After the festive season many will turn to diets and detoxes in the New Year to make up for saying “just one more mince pie” a time or two too many. Though, there is a little-known diet trick that might be the answer to all your prayers; a way to consume food that’s a whole lot lighter on the digestive system, through movies. If you’re in the mood for something delicious tonight, then perhaps the answer isn’t on the stove, but on the screen. Get ready for a variety of flavours as you taste your way through our menu of foodie films.
1. Chocolat (2000)
Set in the 1960’s, a single mother, played by Juliette Binoche, moves to rural France with her six-year-old daughter and causes moral uproar among the conservative locals by opening an indulgent chocolate shop, during lent. “And it melts. God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure”, says one converted local of the sweet indulgence, and it isn’t long before the hearts of rest of the villagers are melted too. With Johnny Depp as a riverboat-dwelling gypsy, copious amounts of chocolate and romantic France, this film caters to all of your desires.
2. Big Night
If you’re in the mood for good Italian food, this comedic drama will satisfy your appetite. Stanley Tucci co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in this movie about a failing Italian restaurant run by two Italian emigrant brothers, Primo and Secondo, in 1950’s New York. “To eat good food is to be close to God”, says uncompromising, temperamental chef Primo, whose sophisticated Italian fare isn’t appreciated by the New Jersey locals. When offered an opportunity to to save their business, by cooking a meal for famous jazz man Louis Prima and his friends, they gamble all they have for their big night.
3. Ratatouille (2007)
In one of Pixar’s best loved animations, Remy, a rat with a sophisticated palette, comes to Paris to fulfil his dream of being a chef. When he scampers into the kitchen of the once-great restaurant Gusteau’s, he teams up with the awkward garbage boy Alfredo Linguini to bring both their cooking dreams to life. Culinary creativity and chaos ensue as the loveable rat and his human ally try to cover their tracks from vengeful ex-head chef Skinner, and impress food critic Anton Ego, voiced by Irish acting institution Peter O’Toole.
4. The Lunchbox (2014)
First time director Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai-set romance revolves around the city’s famously efficient Dabbawalas, a lunchbox delivery system delivering hot meals from the kitchens of housewives to the offices of their husbands. This is the story of the one in apparently 4 million lunch boxes that goes astray, when a mistaken delivery connects a solitary widower, Bollywood star Irfan Khan, to a lonely young housewife. United in their loneliness, they build an unexpected friendship that borders on romance through notes in the daily lunchbox, showing how sometimes “the wrong train can get you to the right station“.
5. Babette’s Feast (1987)
Although released over 28 years ago the culminating scene in this Oscar-winning film is still one of the most beautiful, bountiful banquets ever depicted in cinema. Set in a remote 19th Danish century village, the movie shares the story of two sisters who lived somber, strict lives caring for their father, the local minister. After their father’s death they take in a French refugee, Babette, who after winning the lottery repays the sisters for their kindness with a decadent French meal, which the entire usually austere village gets to indulge in.
6. I Am Love
This film tells the story of a Russian woman, played by Tilda Swinton, who is the matriarch of the powerful Milanese family she married into. She leads a stylish and controlled but unfulfilled life which shaken up when she falls for a friend of her son, a young working-class chef. This incredibly glamorous and glossy drama portrays the inner workings of the Italian upper crust as well as some lavish food scenes.
7. Julie & Julia (2009)
Stuck in a soul-sapping job, New Yorker Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, sets herself a challenge to cook through 524 recipes from Julia Child’s landmark cookbook in 365 days. The story intertwines with another; of how the culinary legend Child, Meryl Streep, conquered the art of French cooking. By working her way through the butter laden recipes, the frustrated office worker finds a new recipe for life.
8. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
This Taiwanese film revolves around the dinner table of a widowed, talented Chinese chef and his three grown daughters, and their ritual of an elaborate family meal every Sunday. Each mealtime, two things are guaranteed, heavenly food and a fresh clash between the modern, independent daughters and their traditional father. “Raising daughters is like cooking a meal. You lose your appetite by the time you’re finished”, laments the father. Worth of it’s foreign-film Oscar nomination, this movie about family, food and eating together, made the name of Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee.
9. Chef (2014)
Jon Favreau stars as Carl, a chef at an upscale restaurant who feels artistically conflicted following the repetitive menu insisted upon by his boss. When he his frustrations come to a boil and he loses his temper with a restaurant critic, he consequently loses his job. He gets back to his cooking roots making Cuban sandwiches in a food truck driving from Miami to LA, bonding with his estranged son along the way. Despite featuring two of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson, the most drool worthy scenes undoubtedly involve food, so much so that the movie has even spawned its own e-cookbook.
10. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 & 2005)
No foodie film list would be complete without the movie set in perhaps the food smothered location ever imagined; a glorious chocolate factory, where even the wallpaper tastes great. There are two movie adaptations of Roald Dahl’s chocolate classic, in both you follow a poor boy’s tour through a surreally beautiful and bizarre candy factory, led by it’s eccentric owner Willy Wonka. Not all is what it seems though, as the sugar-blasted world treats only well-behaved children though, and becomes a gooey grave for the others.
11. Haute Cuisine (2012)
Based on a true story, Hortense Laborie is a celebrated chef in small-town France who is suddenly tapped by the President of the Republic to be his personal cook. The president, who takes a shine to Hortense, asks her to forgo edible flowers and cook the food of his youth. Battling the jealousies of the palace’s other chefs and the President’s dieticians, Laborie makes her mark with indisputably amazing cooking. Think glossy reductions, plump escargot, rich duck breasts layered with delicately cooked vegetables. While the President might run the country, she runs the kitchen.
12. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Based on a 1980’s children’s book of the name, in this animated comedy a misfit scientist thinks he has the answer an island town’s economic crisis; a machine that turn water into food. Things take a tasty twist when it starts converting the water in the atmosphere into food. Though an ice cream storm might sound delicious, soon the machine threatens to bury the whole world under a giant mound of food.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after a brief dalliance with law, she completed a Masters degree in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.