9 Documentaries and Movies for Chefs and Cooks

Great artists need great inspiration, and these documentaries and films will surely fuel your passion for food. Thankfully, instead of chucking DVDs into your Chef Knife Vintage Backpack, you can watch most of these on Netflix and other streaming sites. Ah, the power of technology!

9 Must-Watch Culinary-Themed Films and Documentaries

1. A Tale Of Two Kitchens (2019)

(Photo by Netflix)

Apart from food and artistry, the most important aspect of any kitchen is the sense of community among its people. Featuring the stories of two Mexican restaurants in San Francisco and Mexico City, A Tale of Two Kitchens paints the restaurants not only as a place of work, but as a safe haven for the chefs under its roof.

2. King Corn (2007)

(Photo by Mosaic Films Incorporated)

In 2007, college graduates Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis hit the road and moved from Boston to Greene, Iowa to grow corn, going back to their families’ roots and learning more about the role of the titular crop in the American food system in the process. Lauded by audience and critics alike, King Corn is an entertaining and highly insightful commentary on today’s food production.

3. Chef (2014)

(Photo by Open Road Films)

As if the ensemble cast wasn’t enough to entice you, the cooking scenes in this 2014 comedy-drama would surely make food lovers’ mouths water and culinary mavens swoon with ecstasy. A story of loving and elevating one’s craft, this is a film artists of all kinds will appreciate.

4. Chef's Table (2015-present)

(Photo by Netflix)

This award-winning Netflix docuseries dedicates each episode to a world-class chef and explores their philosophy and impeccable approach to the art form. Chef’s Table is saturated with such great episodes that it could warrant its own list, but that’s an article for another time.

5. Ratatouille (2007)

(Photo by Pixar)

“Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” That quote alone could certainly inspire anyone, but do yourself a favor anyway and watch this 2007 Disney-Pixar masterpiece. If you haven’t yet, what in the world have you been doing with your life?

6. Street Food (2019-present)

(Photo by Netflix)

Much like its Netflix sibling Chef’s Table does, Street Food puts the spotlight on dedicated culinary artists from around the globe, but opts for lesser-known, everyman street vendors and their unique delicacies. A celebration of food, culture, and people, this must-watch series will surely light your culinary fire.

7. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011)

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures)

Japanese chef Jiro Ono’s dedication to his craft and his $300-a-plate sushi restaurant in Tokyo is the focus of this 2011 documentary. It tells the story of then-85-year-old Ono’s tenacious pursuit for perfection, as well as his son who works under his watch and whom he deems unprepared to inherit the restaurant. A study of a relentless artist as much as it’s a film about sushi, this is a must-watch for food and film connoisseurs alike.

8. Barbecue (2017)

(Photo by Projector Films)

Featuring twelve countries from all around the world, this highly-praised documentary examines the approach of varying cultures on the art of barbecuing. Brimming with luscious food cinematography and superb storytelling, Barbecue not only delves on the distinct techniques of each place when it comes to the eponymous food process, but also explores its meaning to their culture and tradition.

9. Theater Of Life (2016)

(Photo by Triplex Films)

Renowned Italian chef Mossimo Bottura’s aspirations of ending food waste is put front and center in this feature-length documentary. In it, Bottura enlists the help of 60 global master chefs such as Mario Batali and Yoshihiro Narisawa to open a soup kitchen using food waste. A masterfully-crafted documentary film, Theater of Life captures the very essence of culinary arts—cooking food that nourishes both body and spirit. 

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