Visually speaking, the French film Délicieux (Delicious) is a master class in culinary cinematography. Set in late 18th century France, the tale of a Duke’s chef foreshadows the class wars that prompted the French revolution, while theatrically exploring the genesis of the classic French restaurant and the comfort food that defines it. Chef Pierre Manceron is forced to leave the service of the Duke of Chamfort after the aristocratic clique he cooks a feast for pedantically criticizes a charming potato and truffle tart the chef spontaneously adds to the menu and demands an apology that he does not indulge. Upon returning to his village with his son, the chef starts a small country restaurant and begrudgingly teaches an aspiring chef and determined lady his skills; she eventually helps him regain his love of cooking, a talent based on allowing flavours to breathe and relying on local produce. While following the period piece’s many twists and turns, this comedy-drama is sure to inspire hunger every step of the way.
— Julian Manning
A landmark modern fable that shocks as much as it charms, Ratatouille is a story for underdogs, outsiders, and have-nots. In the high-stakes mise-en-scène of Paris’ restaurant milieu populated by toffee-nosed chefs, gourmands, critics and general industry gatekeepers, being a rat on a cooking station can be a position of great peril. And when the rat is one handling the croutons and cutlery, the situation is particularly hairy. Remy (Patton Oswalt), the rat in question, comes from the sewers beneath the French capital and is frequently subjected to his human tenants’ general hate of rodents. On an exodus out of a village in whose bowels his colony resides, he lands up right under Paris. But his heightened sense of smell and culinary craft allow him to not only emulate his hero, the late culinary giant Auguste Gusteau, but run a whole bistro and impress the city’s vilest food critic Anton Ego (voiced by the legendary Peter O’Toole).
— Prannay Pathak
Michael Winterbottom’s third segment in the The Trip series sees Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon commissioned by The Observer and The New York Times to write restaurant reviews and journey through Spain this time. The duo’s hilarious repartee continues in the same vein as the in other parts of the series, with new celebrity impersonations added in, including David Bowie. Of course, given the setting, a parallel to Cervantes’ Quixote makes an appearance. Coogan, although having made some strides in his career, still finds fame eluding him while Brydon, balancing his job and family, seems to be in a better place.
As they journey down some of Spain’s breath-taking locations and dine at some of the country’s finest restaurants, the long shots of gorgeous landscapes are as much a draw as are the scenes of busy restaurant kitchens. But as much as the food is a running theme, the narrative delves into subjects of fame, fatherhood and history, albeit from an irreverent and humorous perspective. Critical reception ranks this part of the series higher than the ones preceding it, and those looking for equal portions of food, humour, landscape and interesting takes on the human condition, will enjoy both the series and film thoroughly.
— Samarpan Bhowmik
In this subversive tale mingling desire and food politics, Bhaskar Hazarika served up an excellent follow-up to his 2015 anthology Kothanodi. Nirmali (Lima Das), pediatrician, and Suman (Arghyadeep Baruah), college student, strike up a friendship on the basis of their shared love for meat-eating. Meat, more than a mere MacGuffin here, quietly shapeshifts into flesh, as the two frequently embark upon culinary adventures all over Guwahati. On each of these encounters, the enjoyment of the titular aamis (meat) provides an almost-carnal release for the duo, as the mutual need to take the eating to more risqué heights, spikes and culminates in a spectacular finale.
— Prannay Pathak
Each episode is a scrumptious revelation in this Phil Rosenthal production. Best known for creating Everybody Loves Raymond, Phil, this time around, is as candidly comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind it. He navigates the streets and crevices of cities such as Tel Aviv, Seoul, New Orleans, Mexico City and Bangkok to name a few, in search of local cuisine with the help of an insider’s link to better understand the place, its people and their food. While delicious grub undoubtedly remains at the heart of this travel-cum-food documentary, it is Phil’s lighthearted humour and slice-of-life moments featuring friends and family that makes the show a compelling watch.
— Pooja Naik
Wine aficionado or not, Jason Wise’s three stand-alone documentaries should be a must-watch on every foodie’s pop culture list. Somm (2012) dives into the world of wine with a human touch. The first installation follows the journey of four crazily obsessed wine drinkers preparing for their Master Sommelier diploma—the toughest accreditation in the world of wine demanding the sharpest nose and a highly trained tongue. Interloping travels across vineyards from the United States, Italy, France and Germany, the film climaxes with the blind tasting exam in Dallas where three reds and three whites await their assessment.
Into the Bottle (2015) brings forth 10 stories from six countries—from Northern Rohne in France and Italy’s Alto Adige to California’s Napa Valley—detailing the magic of bottling wine. Dusted with a good helping of visual spectacle and fine camerawork, the 90-minute showcase seamlessly informs the viewer of grape harvesting techniques, bottling differences and production approaches of winemakers that separate the New World from the Old. The third installation, Somm 3 (2018) is centred around the blind tasting of six Pinot Noirs in New York. As the film sheds light on the prolific wine industry, the Pinot Noirs reach Steven Spurrier, Fred Dame and Jancis Robinson for a tasting in Paris, to recall Judgment of Paris, 1976. Offering a healthy dose of history, drama and industry jargon, your watch binge will teach you to sip, swirl and swivel your evening tipple.
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