The Best Movies About Food and Global Culinary Experiences

January 10, 2024

Food is a universal love language with a tapestry of global flavors, traditions, and techniques. In film and television, there are many stories to be told about food and global culinary experiences. From the Max series cataloging the early days of famed chef Julia Child’s career to the late Anthony Bourdain on his worldly and insightful televised adventures, food is a common thread that connects and inspires us all. 

The Best Movies About Food and Global Culinary Experiences

Several movies use the theme of food to tell a compelling story, whether teaching viewers how to make a meal, competing in cooking and baking, or simply finding passion in the craft of cooking and/or eating. Many films provide a compelling example of the power of storytelling, showcasing interesting meals and dishes from all over the world.

Here are some notable examples.

The Best Movies About Food

Chef (2014): Directed by and starring Jon Favreau, this film follows a chef, Carl, who starts a food truck after quitting his high-profile restaurant job after a bad experience with a food critic. Looking to become inspired by food again, the film follows Carl as he explores his passion for creating delicious dishes. 

Julie & Julia (2009): This movie intertwines the story of Julia Child, played by Only Murders in the Building Star Meryl Streep, with the life of a young woman, played by Amy Adams, who decides to embark on a year-long journey of cooking all the recipes in Child’s cookbook. The film is based on the novel written by Julie Powell.

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994): Directed by Ang Lee, this Taiwanese film revolves around a retired master chef and his three daughters. Every week, the family shares a homecooked meal that helps the viewer explore their family dynamics and watch as each character tackles their own individual challenges. Image via IMDB.

Babette’s Feast (1987): Babette’s Feast is a Danish film about a French refugee and lottery winner who prepares a sumptuous feast for a small religious community. The meal, designed around the 100th birthday of a dedicated (now deceased) father and devoted member of the community, the movie celebrates the transformative power of food.

Tampopo (1985): This popular foodie film and Japanese comedy is about a truck driver who helps a young widow transform her failing noodle shop into a place of culinary excellence. The film underlines how food can unite people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Image via The Times.

Ratatouille (2007): The fan-favorite animated film from Pixar, Ratatouille tells the story of a rat named Remy with a natural affinity for flavor. Remy, who aspires to become a great chef in a French restaurant, finds himself in one of the best kitchens in France alongside a shy dishwasher who can somehow communicate with him.

Like Water for Chocolate (1992): This Mexican film, adapted from Laura Esquivel’s novel, weaves together love, family, and food. With each dish carrying a powerful emotional connection, the film showcases a strong female lead, the passionate Tita (Lumi Cavazos), who fuels her love and emotions in the food she cooks. Image via Google Play.

Simply Irresistible (1999): Simply Irresistible is a charming 90s rom-com that hints at the mystical and magical qualities of food. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, the film tells the story of a young chef grieving her mother and unknowingly bringing home an enchanted crab who looks over her kitchen. 

The Lunchbox (2013): This Indian romantic drama revolves around a mistaken lunchbox delivery that leads to an unexpected friendship between two lonely people (played by Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur.) Over the exchange of delightful homemade meals, the two bond and connect as they write each other letters through the boxes. Image via The New York Times.

Burnt (2015): Starring the Golden Globe nominee, Maestro star, and Director Bradley Cooper, Burnt revolves around a once-promising and rough-around-the-edge chef who falls from grace. Seeking redemption, Cooper’s character, Adam, opens a new restaurant in London.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014): Starring Om Puri and Golda star Dame Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey follows an Indian family that opens a restaurant in the south of France. The restaurant’s opening sparks a culinary rivalry between Papa (Puri) and Madame Mallory (Mirren), who owns a nearby traditional French restaurant. Image via Amblin.

Chocolat (2000): In a quaint, isolated village, a French woman (Juliette Binoche) and her young daughter embark on opening a chocolate shop, challenging the established moral norms and stirring a transformative wave within the community. The film highlights how food and religion can be intertwined.

Uncorked (2020): In this Netflix original drama, a young man finds himself caught between his aspirations of becoming a master sommelier and the pressure from his father, who envisions him inheriting the family barbecue business. The film stars Mamoudou Athie, Courtney B. Vance, and Niecy Nash-Betts. Image via Wine Spectator.

The Ramen Girl (2008): The late Brittany Murphy starred as a far-from-home American who, after getting dumped by her boyfriend, is stranded abroad in Tokyo. Finding comfort at a local ramen shop, Murphy’s character, Abby, convinces an expert ramen chef (Toshiyuki Nishida) to mentor and guide her as a young chef.

Follow Your Passion at NYFA

For filmmakers passionate about food and culture, these films are exceptional examples of the creative stories that can be told. If you’re interested in learning the craft of filmmaking and telling your own story, check out the filmmaking programs offered by the New York Film Academy today.