"Fed Up", " Chef " and MIAbites Canned Film Festival Picks

For years, food and food preparation has been entertaining us in our kitchens, favorite restaurants, on TV and even on the " Silver Screen". It has been a pivotable story line in documentaries, dramas and comedies, and so far 2014 has already cooked up two new buzzed about films....Just in time for Memorial Day weekend!

 "Fed Up" a revealing documentary , by top fimmaker, Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric about our misinformed food and eating habits and "Chef" a new feel-good comedy starring an all-star cast including Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergera, Scarlett Johansson and Dustin Hoffman. 

" Chef ", with much of it filmed in Miami including at Versailles in Little Havana, is the story of a top chef in LA, who is trapped in a popular restaurant making the same dishes "day in and day out".  He tries to win back the favor of a food critic by changing the menu, much to the displeasure of the owner, and finds himself out of a job.   A beat up food truck and a passion to make Cuban sandwiches takes him to Miami and then onto other foodie destinations including New Orleans and Franklin BBQ in Austin.  The Washington Post review likened many of the food scenes to, " culinary porn".  

"Chef" is filled with plenty of food scenes to satisfy even the most discerning appetite , and includes a wonderful soundtrack of Cuban music, New Orleans Jazz and Texas blues

Both "Fed Up" and "Chef" are currently playing at The Regal South Beach Cinemas at 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, FL 33139 with plenty of dining options for before or after the movie.

And in case you prefer at home watching,  MIAbites presents... The Canned Food Festival: A collection of top "foodie films" over the past few decades.

All below films and documentaries are available for rent or sale thru iTunes, or Netflix, or by DVD for sale thru Amazon at varying prices.

Babettes Feast-( 1987 ) – A heartwarming story that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, it is a story of a lonely woman taken in by a pastor who when she wins the lottery prepares an elaborate feast as her thanks.

Big Night- (1996 )- Two bickering brothers played perfectly by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub own a floundering Italian restaurant and, in desperation, craft a plan to create a sumptuous meal to serve to celebrity crooner Louis Prima.  What happens is a big party and lots of food!

Chocolat- ( 2000 ) Juliette Binoche is wonderful as a drifter who along with her young daughter opens a chocolate shop in a conservative French town, which is met with resistance and scepticsm by the grumpy mayor who tries to shut her down. Johnny Depp appears as a sexy gypsy who befriends her and her daughter.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi- ( 2011 ) American documentary directed by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro Ono, an 85 year-old sushi master and owner of Michelin 3-Star restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in the subway of Tokyo, on his continuing quest to perfect the art of sushi…and his relationship with his two sons. ALERT- Craving for sushi is guaranteed!

Julie and Julia- ( 2009 )- The true story of blogger Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams who attempts to cook her way through legendary chef Julia Child’s seminal cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The movie of parallel stories also portrays the story of Julia Child's start in the cooking profession and is played to perfection by Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the food icon.

Mystic Pizza ( 1988 )- Set in Mystic, CT, a story of three teens coming of age, while working in local pizza place. which makes the best pizza and ends up being “discovered” by local food critic.  Julie Roberts stars as the promiscuous, Daisy, in her breakout role, with big hair! TRIVIA- The building used for the pizza restaurant was a converted home in Stonington, CT. After the film's release, the real-life Mystic Pizza building in downtown Mystic was renovated to resemble the movie set.

Kids home sick?  Here are a couple great choices.

Ratatouille- (2007). Oscar winner for best animated film. With dreams of becoming a chef, Remy,a culinary genius in the form of a rat, makes an unusual alliance with a young kitchen worker at a famed restaurant.

Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory- (1971) Musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”, it tells the story of a poor boy who wins the opportunity to tour the most eccentric and wonderful candy factory of all. Starring Gene Wllder as the somewhat evil tempered Willy Wonka.

And, if you feel the need to be educated more about food…it’s origins, the trials and/or evils of farming or the horrors of “Fast Food,” catch these documentaries… WARNING- be prepared as these films may spoil your appetite!

Food, Inc- ( 2008 )  American documentary film directed by Emmy Award- winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, that examines corporate farming in the United States and concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.

Super Size Me- ( 2004 ) American documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003 during which he ate only McDonald's food. You may never eat a Big Mac again….

Dirt, The Movie- ( 2009 ) American documentary inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth that offers an insightful and sometimes humorous story of man’s relationship with dirt.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John- ( 2005 )  American documentary film directed by Taggart Siegel about the life of a flamboyant Midwestern farmer John Peterson, operator of Angelic Organics. BONUS: He flaunts a feather boa while driving his tractor.

And for you wine lovers….

Sideways ( 2004) a comedy/drama that follows a failing writer and soon-to-be-married cad on their journey through the famous Santa Ynez wine country in California.  Stars Paul Giametti and Thomas Hayden Church respectively in the above roles.

Bottleshock- (2009) The famous true story of the "blind" Paris wine tasting session in 1976, which had the leading tasters in the industry pitting their palates against French and Californian wines with some very surprising results. Alan Rickman stars as the London wine shop owner.

This is my personal list of favorites…and no doubt, just like The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences,  snubbed someone’s favorite…so please use comment section below to add to this list….

Food and Film… the perfect pairing!