I sat down and thought about it, and there really aren’t that many ‘foodie’ films out there, and where there are; they usually have a sub-plot (usually romance) which detracts from the food aspect (think ‘No Reservations’). The big exception is “Ratatouille”, how sad that what is essentially a kids film is the only one (at least the only one I can think of) to focus on the food aspect!
Personally, I love ‘Ratatouille’; what a wonderful premise the film is based on:
‘Anyone can cook’
The idea being that you don’t have to be some high up Chef who trained with the best in the world to ‘know’ food. Look at Masterchef as an example:
There are all types in this show, one that stands out for the wrong reasons is Aaron, here’s a guy who seems to know a lot about food. He famously tried to impress the judges with a ‘molecular gastronomy’ style dish which looked very impressive but apparently tasted like rubbish. His knowledge seems to outstrip many of the other contestants but he just doesn’t seem to have the instincts. This is further demonstrated by the fact that he seems to continually turn out second rate dishes (why he hasn’t been voted out is beyond me). Those with less ‘technical’ knowledge than him are better at what they do because they clearly love it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that all the technical skills & knowledge in the world mean jack if you don’t have the heart for food. So realistically, there could be many ‘home cooks’ out there whose skills outstrip those of many chefs. Not all of course, but I’ve been to too many restaurants where the chef appears to have no taste buds (then I’ve been to some places where I’ve been completely blown away too). Watching the Cook & the Chef last night, I heard Maggie Beer say she had no formal training and learned everything she knows from reading books; and she’s a legend! I’d wager 90% of these Chefs in the average restaurant don’t have even half the ability that she does, it’s clear that she adores food, and obviously that comes through in her cooking. If I had even 10% of her ability I’d be thrilled!
Hence my point about the ‘Ratatouille’ movie; which I think embodies it’s concept that ‘anyone can cook’ perfectly. As it happens the lowly rat with a genuine passion for food (don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing Maggie Beer to a rat!!) turns out to have more instincts for food and flavours than the head Chef of what used to be the best restaurant in France. I’m not minimizing the importance of training for one minute (then I’d be like one of those people I hate who pick up a paintbrush and declare themselves an Artist) but it seems to me that there are as many passionless and disenchanted chefs running sub-standard restaurants (i.e. the cranky, sell out head chef in the movie) as there are geniuses with a real gift who turn food into an art form (the rat).