Editor’s Notes: Chef opens today in wide release.
Food is as much a constant for humanity as sex and death, but far fewer films seem exclusively dedicated to the subject. Maybe this is because food can take on so many connotations and serve so many varied functions, from production through consumption, that the contours of a “food genre” can be hard to pinpoint. Lots of movies have communal meals of one kind (the prison feast in Goodfellas) or another (Viridiana‘s blasphemous last supper); restaurant scenes feature prominently in everything from When Harry Met Sally… to The Trip. Dishes can represent desire, control, family, artistry, sadness, and everything in between.
The newest food-centric film is Jon Favreau’s Chef, in which a fired restaurateur takes a cross-country trip in a food truck to reignite his culinary spirit. My own Top 10 includes a wide range of places, tones, and genres, all tied together by a singular focus on what bodily (and sometimes emotionally and spiritually) sustains us all. Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments. Bon appétit.