The 20 Most Iconic Food Scenes in Film, Ranked
If there’s one thing that gets our taste buds going, it’s the sight of mouth-watering food scenes in films. Perhaps it’s a brief shot of an authentic Italian pizza, or maybe it’s the sound of sizzling in a pan of butter sauce. Regardless of the dish, there’s no denying that food has become a powerful storytelling tool over the years. Keep reading for 20 of the most memorable food scenes in film, ranked.
20. ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)
Two words: “Special order!” After one customer makes a request for something “new,” a rat named Remy concocts a masterpiece from beneath chef Linguini’s hat, adding white truffle oil and mystery spices to a dish that, quite frankly, we would happily eat for dinner.
19. ‘Julie & Julia’ (2009)
During the opening credits, Julia (Meryl Streep) and her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), are about to eat a mouth-watering sole filet from a sizzling platter. Julia savors the smell and the satisfying crackle of melted butter before the fish is moved to her plate—and naturally, after her first bite, all she can manage to say is, “Oh, my goodness.”
18. ‘Marie Antoinette’ (2006)
We can’t confirm whether Marie Antoinette actually said, “Let them eat cake.” But one thing’s for sure: This scene will definitely make you crave a slice. In the gorgeous montage, the queen (Kirsten Dunst) is living her best life as she eats sweets, sips champagne and embarks on the biggest shoe shopping spree.
17. ‘The Godfather’ (1972)
Need some help making homemade tomato sauce for your spaghetti? Lucky for you, Clemenza (Richard Castellano) has got you covered. Here, Michael (Al Pacino) a cooking lesson, claiming that his “trick” is to include a little splash of wine and sugar. Guess we’ll be trying out this recipe tonight...
16. ‘Chocolat’ (2000)
Filled with tasty montages of the chocolate-making process, it’s safe to say that almost every scene in this movie excites our taste buds. We like to picture ourselves walking into a chocolate shop, where Juliette Binoche helps us use a Mayan fortune-telling disc to predict our favorite treats, based on what we see.
15. ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ (1971)
There’s never a dull moment in Willy Wonka’s (Gene Wilder) colorful factory, but the best moment, by far, has to be Augustus Gloop's (Michael Bollner) infamous chocolate river scene. After the crowd spots him drinking handfuls of delicious chocolate, Augustus accidentally falls and, in a matter of seconds, gets sucked into a giant pipe. *Cue the singing Oompa-Loompas*
14. ‘Matilda’ (1996)
You know the iconic moment: Ms. Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) forces poor Bruce (Jimmy Karz) to eat a giant, fudgy chocolate cake after accusing him of consuming hers. But did you know the scene almost didn’t happen? The film’s writer, Robin Swicord, said, “There were times when, in the budgeting process particularly, [producers] were going, ‘Do we really need the Bruce Bogtrotter scene with the chocolate cake? Because it doesn’t move the story forward.’ But I really loved that scene because his superpower was that he could eat a lot of chocolate cake.” Ditto.
13. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's’ (1961)
Leave it to Audrey Hepburn to make a danish look glamorous. Arguably one of the best opening scenes in movie history, Holly Golightly (Hepburn) steps out of a New York cab with her coffee and pastry in hand. Dressed to the nines in gloves and pearls, she nibbles on her breakfast while admiring the sparkly jewels. And now, we’re suddenly craving a danish and coffee.
12. ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone’ (2001)
Ah, to be a budding wizard at Hogwarts. Aside from exciting new spells and intense quidditch games, Hogwarts newcomers experience the best perk of all: a massive holiday feast with mouth-watering platters. While Ron (Rupert Grint) stuffing his face with drumsticks deserves an honorable mention, the real highlight is when the students get a surprise visit from Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese).
11. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991)
Soup du Jour! Hot Hors d'Oeuvres! Beef Ragout! The Gray Stuff! Even in animation, these dishes look yummy enough to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. And the fact that they’re served in a grand castle makes it all the better.
10. ‘Eat Pray Love’ (2010)
When Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) takes her first bite of margherita pizza, it’s almost as if you can smell the cheese and tomato sauce through the screen. And the fact that she uses this opportunity to give her pal the ultimate pep talk on self-love (“It is a moral imperative to eat and enjoy that pizza!”) makes this scene even more memorable.
9. ‘Elf’ (2003)
Spaghetti doused in syrup doesn't sound appetizing, but for Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell), it's practically a gourmet meal. In the famous scene, he explains that every elf relies on the four main food groups: "candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup."
8. ‘Lady and the Tramp’ (1955)
Ever the romantic, Tramp sweeps Lady off her feet with a sweet, candle-lit dinner, complete with the best spaghetti in town and a live performance of “Bella Notte,” courtesy of their Italian chefs. Who says that pups aren’t romantic?
7. ’National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)
From Catherine’s dry turkey and Aunt Bethany's cat food Jell-O, this dinner scene is easily one of the best (and most quotable) moments of any Christmas film. And of course, nothing beats hearing the crunch of overcooked turkey as everyone tries to enjoy dinner.
6. ‘Chef’ (2014)
In this scene, Jon Favreau makes a buttery grilled cheese sandwich for his son. His passion and attention to detail during the process is simply phenomenal (and bound to make everyone crave a snack).
5. ‘Drunken Master’ (1978)
Way before he teamed up with Chris Tucker for Rush Hour, Jackie Chan showed off his comedic chops as Freddy Wong in this classic. In the standout scene, Freddy attempts to dine and dash after devouring several platters of Chinese food—but things don’t go as planned.
4. ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989)
While enjoying a pastrami and rye sandwich, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) get into a heated argument over whether women fake their orgasms. To prove a point, Sally gives a very convincing performance in the middle of the restaurant…and then casually smiles and returns to her lunch as if nothing happened. Everything about this scene is pure gold—including that epic one-liner from a fellow customer: “I’ll have what she’s having.”
3. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
Who can forget this infamous milkshake scene? After taking a sip of Mia’s (Uma Thurman) $5 vanilla shake, Vincent (John Travolta) is surprised to find that it’s actually really good. The Big Kahuna Burger scene also deserves a shout-out, since Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) uses fast food to make the ultimate power move.
2. ‘Big Night’ (1996)
Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) pull out all the stops to make a famous Italian dish, called Tampino, for a special group of guests. When their rival Pascal (Ian Holm) takes a bite, he delivers the ultimate punchline: “This is so f***ing good, I should kill you!”
1. ‘Mr. Bean's Holiday’ (2007)
Whether you’ve seen it once or a million times, Mr. Bean’s (Rowan Atkinson) comical reaction to his seafood platter never gets old. In the scene, a waiter shows Mr. Bean how to eat an oyster, and he has quite the reaction. He makes a big show of pretending to eat more, though this plan quickly backfires.