Cooking Movies to Inspire Your Inner Chef

bucket list of chef and cooking movies

We all have had mishaps in the kitchen, some of us have had more than others. But every great chef gets up and keeps going. Until they become a master chef. Until they get the girl. Until they save their restaurant. (At least in the cooking movies.)


Let’s start with one the whole family can enjoy.

Disney Pixar’s RATATOUILLE

A rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef despite his family’s wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the sewers of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. Despite the apparent dangers of being an unlikely, and certainly unwanted, visitor in the kitchen of a fine French restaurant, Remy’s passion for cooking soon sets into motion a hilarious and exciting rat race that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down.

Julie & Julia

In 1949, Julia Child (Meryl Streep) is in Paris, the wife of a diplomat (Stanley Tucci), wondering how to spend her days. She tries hat making, bridge, and then cooking lessons at Cordon Bleu. There she discovers her passion. In 2002, Julie Powell (Amy Adams), about to turn 30 and underemployed with an unpublished novel, decides to cook her way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year and to blog about it. We go back and forth between the stories of these two women learning to cook and finding success. Sympathetic, loving husbands support them both, and friendships, too, add zest.

Chocolat

Movie is based on the 1999 novel by Joanne Harris. 1960, small town France. Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche) and her young daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) move into town and open a chocolate shop just as Lent is beginning. The town’s small-minded Mayor Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) can’t accept this and does his best to shut her down, but her warm personality and incredible chocolates manage to win over many townsfolk. Things get shaken up even more when a group of river drifters, led by Roux (Johnny Depp), stop into town (to the even greater distress of the Mayor) and Vianne takes up with him. Meanwhile, she’s been helping Josephine Muscat (Lena Olin) out of her abusive marriage, and her equally freethinking landlord, Amande Voizin (Dame Judi Dench), get together with her grandson, Luc Clairmont Aurelien Parent Koenig), whose mother, Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss), doesn’t approve of Amande’s ways.

The Hundred Foot Journey

Put young Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) in a kitchen, and he’s bound to emerge with a dish that will dazzle. When Hassan’s family is forced to move from their native India, his Papa (Om Puri) relocates to a peaceful hamlet in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Determined to give his new neighbors a little taste of home, Papa decides to open an Indian restaurant in the village, and names it “Maison Mumbai”. Meanwhile, across the street at the traditional French restaurant Le Saule Pleureu, uptight proprietor Madame Mallory (Dame Helen Mirren) doesn’t exactly welcome the competition. When Madame Mallory ignites a bitter feud that quickly escalates, the only hope for a peaceful resolution lies in Hassan’s talent for French haute cuisine, and his growing affections for Madame Mallory’s pretty young sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). 

No Reservations

Kate is a terrific chef at a Manhattan restaurant, sent to therapy by the restaurant owner because she is cold, unyielding, rule-bound, and a pain in the neck. Kate’s world is flipped over when her only sister dies and her ten-year-old niece, Zoe, comes to live with her. As Kate struggles to be a parent to a grief-stricken child, the one world she used to control – the restaurant kitchen – is changed utterly by the restaurant’s hiring a second chef, the loose, operatic, Italian-trained Nick, who claims it’s an honor to work in Kate’s kitchen but who she suspects wants to replace her. Can the music of Puccini and the taste of good pasta soften Kate’s heart?

Chef

Jon Favreau (writer, director and producer) leads a hilarious all-star cast including Sofía Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. and young actor Emjay Anthony in this deliciously entertaining comedy about starting from scratch. When gifted chef Carl Casper (Favreau) suddenly quits his demanding job at a trendy LA restaurant, he’s on his own to pick up the pieces of his once promising career. Finding himself in Miami, he decides to team up with his successful ex-wife (Vergara), best friend (Leguizamo) and son (Anthony) to launch a no-frills food truck business. Taking to the road, Carl reignites his passion for the kitchen and, along the way, discovers a renewed zest for life and love.

Big Night

Primo and Secondo are two brothers who have emigrated from Italy to open an Italian restaurant in America. Primo is the irascible and gifted chef, brilliant in his culinary genius, but determined not to squander his talent on making the routine dishes that customers expect. Secondo is the smooth front-man, trying to keep the restaurant financially afloat, despite few patrons other than a poor artist who pays with his paintings. The owner of the nearby Pascal’s restaurant, enormously successful (despite its mediocre fare), offers a solution, he will call his friend, a big-time jazz musician, to play a special benefit at their restaurant. Primo begins to prepare his masterpiece, a feast of a lifetime, for the brothers’ big night.

Soul Food

Matriarch Mama Joe has held her family together for 40 years around a Sunday dinner of soul food. When diabetes hospitalizes her, the dinners stop and tensions among her three daughters start to break the family apart. Two of the sisters feud continuously: Teri is jealous of Maxine’s marriage and irritated that everyone assumes her corporate salary is open to the rest of the family’s uses. Maxine resents Teri’s bossiness and insensitivity to family tradition. Bird, the youngest, newly married to an ex-con, accepts a favor from an old lover that leads to her husband’s arrest. Mama Joe’s grandson Ahmad cooks up a scheme to bring the family together, back to the table.

Burnt

Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) had it all – and lost it. A two-star Michelin rockstar with the bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star though, he’ll need the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller).

Want more? See our bucket list of best movies by topic.

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