A Chef’s So-Called Life

What movies get right—and wrong—about life in the kitchen.

Do you like to watch? Cooking, that is? As of Friday, you have not one, but two cinematic ways to get your culinary voyeurism on—Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille, about a rat named Remy destined to become a great chef, and No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart as rival chefs and lovers in a chic New York bistro. While the chef has been a popular figure in film for decades, our current fascination with food television and celebrity chefs has made us hungrier for accurate representations of the professional kitchen. To get the cooking details right, the No Reservations filmmakers consulted with the French Culinary Institute, while members of the Ratatouille team interned with Thomas Keller at French Laundry and spent time in the kitchens of several multistarred kitchens in Paris. But believably depicting life in the kitchen goes beyond set design and flaming pans. Click here for a video slide show on how chefs—and professional cooking—are portrayed in contemporary film.