After a weekday that feels like a million hours long, on a day highlighted by 10 p.m. classes, club meetings, and a protein bar for breakfast, the only way to feel more in control is to grab a frozen meal at Trader Joe’s and stand in line. something of the best movie genre – food movies. The chefs who chop the vegetables on screen at superhuman speeds are the stars who give us hope and turn the mundane into a spectacular show. Without further ado, here are six food-related movies and TV shows, each paired with a simple snack to give you much-needed comfort after a brutal day.
“Julie and Julia” (2009)
Amy Adams and Meryl Streep stand in the glorious direction of this film that bridges the gaps between the 1950s and the post-September 11, 2001, Paris and New York City, and their dedicated supportive husbands, Chris Messina and Stanley Tucci. The film immerses the audience in a world where everything can go horribly wrong and life can be painfully mundane, but the value of a good home-cooked meal is never underestimated.
Trader Joe’s Quiche Lorraine is a perfect match for this movie. Why is that? Why? Pure warmth right out of the oven. It’s plain and French but most importantly buttery. It’s the perfect food when you come back from a long day and cooking is the last thing on your mind, but still want to eat something that feels like homemade.
This is a generational favourite. The music is a surprisingly attractive villain in the form of Anton Ego, and the lights and sounds of Paris add to the “Ratatouille” legacy. However, the food is first and foremost. From crispy breads and salty cheeses to shimmering sauces that you can almost taste, it’s the perfect movie to experience the excitement of a good meal.
The Deli Tasting Board at Target is great with this movie. Why is that? Why? The scene behind Remy combining different combinations of ingredients by synthesizing colors says enough about this choice. A meal can be simple as long as it’s thoughtful and maximizes potential flavor.
This show is the sharp new kid on the block. Starring Jeremy Allen White as neurotic fine-dining chef Carmy Berzatto and Ayo Ebiri as brilliant but inexperienced chef Sydney Adamu, “The Bear” details the chaotic ins and outs of running a restaurant amid personal tragedy. It’s fun, beautifully shot, fast-paced and tense while hiding a gleaming flow of warmth among the eccentric cooks of this Chicago restaurant. If you missed it over the summer, the excitement of the awards ceremony has definitely brought it back on everyone’s must-see lists.
A good breakfast sandwich is the perfect pairing for this show. Why is that? Why? It’s fast and gets the job done. Succulent and messy, an explosion of flavor at the seams. Ultimately, it’s a no-nonsense food that’s sure to leave you full.
“A Hundred Foot Journey” (2014)
Head chef Hassan Kadam balances delectable French cuisine with hearty Indian fare in this heartwarming underdog, about a Muslim Indian family forced out of their successful Mumbai restaurant and trying to rebuild their lives in the French countryside. It’s a reminder that the house can fit in a Tupperware box and move with whatever challenges lie ahead.
It’s a bit of an unusual choice, but a dish that reminds you of home is a great pairing for this movie. Why is that? Why? College can be tough at times, so call your parents or look up the recipe for your favorite meal from when you were a kid. If you have the time and means to do it, cooking something nostalgic and stuffing for dinner is the closest place most of us can get home during the semester.
“Jiro Sushi Dreams” (2011)
A documentary focusing on the life of 97-year-old Japanese master chef Jiro Ono, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” follows Ono’s journey to modernize and revolutionize sushi. It reveals his life, boundaries, and legacy in a way that immediately draws the audience to his former 10-seat restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, and prompts them to book a table and experience this three-Michelin-starred dish for himself.
The chicken sauce in the frozen food aisle of Trader Joe’s suits this documentary perfectly. Why is that? Why? While Jiro won’t necessarily appreciate eating frozen food, as college students we realize that sometimes we have to get by. All things considered, gyoza can be steamed, pan-fried or deep-fried and is a delicious main dish that packs a lot of flavor into relatively small bites.
This is one of the most exciting movies on this list. While at times sloppy and certainly darker than anything mentioned so far, “Menu” is a movie treat. Ralph Fiennes as a weary celebrity chef and Anya Taylor-Joy as someone who has no knowledge of this fine dining world has an extremely interesting push-and-pull dynamic at the center of the film, while Nicholas Hoult as an eccentric cook delivers a fanciful comedy sequence from start to finish. In this movie, food is a proxy for many things, but the movie never takes itself so seriously that it doesn’t go back and evaluate itself. It’s a strong contender for best black comedy of the year and is definitely worth watching.
Brookie at Trader Joe’s is as bastard as the food can get, and the shock of this simple combination is what “Menu” delivers to its audience on a silver platter. This is a wonderful dessert that makes you wonder why it hasn’t replaced both cookies and cakes.
“Chef’s Table” (2015-2019)
David Gelb – a USC graduate! – mastered the art of food documentary. Cinematic classical music accompanied by slow motion footage of the world’s most delicious dishes makes “Chef’s Table” an exceptionally watchable television show. Each episode profiles a different chef around the world who, in their own way, revolutionized the way we look at food. This is a series that offers an escape through the windows of people whose lives are focused on cooking for others, and shows you that what matters to them is not that different from what matters to us.
The food pairing for this show is Thai Red Curry with Thai Style Red Curry Sauce at Trader Joe’s. Why is that? Why? A bowl of this vegetable-laden curry over rice is the definition of comfort. Profile of a chef in the first part of volume 3, Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist nun in South Korea, reveals two of the most incredible things food can do: building communities and nurturing our bodies. He flew to New York to cook for private audiences at a restaurant called Le Bernadin, and although there was no shortage of people who wanted him, he returned to South Korea with no ambition to open his own restaurant.
Food can be a great source of personal joy, and food movies are the perfect place to remind yourself of that. Watch and enjoy!