Citreus Crew Catering brings real meaning and character to the term ‘food for films’ as we premiere two great passions – food and films.
In one tasty blog, we will look at films that are food-related and films with scenes – large or small – that inspire cooking or place emphasis on the need for quality cuisine.
Let’s set the table for a real tasty appetiser – The Godfather (1972).
It’s not exactly like the lengthy wedding scene in the Deer Hunter (1978) – also starring De Niro – but this film trilogy certainly isn’t short of food and celebration. In fact, to be honest, it’s the setting that is a crew caterer’s dream.
Coppola and the crew headed overseas to the island of Sicily where a reputation for food is as epic as the film trilogy itself.
Sicily is an island we have mentioned before in our Food Festivals blog from August this year – https://citreuscatering.co.uk/food-festivals-citreus-catering-events/ – – and we have nothing but gastronomic praise for this area when it comes to food and quality –
“Sicily is largely volcanic – there is always something erupting – which adds to the fertility of the land and brings forth a bounty of deliciousness, and this is probably why the island hosts several food festivals within the Italian food calendar.”
Complex food for films
The Godfather is as complex as an innovative Italian chef reinventing himself at one of the 300+ Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy. It’s gritty, packed with gangsters and places emphasis on family, loyalty, drugs, murder and coercion.
As the head name of the film suggested, consideration was given to actually filming in Corleone. However, it was decided to move the filming to the pretty, atmospheric Sicilian villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro, near Taormina.
Taormina is no stranger to film crews and celebrities, hosting film stars such as Tom Cruise, Stephen Spielberg, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who famously began their romantic relationship in the city during the filming of Cleopatra (1963) – https://variety.com/2023/film/global/taormina-1235647903/.
One interesting ‘food for films’ fact is that, before the film crew moved out to Sicily, the cast received two weeks for rehearsal, which included a dinner where each actor and actress had to assume character for its duration – one can only assume that the restaurant was Italian.
Films made for food making
From the Godfather to a film described as ‘the Godfather of cooking movies’ – Julie and Julia (2009).
The comedy-drama based on a true story, starring multi-award winning actress Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada 2006), Amy Adams (Catch Me If You Can – 2002) and Stanley Tucci – also of The Devil Wears Prada – is based on two books: My Life in France, an autobiography by American chef, Julia Childs (Streep) and a memoir by author Julie Powell (Adams), entitled Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.
Julie Powell’s book was based on a popular blog she wrote on Salon – a political views, opinions and news website of the mid-90s – where she documented cooking each of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s 1961 cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastering_the_Art_of_French_Cooking
The film, the first major motion picture based on a blog, flashes back between past and present, highlighting significant moments in one another’s lives and containing mouth-watering scenes.
After moving to Paris, Julia Child’s education was formed at Le Cordon Bleu – https://www.cordonbleu.edu/paris/home/en – and, as you can imagine, the film contains scenes of all the classics: Coq au vin – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/coq-au-vin – Beef Bourguignon – https://cafedelites.com/beef-bourguignon/ – (Julia’s Actual recipe) – soups, cheeses, freshly baked bread, mushrooms in cream sauce and decadent desserts.
It’s not that this film is about eating great food, it makes one want to cook and eat great food.
And if you don’t believe me, just check out this YouTube clip compiling nearly 11 minutes of food and cooking from the film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LkrYxXb8s8&t=103s.
Staying in Paris, this animated film is based around a rat named Remy, with heightened senses and a penchant for cooking and eating good, quality cuisine.
Seen as abnormal by all of the other rats, he won’t just eat anything like his friends and family who are constantly on the brink of poisoning themselves, no, he wants to experiment with food.
He has aspirations of being a chef like his hero Auguste Gusteau. Remy likes to eat hygienically and cook with fresh produce, combining flavours and ingredients.
With his knowledge of food, he collaborates with a young inspiring kitchen boy, Alfredo Linguini, to help him become a great chef by producing a critically acclaimed soup.
Written and directed by Brad Bird who was creative director for The Simpsons for 8 seasons, Ratatouille was named after the famous French dish of stewed vegetables – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille – and was voted one of the 100 greatest motion pictures of the 21st century.
And despite this being a Disney Pixar – https://www.pixar.com/ – animated film directed towards a younger audience, it didn’t take the food aspect of the film any less seriously.
Cooking up animated food for films was the biggest challenge for the production team. The main aim was to make the food appear delicious, and gourmet chefs from France and the US were consulted by the film’s animators who attended cooking classes to understand the workings of a commercial kitchen.
The film pulls in several aspects of the food industry including critical opinion, quality food and the importance of hygiene, and gives an animated insight into the pressures of culinary perfection, even if it’s seen through the eyes and the well-developed palate of a rat.
Another Gangster film in the Food for Films series, this time starring the late Ray Liotta who had that ambivalent charismatic mix of pleasant, accommodating, and I-could-snap-any-moment, and Robert De Niro who seems like someone who would be at home as an integral part of any Italian-American mafia crime family.
Why is this in the Food for Films list?
Unlike the film Julie and Julia, this film isn’t on the list of food for films due to the abundance of food on show.
What we love about Goodfellas isn’t the fact that they named pizza after it – or maybe not – but because influential mobsters held court in restaurants and this is regarded as one of the greatest gangster films of all time.
It has a great prison kitchen scene where the narration indicates that the ‘wise guys’ are running the joint and they have devised a busy production line to cook pasta sauces.
Pauli (Paul Sorvino) gives out instructions like a head chef, “Not too many onions in the sauce!”, and Ray Liotta’s character manages to source bottles of fresh bread and red wine through an internal connection as if he was in his mum’s kitchen back home.
It’s apparent that the prisoners appreciate good food and it shows how teamwork and a bit of thought can actually turn prison slops into something quite appetising.
Good food for films in prison
An interesting food/prison fact is that the governors of the prison on Alcatraz Island insisted that the food served to inmates was good quality because it was observed that many prison riots culminated from an over-abundance of poor food.
Those familiar with the film will recognise that it has a great cast, and improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals wherein Scorsese gave actors creative freedom to act as they chose.
The biographical content of the film focuses on the Gambino family – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambino_crime_family – who are associated with ‘The Sparks Steakhouse’ in New York – https://soyummy.com/mafia-restaurants/.
Like many epic films, dining is naturally depicted as a major part of life, and the glimpses of dining we see in Goodfellas, as in many films about mobsters, highlight the fact that the mob knew good food when they tasted it.
Our next film is a cult classic from the mid-eighties, 9 ½ Weeks (1986).
This film is full of erotic, romantic drama. There is a restaurant with a dark history, good wine, and a famous kitchen scene that is ultimately as passionate as the theme.
What many people fail to understand is that the film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_and_a_Half_Weeks_(book)#References – A 1978 memoir written by Ingeborg Day, it was published under the pen name, Elizabeth McNeill (McGraw for the film), the art gallery owner in the film who has a brief, sexually violent relationship with a Wall Street broker, John Gray.
A flop in the US, the film received more mixed reviews than Marmite – https://www.marmite.co.uk/ – and was perceived to be too explicit for audiences by MGM Studios – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
There was constant bickering, and tension between the two stars of the film, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, and it is rumoured that it was somewhat encouraged by director, Adrian Lyne, to enhance the relationship of the characters.
What cooked up a storm?
Despite Kim Basinger feeling humiliated following the audition and stating that she would refuse the role if presented to her, the role was said to have ‘pushed her to an edge’ – https://www.nytimes.com/1986/03/09/movies/how-9-1-2-weeks-pushed-an-actress-to-the-edge.html – and her performance culminated in immortalised sex-symbolism.
From Rourke’s perspective, what followed was an increase in men learning to cook as a way to seduce women.
The kitchen scene is as seductive as the spaghetti eating in the 1955 animated classic, Lady and The Tramp – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_and_the_Tramp – as Elizabeth is blindfolded and encouraged to experience tastes without sight – cherries, honey, milk and cough syrup…!
9 ½ Weeks is listed in The Taste’s 10 sexiest food scenes in films. The Taste is an award-winning food, drink and travel magazine with a great taste in films too. Check out their list –https://www.thetaste.ie/well-have-what-theyre-having-the-10-sexiest-food-scenes-in-film/
We shall conclude with another film from that list, one with a very appropriate title: The Chef (2014)
Writer, director and star of the film, Jon Favreau, wrote the film’s script because he was inspired by films such as Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), a Japanese language, documentary film about sushi master and three Michelin-starred Jiro Uno – https://www.oliveoilsfromspain.org/olive-oil-news/jiro-ono-sushi-master/ -; Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) and Big Night (1996), a perfectionist chef film starring Stanley Tucci again.
Favreau had been wanting to make a food-centric food for some time, and an all-star cast that includes Dustin Hoffman (Rainman), Scarlett Johansson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Island), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man directed by Favreau) and Sofia Vergara surely contributes to the film’s success.
What we like about this film.
The food prepared was eaten by the cast and the crew in this film and the locations in Austin, New Orleans and Miami were chosen specifically because they “possess a rich food and music culture”, including the Cuban Restaurant in Little Havana, Florida, ‘Hoy Como Ayer’, meaning today like yesterday.
Also, what makes this so relevant to what chefs do is that the food truck scenes were improvised to capture realistic banter in a commercial, kitchen environment.
There is a convincing, natural flow about the film that creates a convincing culinary environment with good chemistry between the characters and big-name actors who flourish in small roles.
The reality of Food for Films
If you are looking for a real, crew catering experience, we’ve always got a place for you on the set of a tasty production.
Citreus Crew Catering is wholesome, delicious, and all wrapped up in one friendly service.
From TV, film, music and sporting events, we have a culture of gastronomy at our fingertips to provide an unforgettable round-the-clock, crew catering experience.
Crew Catering Skills
Specialising in wedding receptions, corporate events and crew catering, we have a tasty history and a culture of gastronomy at our heart.
With an uncompromising approach to quality, Citreus Catering is the perfect accompaniment to whatever gig or event your crew is attending.
Speak to us about how our catering crew can cater for your crew with Citreus Crew Catering.