Food is a huge part of life – that’s something we can all agree on. But, for some of us, food is more than just a means of survival – it’s a passion, an art form as beautiful as music or painting.
Culinary cinema combines two of our favourite art forms: food and film. Since the early days of cinema, food has been a popular point of discussion and focus on the silver screen, but in the past decade, we saw cooking shows and competitions such as MasterChef and Chef’s Table gain immense popularity.
For those who want a little feature-length foodie fun in between Netflix binges, here are our top food-related films of the 2010s:
This heartwarming comedy-drama features a stellar cast including comedy favourite Jon Favreau (who also directed the film), Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and even a cameo from Robert Downey Jr. Chef tells the story of Carl Casper, a chef who loses his job at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant and attempts to start afresh and get back to basics by opening a food truck. You’ll see the chef fall in love with food all over again, strengthening his relationships at the same time. Watch this for some feel-good vibes.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of those rare films that has garnered universal praise from both critics and audiences, foodies and film buffs. This fascinating documentary tells the story of Jiro Ono, the then 85-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant comprised of 10 seats, located in a Tokyo subway station. The film tells the tale of Jiro’s search for absolute perfection alongside the stories of his two sons, both sushi chefs, who struggle to live up to his father’s name. Since 2019, Sukiyabashi Jiro has been stripped of its Michelin stars owing to the decision to no longer accept reservations from the general public. Thankfully, the now 95-year-old Jiro’s sushi is preserved through this beautiful doc.
The Trip (2010)
Fans of British comedy will be no stranger to comedic gems Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who play exaggerated versions of themselves in this side-splitting TV-turned-film series. The first series, which was edited into a feature film, sees the duo on a restaurant tour of northern England. The second film (The Trip to Italy, 2014) finds them touring Italy, while the third (The Trip to Spain, 2017) see them in, well, Spain. The latest movie in the series (The Trip to Greece, 2020) follows Coogan and Brydon on their travels from Troy to Ithaca. In each, expect a hilarious journey complete with twists and turns, off-kilter humour, a love-hate relationship and copious amounts of delicious food.
The Search for General Tso (2014)
Ah, yes, the famous General Tso and his even more famous (in the Western world, at least) chicken. The sweet, deep-fried and slightly spicy General Tso’s chicken can be found on practically every North American Chinese restaurant’s menu. However, as this documentary shows, few people in China recognise the dish. The Search for General Tso examines not only the origin of this popular dish but also the culture and history surrounding Chinese-American cuisine. Both amusing and thought-provoking, this is an important film that focuses on the Chinese-American community, an ethnic group largely ignored or portrayed only through stereotypes up until recent years.
The Founder (2016)
When thinking of food as art, McDonald’s is probably not what comes to mind. However, topics surrounding what is undeniably the most popular and famous global restaurant chain continue to fascinate and divide diners. The Founder takes us all the way back to the beginning – to 1954, when McDonald’s was a small but busy, family-run, walk-up restaurant with impeccable quality and service. Michael Keaton expertly portrays Ray Kroc, a travelling milkshake-machine salesmen who stumbles upon McDonald’s and convinces the two McDonald brothers (played by the amazing Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) to franchise their successful restaurant. Without giving away too much, the history of McDonald’s is worth knowing, even if it is quite saddening.
So... what’s next on your watch list?
For more guides like this, sign up to receive our newsletter