People interested in learning more about the hospitality industry understand the desire for the finer things in life. We are constantly looking for entertainment that will bring us closer to our dreams and the things we enjoy most. And what do we enjoy the most? That’s right, food.
In this article, we will explore a selection of food-inspired movies all foodies will love while navigating the underworld of hospitality management.
Babette's feast (1987)
The movie takes place in 19th century Denmark, where a refugee from Paris arrives at a house asking for help from two spinsters, Martine and Philippa. Babette works for free, providing the sisters with delicacies and rich, decadent meals. After winning 10,000 Francs at the lottery, Babette decides to prepare an exquisite dinner for the sisters and their friends. However, she never tells them that she had spent the entire amount to prepare the feast. Eventually, it comes to light that Babette had spent all her lottery money to show the sisters her appreciation instead of using it to return back to her Parisian lifestyle. Martine and Philippa cannot believe that their dedicated friend will now stay poor for the rest of her life, to what Babette responds: "An artist is never poor...".
Food, when prepared at its best form, affects all five senses, which create emotions and trigger imagination. It is a temporal form of art that is consumed minutes after it has been prepared. Unlike paintings that can be contemplated years after their creation, a meal is cooked to be consumed right away. It is a form of sacrifice the dish creators need to accept to continue bringing their fantasies to life. Moreover, the act of food sharing has been used by various artists since the 1930s to reflect on the primitive form of hospitality and the social experiences that surround the wisdom of sharing a meal.
Spinning plates (2012)
This award-winning documentary explores the lives of three amazing Chefs' journey to reveal the bond food creates throughout the world. Most of the attention is drawn to a restaurant which is considered to be one of the best in America. Its legendary Chef, Grant Achatz, must battle a life-threatening disease to keep on pursuing his passion. The second story covers a 150-year-old family restaurant that is trying to overcome economical obstacles only with the help of its local community. And the third restaurant is owned and managed by a couple that risks everything to provide for their child. The Chefs allow their personal stories to unfold before the camera, sharing the meaningful nature of food and the power it has to unite the world.
Restaurant business is famous for being extremely challenging for all parties involved including the owners, the managers and the chefs. Succeeding in hospitality projects requires full commitment and dedication in terms of time and energy investment. To cope with such pressure one must be truly enthusiastic about the job. Passion is what allows hospitality professionals to face and battle the challenges the industry throws at them.
Like water for chocolate (1992)
This film focuses on the beauty of Mexican cooking. The main character, Tita, is the youngest of three daughters in a traditional Mexican family. She is madly in love with Pedro, but her controlling mother prevents their marriage from happening. Eventually Pedro marries Tita’s older sister. The young woman is so heartbroken that she starts expressing her feelings through the food she cooks, infecting everyone who eats it with her emotions. That is when she discovers her cooking has magical effects.
Authentic food and its power to absorb emotions play the main role in “Like Water for Chocolate”. However, many are convinced that the recent improvement in technology made the process of cooking less empathic. In fact, how can a restaurant chef “infect” his customers with his or her passion for food if every ingredient has to go through a production line with dozens of electric machines or individuals? According to Professor Michael Boland of the University of Minnesota “seeking to preserve…cultural integrity” is now one of the main trends in the restaurant industry. It answers to people's request for more authentic ways to spend their time and traditionally prepared food.
This animated Disney cartoon is a humorous tale about Remy the rat, who dreams of becoming a famous chef. The character indeed has an incredible talent for cooking and eventually becomes friends with Linguini, a garbage boy, that works at a famous restaurant in Paris. One day the young man discovers Remy’s unbelievable talent. The two unite themselves and work their way to the top, conquering the world of French fine dining!
This Disney film clearly highlights one of the most important challenges of the hospitality industry: competition. It is very difficult for a restaurant to develop and maintain a high reputation, satisfy the majority of clients and withstand negative comments of food critics. A restaurant must know how to market itself, as well as differentiate itself from its competitors. Sometimes, providing high class services and preparing unique dishes for customers is not enough. In “Ratatouille” the exceptional quality of food and Remy’s passion and talent are what made the restaurant stand out.
The movie focuses on Jenna, a young and beautiful woman whose life prospects nobody envies. She works as a waitress in a sloppy diner, hoping to one day collect enough money and leave her abusive and controlling husband. Jenna makes amazing pies, which recipes are inspired by the circumstances of her life and her feelings. An unwanted pregnancy changes the course of events and makes Jenna take matters in her own hands. It is a story of a brave, sharp woman that goes through all the difficulties of her job and personal life to start over and provide for her child.
Professionals in the hospitality and tourism industry are often faced with emotional dissonance. In fact, personal exhaustion can be a reason of poor performance at work in all industries but for the hospitality worker coping with problems that arise from the conflict between experienced and expressed emotions is directed by two rules: the “customer is always right” and “always smile”!
This article was first published on the EHL blog.