Some of Southern California’s most celebrated chefs are reflecting on their favorite foodie films in honor of the 92nd annual Academy Awards.
Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza, James Holmes of Disney California Adventure Park, international chef Wolfgang Puck and Jon & Vinny’s duo Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo each
created black-tie popcorn recipes this year that are perfect for Oscar Sunday.
Puck is inspired by the movies every year as the chef for the Governors Ball. This year marks his 26th time conjuring up the post-Oscars feast. And while he always serves certain classic dishes—“like the chicken pot pie, because it’s beloved by so many stars”—he
loves to surprise freshly minted Oscar winners with flavors they haven’t tried
“What really says Oscars to me is having something new and exciting to present to these incredible guests,” Puck says, “such as the Valrhona Guanaja [chocolate] that we brought to the limelight of Hollywood through being able to serve it at the Oscars.”
Holmes says he typically spends Oscar night watching at home “with some light snacks and good whiskey,” while keeping an eye on Puck’s menu. “There isn’t necessarily a food or meal that says Oscars to me, but I do always love seeing the shots of what Wolfgang and his team are producing,” he says.
Dotolo says pizza is the perfect meal for Oscar viewing: “You don’t have to watch what you’re doing when you’re eating pizza.” His Oscar ritual in recent years, though, has been cooking for and catering the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s annual Night Before the Oscars gala.
Silverton, meanwhile, thinks of chili and pimento cheese as the ultimate awards-night dish; that’s what she and a friend make at their annual Oscar party.
Here’s a look at a few of these chefs’ favorite foodie films:
Both Silverton and Holmes are fans of this animated Disney classic about the art and joy of cooking. “I love the story and the message that anyone can cook,” Holmes says.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Holmes and Puck love this film about how food connects the owners of competing neighboring restaurants.
This is “the quintessential foodie film,” according to Puck. “It expresses how food makes people feel when shared,” he says. “It acts as a centerfold for discussion when you’re with longtime friends or when you’re meeting someone for the first time. It can act as an icebreaker or as something that can show your true emotions or personality, through your preferences or how you eat food.”
This Jon Favreau film about a chef on the road hit home for Holmes. “I felt stuck professionally and considered going the food-truck route,” he says.
“I love the burger scene,” says Dotolo. “The juxtaposition of the terror and control by the actors while they enjoy the burger is so perfectly out of place.”
Holmes was inspired by this film starring Bradley Cooper as a reformed bad-boy chef who “gets a second chance at his dream.” But for Puck, Cooper’s character is so angry, he can’t relate. “There’s a scene where he is so enraged with his partner, he throws a stack of plates on the floor. No chef would be able to do that in one of my restaurants and keep their job,” Puck says. “I always found it very funny how they depict chefs in Burnt. It’s almost laughable to me because I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun.”
Silverton loves this classic for a drink scene, rather than a food one. “It’s the scene where Rick [Humphrey Bogart] sits down with Ilsa Lund [Ingrid Bergman] and Victor Laszlo [Paul Henreid],” Silverton says. Victor invites Rick to join them for a drink, and when he agrees, his friend says, “Well, a precedent is being broken.” “It’s shocking to him that Rick would sit down with some guests,” Silverton says. “Sometimes I think my staff is stunned when I sit down at a table. It’s rare but I do.”