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April 25, 2024


The year was 2003 (or thereabouts) and being a new soldier who had just enough time under his belt to start dreaming of other things and enough money to be dangerous, I started consistently watching Emeril Live with Emeril Lagasse. His made-for-television personality and signature catchphrases “Bam!” and “Oh, yeah baby!” were enough to draw a cocky young man into the cooking world. Just so you know, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so the idea of being able to create fine-dining, restaurant-quality dishes of my own seemed like a dream too far until he first showed me it was possible (thanks TV!). It was official, I was a foodie!

It wasn’t until later that I learned about the real rough and tumble culinary world from other heroes like Anthony Bourdain. In his book Kitchen Confidential, he discusses how Emeril (or at least “TV Emeril”) was a bit of a façade; however, I later found out that Emeril actually is the real deal, just don’t trust the TV version…no wonder I have trust issues. Either way, there are culinary shows on 24/7 nowadays, with a myriad of cooking challenges and scenarios to feed the food fantasist.

Upon retiring from the Army, I was able to live out a lifelong dream by enrolling in culinary school. Now, I work part-time for the University of Tennessee, cooking at their conference center. I have my own set of knives and everything! All I’ve said so far is to say that, even if things lose their luster a bit when you dive deeper, you can never really lose it for food. I mean, you still need to eat three times a day. So, here’s a shout out to the people who are doing it for real every day. It is an extremely tough career that pays very little, except to those at the very top and the recent trend of lucky social media chefs.

For my fellow foodies, I want to feed you some delicious films to satisfy what you might be hankering for. I am choosing to ignore some of the ridiculously good documentaries out there, but if you managed to somehow miss Jiro Dreams of Sushi or Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain, stop and watch both now. Just kidding, finish my article and then watch them. Then, maybe decide to cook something tonight; just look up a recipe and jump in. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just fresh; or maybe you decide to support those who are out there throwing down on the line every day by dining out locally! Either way, the menu is looking good!

CHEF (2014)

Chef is probably the most realistic of the more popular fictional foodie films. Jon Favreau plays the passionate chef to a T, and the rest of the cast is star-studded. Most importantly, though, the romantic notion of traveling the country with visions of the associated food porn is enough to make anyone contemplate quitting their job to open their own high-risk food truck venture. Oliver Platt plays the daunting and unflappable food critic, whose eventual friendly turn gives me hope for my own associated guilt as a sideline critic. Of note: the spinoff television series, The Chef Show, is brilliant in its own right, as it showcases the real-deal chef and owner of the popular Kogi restaurant, Roy Choi, who inspires much of the realism we get to appreciate in the film.


Sideways might not be strictly in the food realm, but most would include winos into the foodie scene since they are often one and the same. It also is an excuse to shamelessly plug 2023’s The Holdovers as Paul Giamatti continues to act so aptly as writer/director Alexander Payne’s drunken muse. Set in Napa Valley, expectations are upset as the true imperfect nature of our humanity is demonstrated by how we sometimes can take things just a little too far. Be sure to splurge on a good bottle of wine, at least $18 (or at least don’t go boxed this time, you heathen!), when you sit down to watch because you will regret not having one once you’ve started.


Ratatouille is the greatest Pixar film of all time, and if you are a chef knife-wielding fiend like me, I think you can agree. Yeah, yeah, Toy Story is good, but Ratatouille is a movie for the people, no matter your age. It features the most unlikely of characters, Remy (Patton Oswalt) — a rat who realizes his dream of becoming a top French chef. There are few films that can have us cheering for a rat to succeed, yet that is exactly where we find ourselves. The underlying story inspires us all to follow our dreams, and as a simultaneous bonus, it features a pretty accurate account of the challenges one faces in the world’s best kitchens. Incidentally, the Ratatouille ride at Disney’s Epcot is a pretty good time too!

JULIE & JULIA (2009)

Julie & Julia tells the simultaneous story of how Julia Child (Meryl Streep) got her start in the culinary world and how the late Julie Powell (Amy Adams) worked her way through the famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Streep and Stanley Tucci (playing Child’s husband, Paul) play the epitome of what a couple should be, sublimely displaying their quirkiness, love for food, and adoration for each other. Admittedly more saccharine than other culinary cinematic outings, it is still a terrific true story that features some very adorable people displaying their affection by way of something so many of us do: cooking for others.

BURNT (2015)

Full disclosure, Burnt released to very mixed reviews. Yes, it is filled with clichés, with Bradley Cooper playing a “burnt-out” high-level chef in yet another redemptive tale. However, despite people’s criticism of its superficiality, I happen to love it. I have watched this movie over and over, and although it may be trope-tastic, it’s that way for a reason. It reveals what it is often really like in the high-stakes, high-pressure kitchens of the world’s very best restaurants. The script may be lacking some seasoning, and the romantic subplot could have been left out, but

none of that matters because this is right up the kitchen-obsessed foodie’s alley.

PIG (2021)

Pig features Nicolas Cage at his absolute best, and it is a complete departure from the more cliché films that have been listed so far. Cage plays Rob, a former top executive chef turned reclusive hermit. We find that he has left the superficial and hedonic culinary world to live a simpler life, but he is still tied to his past by hunting truffles with his treasured pig. When his cherished pet-turned-friend goes missing, he must to step away from the simple life and back into the world he left behind, forcing him to deal with his trauma and loss. The film is a terrific surprise in its multi-layered, complex, and nuanced approach. Essentially, it’s a measured John Wick for foodies.

THE MENU (2022)

The Menu is perhaps the most unique offering of those served up here. It is an extremely dark comedic satire that makes fun of the pretense that often precedes self-proclaimed foodies, at least the more serious ones. Its thematic messaging attempts to focus on the “why” behind our infatuation with food in the first place as it violently does away with the ridiculous artsy-fartsy crap. Anya Taylor-Joy delights as always, and I can’t help but think that righteous justice is ultimately served up in the end.


I know it’s not a film, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Bear. If you were a fan of Shameless, particularly Jeremy Allen White’s character Lip, AND you’re a foodie, you need not look any further than FX’s The Bear for your tailor-made amalgamation of jacked-up awesomeness. This is hands-down the most real portrayal of what the twisted, wonderful back kitchen is really like, especially as it examines the personalities that choose to “bear” it (I had to). Attention to detail is of the utmost importance, from the fantastic culinary books displayed on the kitchen’s bookshelves to the cleverness of having the maintenance man, Neil Fak (played by legit chef Matty Matheson), forbidden from cooking. If you haven’t seen it, try Season One as an amuse bouche. I promise you will be locked in for the second season course, then impatiently waiting for the third.

Photo Credits: Photo 1 - Open Road Films; Photo 2 - Fox Searchlight Pictures; Photo 3 - Walt Disney Studios; Photo 4 - Sony Pictures Releasing; Photo 5 - Lantern Entertainment; Photo 6 - Neon; Photo 7 - Searchlight Pictures; Photo 8 - FX

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