As The Menu opens in cinemas, we take a look at the most mouth-wateringly good foodie films ever.

Hurrah! Ralph Fiennes is back on the big screen with a new black comedy entitled The Menu. In this well-received movie, Fiennes plays the highly acclaimed and rather sinister head chef at an exclusive island restaurant. Along with an exquisite menu, he serves up a host of surprises that taunt his rich and spoiled diners.

Mocking those people whose motivation is to see and be seen, rather than to indulge in a genuinely delicious plate of food, The Menu can make for uncomfortable viewing. Society’s vanity winks out at us from every aluminium surface.

The Guardian says the film takes ‘aim at extreme wealth and the extreme stupidity of high-end restaurant excess’. It is a cautionary tale, for sure.

However, food has a rich history as a seam running through scores of excellent films, ones that celebrate food as nourishment, as an expression of love and as a wholesome force for good.

Here, for you to devour at your leisure, are the best examples of the foodie film genre.

Big Night (1996)

Set in 1950s New Jersey, this film provides viewers with an early sighting of Stanley Tucci and an excellent turn from Minnie Driver. A pair of bickering brothers – played by Tucci and Tony Shalhoub – have one night to turn around the fortunes of their Italian restaurant before it collapses in the face of competition. Charming and uplifting, Big Night sure makes you want to eat! Watch it.

Julie & Julia (2009)

Meryl Streep won an Oscar for her role as Julia Child in this biographical comedy, written and directed by Nora Ephron. On the one hand, we watch as Julia Child rises from housewife (her husband is played by Stanley Tucci) to famous cookery writer and TV chef in the 1950s. On the other, we follow Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams), an unfulfilled contemporary New Yorker, attempting to cook every one of Child’s recipes in 365 days and turning her journey into a blog. Julie sadly died recently at the age of 49. In her memory, trust us, this film will warm the cockles of your heart. Watch it.

Babette’s Feast (1988)

It is late in the 19th century and we are in a devout and aged Protestant village in Jutland. The late pastor was a powerful man, whose grown-up daughters try to continue his religious works among the po-faced community. The ladies take in a French refugee, Babette, who turns out to be a wonderful cook and stays to tend to the increasingly fractious congregation. When Babette receives a big lottery win, she spends it all on a marvellous seven-course meal for the villagers. With one fell swoop, the feast unites a neighbourhood that has been close to breaking point. Watch it.

Ratatouille (2007)

In this delightful family cartoon, a rat called Remy has a talent for cooking and dreams of running a restaurant in Paris. To achieve this dream, he leaves his family and pals up with an ill-treated restaurant garbage boy, gets into many a scrape, falls out with the garbage boy, reunites with his family and ultimately vanquishes the restaurateurs and becomes the finest chef in France. Ratatouille won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Watch it.

Chocolat (2000)

When a single mother and her daughter arrive in a small French village and set up a chocolate shop during Lent, the villagers are appalled. It isn’t long before the prim villagers are seduced, however, and allow the chocolate to awaken their passion. Food – in the unctuous form of chocolate – is a unifying force for a whole community once again in this happy-making movie starring Juliette Binoche and a very handsome Johnny Depp. Watch it.

Burnt (2015)

Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a burned-out chef set to lose everything. Struggling to pull himself together, he heads for London and a fresh start. Adam’s demons follow him there and all is not immediately plain sailing. Forced to work hard on himself, he eventually reforms, wins his new restaurant a third Michelin star and finds himself at peace. Gordon Ramsay was an executive producer, Marcus Wareing conceived the dishes and the stellar cast includes Sienna Miller, Lily James and Emma Thompson. Watch it.

By Becky Ladenburg
November 2022

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.