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Chronicle Recommends: Films About Chefs

By Chronicle Film Staff, May 24, 2017, 8:00am, Picture in Picture

Every month, the Chronicle’s film critics select a theme and offer movie recommendations. In honor of our annual First Plates awards, handed out earlier this month, we've chosen some of our favorite films about chefs.

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

Tao Chu is a master chef and a longtime widower, who is now retired. As well as losing his sense of taste, he is also losing touch with his grown daughters: an unmarried teacher, a corporate climber, and a fast-food worker at Wendy’s. The only hold this Taiwanese patriarch still has over his girls is his weekly requirement that they attend the elaborate Sunday dinners he prepares (a foodie’s delight to observe). The film is a tangy, early work by Ang Lee, who would go on to make such acclaimed films as Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain. – Marjorie Baumgarten

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Arguably one of the first plates our hairy, hangry ancestor chefs ever nibbled on was long pig, aka some of our other long-gone forebears. Rich and savory, the cinema du cannibalisme extends at least as far back as Chaplin’s Donner Party-inspired The Gold Rush, but it’s the brutal gag-reflexology of Ruggero Deodato’s invasive white people vs. toothsome Amazonians that stands unencumbered by good taste and enlivened by scenes of actual animal butchery that, in hindsight, likely aided and abetted the creation of both PETA, Morrissey, and, uh, Eli Roth. The genre’s original found-footage gruegasm remains the single best litmus test for horror fans' first date night. If your perceived paramour manages to devour it whole with stomach contents intact, he/she’s a keeper. – Marc Savlov

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)

Take one George Segal and one Jacqueline Bisset. Drop them into a charming and irresistible mystery comedy that jaunts around like a Grand Tour of murder. Add a heaping helping of Robert Morley, who played English pomposity like few others. Garnish with over-the-top desserts and meals that will make you weep with envy. Blend in some romance and some great camerawork, and cook for 112 minutes. The result is a delicious slice of Seventies cinema. – Josh Kupecki

Julie & Julia (2009)

This was the last film from comic nonpareil Nora Ephron. Honestly, half the movie ain’t so hot – that’s the half starring Amy Adams as a depressed blogger cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But the other half, the one with a boisterous Meryl Streep going big as the 6-foot, 2-inch tall Julia? Totally delightful. It chronicles her postwar arrival in France with diplomat husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) and her subsequent training at Le Cordon Bleu. Theirs is a funny, frisky romance, further distinguished by mutual respect and, bien sûr, a passion for French food. – Kimberley Jones

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