Late 1990s, on the campus of the renowned Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York.
It's a movie night, and the feature is Big Night, which is to be screened in the main auditorium. The buzz that day on campus is that someone had spotted the movie's star, Stanley Tucci, on the premises. The screening begins and, sure enough, there's Stanley Tucci in front of the culinary demo kitchen, holding a microphone. Turns out the culinary adviser who taught Stan how to cook for the film is a CIA instructor.
The lights go down and the film begins. The climactic dinner scene is so perfectly rendered, you feel as though you can smell the food on the screen.
Suddenly the doors open and a line of student servers emerge holding trays of risotto, followed by bottles of the same Chianti Classico served in the movie.
Which brings us to...
The Top 10 food films to watch on a cold autumn's night:
9. I Like Killing Flies (2004) A peek inside Shopsins, a quirky Greenwich Village diner, and a portrait of its owner, an iconoclast of the first order.
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) All together now: "Fava beans and a nice Chianti."
7. Bella Martha (2001) This lovely German film, released in the USA as Mostly Martha, was remade in 2007 as No Reservations. The remake, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart, doesn't hold a candle to the original.
6. Mystic Pizza (1988) Beautiful New England scenery and the best pizza. And, oh, yeah, a very young Julia Roberts (and her hair!). See if you can spot Matt Damon's silver-screen debut.
5. Tampopo (1985) The film that gave new meaning to the term "spaghetti western." Just add noodles and slurp (loudly).
4. Delicatessen (1991) During a post-apocalyptic food shortage, a deli-owning landlord supplies, um, meat, to his tenants. Is it just us, or is the butchering of humans for food a recurring theme here?
3. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) "Try the cock." Wha?! More people eating. As in, people-eating.
2. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) Courtesy of Ang Lee, beautiful dumplings and a touching story of family dynamics. Oh, and the opening scene features a catfish being dispatched via chopsticks down the throat.
1. Big Night (1996) Sorry for the lack of suspense, but no contest. Timpano, Louis Prima and a pigasmic whole roasted suckling pig. That's amore!
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