'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' and the director David Gelb.
'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' and the director David Gelb.
Image: Getty Images / Michael Kovac

You might not be able to go out to your favourite local eatery this weekend but you can visit some of cinema’s best restaurants. Here are nine culinary-themed films – all feel-good and filled with food.

1. JULIE & JULIA

Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia tells the story of famed American chef, cookbook author and quirky personality Julia Child (Meryl Streep in a role that plays to her every strength) and blogger Julie Powell, an earnest and relatable Amy Adams, who sets herself the task of cooking every recipe out of Child’s iconic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, with unexpected consequences. The dual narratives are expertly woven together in a delightful concoction of food and finding yourself outside your comfort zone in the face of uncertainty – ideal for these unprecedented times. 

WATCH | The trailer for Julie & Julia:

2. CHOCOLAT

Another story for our times, Chocolat sees an unconventional woman arriving in small-town France and opening – gasp – a chocolaterie (and just before Lent!) However, her open-hearted approach to life and cooking rubs off on her new neighbours. This stylish adaptation of Joanne Harris’s novel is beautiful to watch and features sweet treats that’ll have you paging to the dessert sections of your recipe books as the credits roll and, hopefully, feeling more sweet towards your fellow man.

WATCH | The trailer for Chocolat:

3. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY

Helen Mirren plays a Michelin-starred chef who owns a restaurant in the French countryside which regularly serves the president. Her perfectly controlled world is rocked when an Indian family moves to town and flamboyantly restores the rundown eatery 100 feet across the road. The patriarch’s exuberant approach to life and cooking shakes up the local scene and the rivalry that develops between the pair makes for both laughs and lessons.

WATCH | The trailer for The Hundred-Foot Journey:

4. THE TRIP

Fair warning: this docu-satire is filled with dry British humour and plenty of sarcasm but, if that’s your cup of tea (’scuse the pun), then this witty adventure around some of England’s best restaurants with comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon is a complete delight. Their observations as everyman in a fancy restaurant, tying to look like they know what they’re talking about, are original and hilarious. It’s gold.

WATCH | The trailer for The Trip:

5. RATATOUILLE

One for family viewing here. This delightful animated romp follows a rat with ambitions of being a famous chef. You can well imagine how he’s welcomed into the pretentious Parisian kitchens – until he meets a lowly kitchen boy with equally big dreams and exactly zero talent. It’s a screwball comedy that’s both wholesome and witty enough to satisfy audiences of all ages in true Disney style.

WATCH | The trailer for Ratatouille:

6. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI

Preparing sushi is undoubtedly an art, and Jiro Ono is a master. Now 94 years old, he was 85 at the time of this 2011 documentary and it’s fascinating to have intimate insight into his process and inspiration (he does dream of sushi) as well as, by extension, Japanese culture. This documentary is beautifully shot and scored and will have you salivating for your next sushi fix.

WATCH | The trailer for Jiro Dreams of Sushi:

7. FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

A mix of drama and comedy, this classic film has a bit of everything, with strong female characters and relationships at the forefront. There’s an engaging storyline at its heart which features not-so-healthy attitudes to food and how it’s possible to bury your feelings in feasting. Probably a timeous message for many of us right now …

WATCH | The trailer for Fried Green Tomatoes:

8. NO RESERVATIONS

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays an uptight, obsessive chef whose life is her work in a very upmarket restaurant. She cooks as she lives – with precision and very little room for spontaneity, fun or invention – and it’s therefore an enormous shock to her system when her sister dies and leaves her daughter in the care of her anything-but-maternal aunt. Her boss, who insists she takes time off to grieve and be there for her niece, hires a male chef who could not be more different or more charming.

WATCH | The trailer for No Reservations:

9. BIG NIGHT

There are some big names in Big Night - Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Allison Janney, Isabella Rossellini, Minnie Driver, Liev Schrieber, Marc Anthony - many of who were not as famous back in 1996 as they are today, but the ensemble of great actors makes for a great film. It’s one that you might not have heard of but those in the know give it high ratings (96% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it’s worth watching younger incarnations of these actors. The premise is simple - a pair of immigrant Italians run a restaurant serving authentic Italian food but the fact that the chef (older brother Primo) refuses to Americanise his menu to make it more accessible to their Jersey customers means the establishment is failing. They plan a “Big Night”, when a celebrity is due to come and dine, in a last-ditch attempt to save their eatery. It’s a gem.

WATCH | The trailer for Big Night:

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