Food is such a powerful element in our lives. It nourishes us, fuels our bodies, brings people together, tells stories, and transports us with its delicious flavors. While food is a wonderful medium for creativity, the artistry extends to food on the big screen, opening audiences’ minds (and stomachs) to cooking internationally.
These are the best movies about cooking that serve up a wholesome meal for the heart and soul.
The 100-Foot Journey follows the journey of the Indian Kadam family travels to France in search of a new chapter in their lives after facing violence in India that makes them feel unsafe. In love with cooking, the Kadam family used to own a restaurant back home, and when fate brought them to a little French town where they saw an abandoned property, they decided to buy the land and turn it into a restaurant.
However, just across the street, a French restaurant with a Michelin star is located which poses a great threat to the family as the restaurant before could not survive. Yet, Abbu, Hassan’s father is confident in his son’s ability to cook delicious food. When the owner of the French restaurant, Madame Mallory takes a look at their creative and original menu, she feels threatened by the potential they have to be different and to attract customers, and so a war between the two restaurant owners erupts. However, a twist of events brings the owners of the two restaurants closer together.
This movie beautifully embodies the idea of cultural diasporas and how openness to new people and new perspectives can be life-changing, in cooking or other aspects of life. The 100-Foot Journey is a movie with gorgeous cinematography and food you shouldn’t miss.
14 No Reservations (2007)
This charming movie follows the story of Katherine Armstrong, a head chef at a high-profile restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village who is married to her kitchen. She has no other interests and obsesses over every detail in the kitchen, which she sees a therapist for. However, due to a tragic event that forces her to become the guardian of her niece, Zoe, the restaurant’s owner Paula hires another sub-chef, Nick, in order to help Katherine with the work pressure now that she’s taking care of her niece.
Laid back, fun, smart, and the total opposite of Katherine, Nick has a way of cooking and directing the kitchen staff cheerfully. However, what starts as a threat to Katherine ends up changing a thing or two in her outlook on life and cooking. No Reservations has a very nice atmosphere in it, coupled with a lovely cast, and appetizing food that will make this watch an entertaining one.
13 Little Italy (2018)
Little Italy tells the story of two families whose love for each other and cooking has allowed them to excel in their joint venture to create the best pizzeria in Toronto’s Little Italy. However, despite their shared unbreakable history, one day in particular turns them into rivals. With the two families now opening their own pizzeria right next to each other, their competition is sky-high.
Despite their parents’ rivalry, when the two long-lost best friends and talented chefs Nikki and Leo reunite after Nikki moves back from London, they change everything about their family’s cooking and dynamics with each other. Little Italy is a feel-good movie that is perfect for all pizza-lovers. It is filled with pizzas that look mouth-watering and is full of descriptions that will tingle your taste buds. Elements such as crust, sauce, and sweet vs. sour are mentioned throughout the movie. This story is a light-hearted one that will remind you that shared creativity is one of the best ways to reach the highest form of mastery.
12 Burnt (2015)
Burnt tells the story of Adam Jones, a talented chef who had a strong cooking career going for him until he lost it due to drug abuse and a temperamental attitude. In an attempt to get his life back together, Adam tries to sober up and get back into the kitchen, aiming to get the new restaurant he is working for a third Michelin star.
However, he still struggles with attitude problems, and this causes friction between him and the kitchen staff despite his adoration for food. Burnt portrays what it means to be a problematic yet gifted person and the struggles to balance out the two in a harmonious way. Starring Bradley Cooper, this movie will give you a peek into the back end of high-class kitchens, which are often filled with insane amounts of pressure.
11 Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
This movie gives you a taste of life as much as it gives you a taste of food. It tells the story of a widowed father and his three unmarried daughters, each with a very distinct personality. The father, Chef Chu, prepares delicious meals for his daughters but is soon to be retired. His daughters, on the other hand, are at a crossroads in their lives when it comes to their father, their love lives, and their work lives. This movie explores the depth of human characters in familial settings that brings out themes such as change, freedom, love, loneliness, and possibilities.
A delight on several ends, Eat Drink Man Woman, will give you an insight into human desire, human relationships, as well as the ways in which food brings people together and helps them connect. This movie has been praised for the shots of the preparation of food as well as its presentation and more so, its delicate observations of different human existences unfolding. It serves as a beautiful reminder that no matter how busy life can get, and that no matter how each member of a family might be leading different lives, a shared meal together can always be a way to bring them closer.
10 Chef (2014)
Chef is an incredible movie about life, family, and delicious food. Carl Casper, a chef whose career went downhill after a negative confrontation with a food critic, decides to reinvent his life in an exciting way. He purchases an old food truck to reinvent into his own, all while going on the road across America to reconnect with his creative side of gastronomy and offering whoever comes along a delicious meal.
This leap of faith he decides to take ends up being so much more than just a food business. It enriches his life in all possible ways. Chef is a film about finding yourself once again and filling the gaps that could bring you the sense of fulfillment you always craved. This movie is simply an enjoyable viewing experience about food, people, and family; a journey that will get you invested in its essence.
9 Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about one of the greatest masters of Sushi of all time. 97-year-old master Jiro Ono fell in love with the process of making sushi and has committed his life to the craft, perfecting his sushi day by day. His restaurant is considered by many to be the best sushi restaurant in the world, with every meal being freshly prepared on the spot. It has earned itself three Michelin stars for its impeccable standard but has now lost them due to its exclusivity, which makes it not open to the public.
The one-hour and 20-minute documentary will take you on a journey into the mind of this incredibly passionate and dedicated chef. The movie explores what Sushi means to Jiro, his daily lifestyle, his mindset, and the way he runs his food business. It also explores his relationship with his son and how they hope to continue keeping the legacy and reputation they have built. This movie is about the art of cooking, as well as the importance of fresh ingredients and consistency.
8 The Trip to Italy (2014)
The Trip to Italy is a movie starring English comedian Steve Coogan and Welsh impressionist Rob Brydon on a tour across Italy. Years after the success of their first film where they try food across England, they visit Liguria, Tuscany, Amalfi, Rome, and Capri where they try delicious meals.
In the film, we see stunning landscapes, and scrumptious food with a humorous approach to life that discusses themes such as personal insecurities, their outlook on life, and the pursuit of happiness. The leads have natural chemistry and do not take themselves too seriously, which makes it entertaining to watch their dialog. Much of the film is improvised, which leaves room for spontaneity and surprises to come along. The Trip to Italy offers you a ride along with two friends, and whatever comes along the way.
7 Chocolat (2000)
Chocolat is based on a novel written by British writer Joanne Harris in 1999. The protagonist, Vianne, a woman of her own ways, and her daughter, move to a conservative French village where she opens a chocolate shop, much to the resistance of the residents. Yet, the shop owner manages to completely shake up the town with her understanding demeanor and different approach to life in a town where people have become too accustomed to their own ways, to the point of rigidity.
Vianne manages to slowly help people through her perspective, but also by always guessing the right kind of chocolate that each customer would be happy to savor each bite of. The film highlights topics such as religious repression, gender, and sensuality in an indirect way through people’s temptation with the chocolates that Vianne creates. She befriends those who need to be heard, seen, and understood—and with her thoughtful nature, and amazing chocolate, she helps them find the path to personal liberation, and the ability to indulge in complete joy without shame.
6 Cook Up a Storm (2017)
Cook Up a Storm is a movie about two chefs, French Michelin-trained Nicholas Tse and Cantonese street chef, Jung Yong-hwa, zooming into their creative cooking for one of the world’s most prominent culinary competitions. This movie is for those who love to see pure cooking with different ingredients, blending in different flavors, and exploring all kinds of fusion.
Packed with visually stunning imagery and colorful and appealing food, Cook Up a Storm will treat your eyes and will leave your stomach growling.
5 The Ramen Girl (2008)
The Ramen Girl follows the journey of Abby, who comes to Tokyo to be with her boyfriend who suddenly leaves for Osaka. Desperate, miserable, and a little lost, she works as a law firm gopher but is unhappy. When she comes across a neighborhood where she sees a ramen shop that is managed by master chef Maezumi and his wife Reiko, she decides she wants to learn their craft.
However, Chef Maezumi doesn’t care to teach her, and she doesn’t seem to give up. Persistent and determined, Abby insists on learning the ways of the master chef and proving she is capable. This is a great movie about reinventing yourself, finding a new love for new things (in this case, cooking), and the journey of proving to yourself that you are capable.
The most endearing moments of this movie are the teacher-student interactions, which have their own charm, lessons, and relatable moments through cross-cultural communication and shared understanding. On top of that, it will make you crave all kinds of ramen!
4 The Lunchbox (2013)
The Lunchbox is a delicate movie about food’s ability to reach your heart. Ila, a wife who is trying to rekindle the spark in her marriage, resorts to cooking delicious meals for her husband and sending them to his work office to tingle his taste buds and get him thinking of her. However, her love language reaches the wrong person. The dabbawala delivery system delivers her food to another man, Saajan Fernandes, a widower who is just about to retire from his job.
When lla realizes she sent the lunchbox to the wrong person, she sends a message to inform Sajaan of the mix-up. When Sajaan decides to write back, a soft friendship begins to blossom as they start sharing who they truly are with each other. What makes this movie especially touching is its emphasis on the ways food is a labor of love, one that has the capacity to connect people together, especially two people from a completely different worlds. Much like Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, food is a hero in helping people learn and understand more about each other and the world.
3 Simply Irresistible (1999)
Simply Irresistible is a sweet movie about cooking and falling in love. After her mother’s death, ordinary chef Amanda Shelton is expected to run her mother’s restaurant. However, her mediocre cooking doesn’t attract much attention. Yet, her meals completely change around when she is given a magical ingredient during her shopping. This magical ingredient completely changes the quality of Amanda’s dishes, making them elicit very strong emotional reactions in anyone who tries her food.
With the help of some magic, her cooking doesn’t only impress her customers, but it also helps her initiate a bond with a very special person. This is a light-hearted movie about cooking with a touch of magic.
2 Today’s Special (2009)
Today’s Special follows the journey of a chef at a restaurant in New York, Samir, who quits his job after being passed over for a head chef position. As a result of things not going according to plan, he decides to use this change to go study gastronomy in France to immerse himself in French cuisine which he is fond of. However, after his father becomes very sick, he is forced to manage the family’s Indian restaurant. Yet, Samir has no experience with Indian food and feels like he is starting from scratch.
Though he is torn between the path he had set for himself and the situation he found himself in, he tries his best to connect with his roots and cook delicious Indian food. This movie will give you a peek into Indian culture, food, and valuable life lessons.
1 A Touch of Spice (2003)
A Touch of Spice is a Greek movie that will deeply touch your heart. It tells the story of a young Greek boy, Fanis Iakovidis, who grows up to be a chef while recalling his childhood with his father in Istanbul before he and his parents were deported during the Istanbul Pogrom while his grandfather remained in Turkey. This movie touches upon themes such as identity, influence, history and cultural preservation, and the ways we communicate to the world who we are through what we create. This is a sensible story of how you become who you are, and how your past plays a role in shaping your future.
It is filled with nostalgia as well as warmth as the chef is keeping parts of his heritage and identity alive through his cooking. Not only does this movie showcase dishes that will educate you about Greek-Turkish culture and gastronomy, it has an interesting premise because it uses food as a window to many other social aspects such as politics, love, and family as Fanis goes back to Istanbul to reconnect with a part of himself he had lost.