After seeing the movie, Chef, this week, I went online to read the reviews to see if the critics liked it as much as I did. One of my biggest criticisms, the one I had to giggle over as a blogger, was that there no way in heck that AOL would pay $10 million for a food blog. I don’t care how successful any website is, no one would pay $10 million for it! Not even Facebook would do that and they’re buying everything these days at the most ridiculous prices.
OK, I’m going to drop a big spoiler, so if you don’t want to read it, let’s just say I loved the movie, think you should see it, and wish it wasn’t R-rated so you could take the kids, because it’s got a great message or two. Now put your hand on the screen and scroll down to the recipe from Martha Stewart Living.
SPOILER ALERT: After ruining Chef Carl’s career, the critic, played so wonderfully by Oliver Platt, takes some of his AOL-derived riches and becomes Carl’s financial backer. (Thus the movie’s happy ending.)
Does it remind you of another foodie movie? How about Disney’s 2007 animated film, Ratatouille [affiliate link], where the critic also saves the day by bankrolling the restaurant? You think writer, director and star, Jon Favreau, could have thought of something a little more original.
Even so, I loved the movie, and thought the food produced by LA food truck chef Roy Choi was spot on and oh so mouth watering! Especially those Cuban sandwiches. It made me miss Tampa, though there’s a place not to far from my home where I can get a decent gluten free one!
For the most part, I thought the social media aspect of the movie was accurate too, except for the AOL bit. (They actually used Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine by name and image, and didn’t make up fake sites like the movie, Julie & Julia [affiliate link] did.)
So if you have a chance to get to the movies this month, go see Chef. If you don’t mind the kids hearing swear words and seeing adults smoke pot (just once), smoking cigarettes, or drinking booze, it’s actually a family friendly movie with a wonderful message of father-son bonding and being passionate about your work.
I would take older, more mature kids to see this, especially ones who hear f-bombs from time to time at the bowling alley or the golf course. (Um, like my kids.)
A twist on ratatouille
In praise of my other favorite restaurant-critic-saves-the-chef movie, Ratatouille, I thought I’d share a unique grilled ratatouille recipe from the June 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Lots of great recipes in this month's issue!
Unfortunately, bulgur and couscous are not a gluten free grains, so you’ll need to substitute quinoa or rice. Instead of a baguette, cut up gluten free bagels or hot dog buns. Otherwise, this is a perfect Meatless Monday dish and one to serve when you want to grill outside in the summer instead of being stuck inside a hot kitchen.
- 1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 1 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 2 medium tomatoes, halved crosswise
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups cooked bulgur or couscous (from 1 cup dry)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1/2 baguette, halved lengthwise
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (from 1 bunch)
- Preheat grill for direct heat.
- Brush eggplant, zucchini, squash, onion, and tomatoes with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Grill, flipping once, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
- Place bulgur in a container, and pour vegetables and accumulated juices on top. Sprinkle with lemon juice and drizzle with oil. (Store in refrigerator up to 2 days; let come to room temperature before serving.)
- Brush both sides of baguette with oil. Grill, flipping once, until edges are crisp and charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub top of bread with garlic; cut into 1/2-inch croutons. (Store at room temperature up to 2 days.)
- Top salad with basil and croutons before serving.
- Serving size: 1/4 of recipe
Photo by Alpha Smoot. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2014. Recipe and photo used with permission.