These Tantalizing, Food-Centric Netflix Movies Will Wake Up Your Tastebuds

by Jasmine Ting
Originally Published: 
A bowl of noodles from the movie Ramen Shop
MK2 Films

Food isn't something we just devour for the sake of sustenance but also a sensory experience to enjoy. The smells, the look, and the taste all factor into a great meal. And watching films about food — hearing the sizzle of ingredients in a pan, seeing the beautifully plated finished dishes — is a feast in itself, and one that almost always leaves you hungry for more. Thankfully, Netflix has a whole menu of food movies to satisfy all your cravings.

They can be soothing or exciting, but whatever their tone, movies about food should always be mouthwatering. "You just need great sound and pictures of food, and it's as immersive as any special effect," actor and filmmaker Jon Favreau, who's responsible for the film Chef and The Chef Show, told USA Today in 2014. "Those neurons get firing and you can hear the people groan when they see a nice slice of brisket."

Food movies can also educate. There's so much history and culture behind every dish, and just like any other creative industry, the food and beverage landscapes of the world are constantly changing and evolving. With your Netflix subscription, you can explore several corners of this world. These 14 films about food — both fiction and documentary — teach viewers about the culinary arts and the hard work, innovation, and love it takes to succeed in that sphere.


'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' (2011)

Sushi master Jiro Ono is 93 years old (85 at the time the film was made), and has spent all his life trying to perfect his craft. His restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro has earned three Michelin stars, which means he's pretty close. This documentary takes a look into Ono's process as he continues to stretch the limits of taste and texture and trains his son and heir Yoshikazu to do the same.


'Ramen Shop' (2018)

Kazuo (Tsuyoshi Ihara) is a ramen chef in Japan who lost his mom when he was young and recently, his dad. After finding his mother's old diary, he decides to venture to Singapore and meet her side of the family. There, he learns how to cook delicious local dishes such as bak kut teh, satay, and chili crab — but also uncovers some family secrets.


'Todo Sobre El Asado' (2016)

Todo Sobre El Asado looks into the barbecuing culture in Argentina as both meal and ritual. The documentary interviews not only ranchers, butchers, and chefs, but also psychologists and other Argentinians who know that life in the country is all about roasting meat.


'Food On The Go' (2017)

Food on the Go traces the history of Italian food in America. It follows several Italian-American restaurateurs, looking into their heritage, how the diaspora pushed them to do what they do, and what makes a great Italian meal.


'Theater Of Life' (2016)

Refettorio Ambrosiano is a soup kitchen run by culinary legend Massimo Bottura in collaboration with other famed chefs, such as Ferran Adria, Alain Ducasse, and Daniel Humm. Theater of Life shows the beginnings of the kitchen in 2015, when Bottura thought to use the food waste from Expo Milano 2015 to feed the homeless and refugees.


'Barbecue' (2017)

The documentary Barbecue not only looks at the various techniques employed to make delicious barbecue, but the communities forged all over the world by the fire of the grill.


'The Hundred-Foot Journey' (2014)

The Kadam family moves from India to France and decide to open their own restaurant across the street from the Michelin-starred upscale restaurant of Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). The Indian and French eateries develop a rivalry, but things change when Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) decides that he wants to broaden his horizons by getting formal training from Madame Mallory.


'The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution' (2018)

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution follows acclaimed chefs Anne-Sophie Pic, Anita Lo, Angela Hartnett, Amanda Cohen, Victoria Blamey, Suzanne Barr, and Charlotte Langley — women at the forefront of a revolution in the male-dominated space of the professional kitchen.


'For Grace' (2015)

This film documents Michelin star-awarded chef Curtis Duffy's process of opening his dream restaurant, Grace, in Chicago, as well as the personal hardships the chef has had to overcome, including his difficult childhood and a family tragedy.


'Empire Of Scents' (2016)

This documentary looks at food from the angle of scent, investigating how and why smells and aromas affect taste and flavor. If the science of that interests you, you'll also be intrigued by its exploration of how smell also affects memory, survival instinct, emotions, and even sex.


'A Tale Of Two Kitchens' (2019)

A Tale of Two Kitchens is a short film that looks at how important Mexican cuisine is to the American food landscape, specifically through the restaurant Cala, which has branches both in San Francisco and Mexico City. Chef Gabriela Cámara and her staff speak about the restaurant as a community that welcomes everyone and about how food can remove barriers between people.


'No Reservations' (2007)

Kate (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a respected chef who treats her work as her whole life. But that all changes when her sister Leah (Jenny Wade) dies in a car accident, leaving her to take care of her niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). She has to reassess her priorities and learn what it means to care for another person, while also managing the tension between herself and Aaron Eckhart's Nick, her new colleague.


'This Is Not What I Expected' (2017)

Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Gu Shengnan (Dongyu Zhou) couldn't be more different. Lu Jin is a rich CEO, living in a mansion, served by butlers, and wearing the latest designer suits. Gu Shengnan is a scatterbrained chef who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, doesn't play by the rules, and wants her life to be spontaneous. But this mismatched pair bond over their love of food.


'Bugs' (2016)

This gastronomic adventure looks at the more sustainable possibilities for the future of food, as environmental factors affect the issue of world hunger. Warning: this unconventional doc may not be for the faint of heart.

These food movies may have you searching your pantry for something to nibble on. So make sure to stock up on snacks, cook a dish up beforehand, or order some takeout. Don't torture yourself by watching on an empty stomach.

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