Our Top 14 Food Films

We love cooking food, eating food, talking about food and watching movies about food. We’re slightly obsessed with food … in a healthy way. Maybe you can relate.

At the office, we got to talking about food films that we love. The list got long- there are so many great films with food at the center of the plot.

This is the list of 14 highly-recommended movies for our fellow food lovers, in no particular order. Which of these movies have you seen? And which are missing from our list?

If you decide to make it a movie night, we suggest a big bowl of our duck fat and truffle butter popcorn – it’s a staff favorite and makes every movie tastier. And if you get hungry watching these trailers, head over to our website for recipes and inspiration.

1. Big Night (1996)

A fantastic film starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, with appearances by a young Marc Anthony, Allison Janney, Isabella Rossellini, Ian Holm, Liev Schreiber … but the point is the food. Two Italian brothers struggle with their restaurant, one committed to the business and the other to the art of authentic gastronomy. The kitchen scenes are memorable, the passion for food inspiring.

2. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

This documentary follows 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the first sushi chef to get 3 Michelin stars. His ten-seat restaurant in Tokyo is on the bucket list of every serious foodie in the world. This could be the best sushi on the planet. A beautiful film.

3. Babette’s Feast (1987)

One of the most moving cinematic depictions of the miracle of French cuisine. Based on an Isak Dinesen story and set in the 19th century in a Danish village; two sisters take in a French refugee, who happens to be a skilled chef. Babette creates a magnificent French meal with the finest imported ingredients, and it is stunning to watch. One of the classic recipes in the film – Cailles en Sarcophage – can be seen at the blog Lost Past Remembered, where it is recreated with our quail and foie gras.

4. Julie and Julia (2009)

Two true stories of two regular American girls who throw themselves into cooking with passion and abandon. One, the famous Julia Child, the other, a modern-day blogger, Julie Powell, who cooks her way through The Art of French Cooking. A story of redemption, failures and triumphs in the kitchen. It proves the enduring power of Child’s work. And it co-stars Stanley Tucci, so if you’re keeping track, he’s in two of our favorite food films. And in case you are wondering, he is a huge food fan, and author of a cookbook.

5. The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

Helen Mirren is a tour de force in this film about a restaurateur in a small village in France. Her hard-won Michelin stars must be defended against an Indian family who opens an restaurant right across the street from hers. The food, the kitchen scenes, the mushroom foraging, and a memorable omelette – we love this movie for so many reasons.

6. Like Water For Chocolate (1992)

A love story set in Mexico in 1910. Unrequited love finds a way to express itself in a torrent of recipes, which have the power to inspire emotions in those who eat them. Based on the novel by Laura Esquivel, the film is done in the style of magical realism.

7. Chef (2014)

A disillusioned chef walks away from the kitchen in a storm of controversy, only to rediscover his culinary passion in a food truck. Jon Favreau makes a convincing chef (his foodie cred is legitimate – the entire run of his IFC show Dinner for Five is streaming on YouTube) and his love of food is palpable. This is a fun ride!

8. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

We love the cooking scenes in Ang Lee’s film. Part of the pleasure of well-done food films is learning techniques and watching the process. A master chef in Taipei with three unmarried daughters holds the family together with the ritual of an elaborate Sunday dinner each week. And we mean elaborate!

9. The Lunchbox (2013)

Set in Mumbai, this film follows the famously efficient and complex lunchbox delivery system that is the envy of FedEx. When one lunchbox gets delivered to the wrong office worker, an epistolary relationship begins between he and the young housewife who made the lunch. A beautiful and moving story of human connection made because of food.

10. Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)

Starring George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Morley … this is a funny film and a real throwback. Great food scenes and an especially amusing food critic.

11. For Grace (2015)

Follow the life story of Curtis Duffy, a renowned chef who built his success out of a nightmarish personal life. Duffy’s ambition is to make Grace, his Chicago restaurant, the best in the country. With two Michelin stars, intense focus and a tremendous talent in the kitchen, Duffy’s journey is fascinating to follow.

12. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)

Lust…Murder…Dessert. Bon Appetit! So goes the tagline. Written and directed by Peter Greenaway, this film looks like a series of Dutch paintings. Odd and disturbing, the story follows the wife (Helen Mirren again!) of a crime boss who begins an affair with a bookseller between meals at a restaurant. There is a lot of sumptuous food, great design and color (Jean-Paul Gaultier did the costumes) and some memorable kitchen scenes. While it is beautiful, the film can also be brutal and shocking.

13. Ratatouille (2007)

An animated film that captured the hearts of food lovers – and animal lovers – and surely inspired a generation of young hopefuls to attend culinary school. Great fun in a great kitchen as a rat with real cooking skills discovers the joys of French cuisine.

14. Burnt (2015)

Bradley Cooper stars as a chef who destroys his career with bad behavior and drugs. In case you were wondering, the character is inspired by world-renowned chefs Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing and Clare Smyth. He aims for 3 Michelin stars and redemption at a top restaurant in London. The kitchen scenes are on point. Probably because real chefs were cast as extras, and Cooper and his co-star Sienna Miller trained with chefs to get their skills honed to a convincing level. They perform all their own kitchen “stunts.”

Tell us about your favorite food films. What should we watch next?  Tag us @dartagnanfoods on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. mawarre says:

    I think that Chocolat should most certainly be on this list. Johnny Depp, Juliet Binoche, Judy Dench, a french village, and lots of chocolate. It’s scrrumptious. margaret

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      You are not alone there! Lots of votes for Chocolat – we just had to limit the list. Let’s give it an honorable mention.

  2. Mr. Muckle says:

    The Japanese film “Tampopo,” about a woman who strives to open the best noodle restaurant in her town. I would also mention “Dinner Rush,” a wonderful suspense/crime drama set in a New York restaurant.

  3. Mary says:

    Dinner Rush should be on the list.

  4. amylou61 says:

    I’d add The 100 Foot Journey. Great movie with Helen Mirren

  5. Richard Watson says:

    Le Grand Bouffe and Mostly Martha (the German Original)

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      Yes, we agree with you!

  6. jjbirder@yahoo.com says:

    You missed the best food movie ever made!!! Tampopo- Japanese masterpiece about the achieving the best noodle shop in town. You Illiterate hacks!

    1. D'Artagnan says:

      We know … and agree. We have a new list coming out soon! This one should have ended with 10 films, but it just kept going.

  7. I’ve seen 1 through 8 (or read the book: Like Water for Chocolate). Who’s Killing the Great Chefs is impossible to get on Netflix. Did you have any luck? There is also Tampopo which I haven’t been able to get. But of the list you give, I love Big Night, Babette’s Feast, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. Thanks for putting this together. Yes, and Chocolat is also good.

  8. hollis517 says:

    i first read this post two years ago. since then, i’ve added to my scalps and have now seen 10 of your 14. IMO, nothing can attain the heights of BABETTE’S FEAST — i cry at the end, every single time. there is just so much positive emotion; it is a paean to the artistic spirit, told through one momentous meal. and, yes, the Cailles en Sarcophage is simply awesome. just watching this brief trailer brings tears to my eyes. BABETTE’S FEAST is one of the most profound films i have ever seen.

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