto subway food – that’s gross.) The film follows 85-year-old Jiro Ono, renowned as the world’s greatest sushi chef and the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant that just happens to be in Tokyo’s subway. People pay hundreds of dollars and wait up to a year to get a spot at one of Jiro’s tables, so Netflix is probably the closest most of us are ever going to get.
An instant Disney classic, Ratatouille has that magical quality not only of being entertaining to children but also enjoyable for parents as well. If the thought of being forced to sit through Frozen one more time makes you want to gouge your eyes out, plop your wee future-chefs in front of this one instead.
If we missed your favourite foodie films, let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.