FOODIES who are also cinephiles are familiar with staples like Big Night and Babette’s Feast, or at least, Chocolat and Ratatouille. Plus there are scenes across genres—Meryl Streep separating eggs in The Hours, for instance—devoted to the creation and consumption of food. This month sees two food-themed movies getting a theatrical release—Un Samayal Arayil and Chef. While the first is a Tamil romantic comedy, starring Prakash Raj and Sneha Prassana, and inspired by a Malayalam film, Salt N’ Pepper, the other stars Jon Favreau, Dustin Hoffman and Scarlett Johansson. In keeping with this spirit, we get the city’s leading chefs to tell us which scenes or movies featuring food gave them an appetite for more. Text: Mrinalini Sundar
Chef Rajesh, The Park
I liked Julie & Julia a lot. Some of the challenges that Julie faces in the kitchen are comic and quite possible. There is a particular scene where Julie’s husband asks her, “What do you really like” and her answer is,“to eat”. That is pretty much my answer to everything,
which is why I chose to be a chef.
Chef Regi Mathew, consultant
I strongly recommend the Malayalam movie, Ustad Hotel. The values they give to food and how the hotel is portrayed is splendid. There is a nice scene where the protagonist learns from his grandfather. I also liked the movie, Spanish Masala, another Malayalam movie.
Chef Alok Anand, Taj Coromandel
My pick is Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, which revolves around the secrets of a recipe that gets passed down from one generation to the other. Recipe secrets are very close to a chef’s heart.
Chef Joseph, The Westin
My first choice would be Ratatouille, followed by Cheeni Kum, for I have had customers who have asked for an omelette without an egg and butter chicken without butter. It is similar to how actress Tabu and Amitabh Bachchan have an argument over the Hyderabadi biryani. Another favourite is the 1988 movie, Cocktail, where Tom Cruise turns into a bartender.
Chef Dharmen, The Leela Palace
I watch television shows like Master Chef, but I also liked Chocolat and No Reservations. It was nice to see Catherine Zeta Jones play a hot chef.
Chef Gopi, Hyatt Regency
The last food movie I watched was Nala Damayanthi, which is funny and depicts people from Palakkad well. I could also relate to it because it was shot in Australia and I lived there for a while. The movie shows how important chefs are, no matter which country they go to. I also liked Vijay’s Youth, where he plays a chef in the first half.
Chef Grzegorz Odolak, Park Hyatt
When I do get time to step out of my kitchen, I spend time with my children. In fact three weeks ago, I discovered Ratatouille, which is how a kitchen works in real life as well.
Chef Kaushik Shankar, Eatitude
I have a long list that I do not mind watching over and over, starting with Kung Fu Chefs. It shows the magical way of using knives, and some of those moves have helped me in my kitchen. I also like the 1958 movie, Mayabazar, and the song Kalyana Samayal in it.
Chef Ramki, Pizza Republic
Eat Pray Love touches a chord as I am into pizzas and the movie features one of the oldest pizzerias in the world. That place sells just two varieties of pizzas, but it is crowded all the time. It is a delight watching Julia Roberts bite into one of those crispy pizzas. I enjoyed the title song of the Malayalam movie, Salt N’ Pepper, which is themed around food.
Chef Praveen Anand, Sheraton Park
Cheeni Kum comes first to my mind. It is light-hearted and shows how temperamental chefs can be. I can assure you that all the chefs in the world are, at some point of time, temperamental. It is only with age and experience that they become more balanced.
Sandesh Reddy, restaurateur
I love Jiro Dreams of Sushi, as the the short film shows the relentless obsession of a chef to achieve perfection. It’s also interesting how Johnny Depp features in a lot of chocolate-themed movies, from Chocolat to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.