The 50 best food-on-film moments of all time

Break out the silverware for TONY's list of great grub caught on camera.

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  • Food-on-film: Click to the next image to see our 50 best food-on-film moments of all time

  • Food-on-film: Raging Bull (1980): The overcooked steak

  • Food-on-film: Annie Hall (1977): Boiling lobsters

  • Food-on-film: The Hours (2002): Separating eggs

  • Food-on-film: Gold Rush (1925): The roll dance

  • Food-on-film: Goodfellas (1990): Dinner in prison

  • Food-on-film: The Godfather (1972): Tomato sauce recipe

  • Food-on-film: Once Upon a Time in America (1984): The charlotte russe

  • Food-on-film: Pulp Fiction (1994): $5 Shake

  • Food-on-film: Cool Hand Luke (1967): 50 hard-boiled eggs in one hour

  • Food-on-film: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962): Rats for lunch

Food-on-film: Click to the next image to see our 50 best food-on-film moments of all time

In time for the annual NYC Food Film Festival, we've compiled our 50 favorite food-on-film moments of all time. This isn't a list of our favorite chow-focused flicks—though staples like Big Night and Babette's Feast have made the cut. Instead, we've widened the pool to pick out scenes across all genres that simply got our stomachs rumbling—in hunger and occasionally in disgust. Think we spoiled the soup? Put down the steak knife and give us the what-for in the comments. Or holler at us on Twitter (@thefeednyc) using the hashtag #foodonfilm.


Raging Bull (1980): The overcooked steak

Raging Bull (1980): The charcoal steak

An overcooked steak ignites boxer Jake LaMotta's wrath in Martin Scorsese's violent sports flick. Robert De Niro's belligerent backseat cooking ("You overcook it, it's no good. It defeats its own purpose") and furious table flip is bone-rattling stuff—but we briefly consider a similar reaction each time a restaurant presents us with an incinerated slab of beef. Watch the clip.

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Annie Hall (1977): Boiling lobsters

Annie Hall (1977): Boiling lobsters

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton's calamitous attempt to boil live lobsters perfectly captures the conflicting feelings we face each time we plunge those icky but luscious crustaceans into the scorching water: Gleeful but guilty, rapacious and a little terrified. Too bad we don't get to see Woody in a bib. Watch the clip.

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The Hours (2002): Separating eggs

The Hours (2002): Separating eggs

Though Meryl Streep would go on to portray Francophile chef Julia Child in 2009's Julie & Julia, she caught our eye in the kitchen seven years earlier in this drama. Streep—who portrays a troubled New York editor planning a party for a friend at the end of his life—is most affecting when she meticulously separates eggs, concentrating intensely on the task even as she threatens to crack.

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Gold Rush (1925): The roll dance

Gold Rush (1925): The roll dance

Charlie Chaplin's iconic dinner-roll dance has been replicated and parodied so many times, it's incredible the genuine article still has legs. (Rim shot!) Though Chaplin wasn't the first to try the gag (Fatty Arbuckle deployed a similar stunt in 1917 film The Rough House), the Tramp's eyebrow-wiggling, shoulder-shrugging rendition of the tabletop ballet is unsurpassed. Watch the clip.

Goodfellas (1990): Dinner in prison

Goodfellas (1990): Dinner in prison

"Beyond the Sea" croons in the background as Paulie, Vinnie and Johnny Dio prepare dinner in the clink. These gangsters eat better in prison than most of us do on the outside: garlic sliced so thin with a razor blade that it would "liquefy in the pan with just a little oil," iced lobsters, steak seared in a skillet, wine, Scotch and pasta sauce that's a touch too oniony. Watch the clip.

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The Godfather (1972): Tomato sauce recipe

The Godfather (1972): Tomato sauce recipe

The only red splatter more ubiquitous than blood in Mafia flicks may be pasta sauce. Those who wish to make their own would benefit from a close viewing of the original Godfather. Capo Peter Clemenza—the same trencherman who utters the line "leave the gun, take the cannoli" elsewhere in the film—offers a decent recipe for Sunday gravy: "You start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; you make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. And a little bit of wine, and a little bit of sugar—that's my trick." Watch the clip.

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984): The charlotte russe

Once Upon a Time in America (1984): The charlotte russe

Patrick "Patsy" Goldberg has one foot in his youth and the other in adulthood when he ventures to trade a charlotte russe—a white cake pastry topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry—for sexual favors in Sergio Leone's sweeping crime epic. He picks out the five-cent confection from a local bakery ("for the two-penny one she only gives you a hand job; I can do that myself") and brings it to Peggy, an underage harlot. He foils his chance to seal the deal while waiting for her in the stairwell, swiping fingerfuls of cream from the cake and eventually devouring the thing in a few desperate bites. Watch the clip.

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Pulp Fiction (1994): $5 Shake

Pulp Fiction (1994): $5 shake

Would a chick as cool and dishy as Mia Wallace really choose a restaurant like Jack Rabbit Slim's for her faux date with Vincent Vega? We're not so sure. Nonetheless, the fictional 1950s theme restaurant is a rich and bizarre setting for our favorite Pulp Fiction food moment. John Travolta's take on whether Mia's extravagant "Martin and Lewis" (vanilla) milk shake is worth its $5 price tag: "Goddamn, that's a pretty fucking good milk shake." Watch the clip.

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Cool Hand Luke (1967): 50 hard-boiled eggs in one hour

Cool Hand Luke (1967): 50 hard-boiled eggs in one hour

Thanks to the exploits of famous competitive eaters like Takeru Kobayashi, we're rarely dazzled anymore by feats of gluttony. But Paul Newman's shirtless 50-egg coup in this prison drama still sparkles. As the unvanquishable Lucas Jackson, Newman earns the respect of his fellow inmates by wolfing 50 peeled eggs until his stomach is distended—in the words of one prisoner—"like a ripe watermelon that's about to bust itself open." Watch the clip.

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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962): Rats for lunch

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962): Rats for lunch

Joan Crawford, as the wheelchair-bound Blanche, and Bette Davis as her villainous sister and abusive caretaker, Jane, face off in this delightfully perverse thriller. When the rapidly unraveling Jane serves Blanche her lunch beneath a silver dome, you just know there's foul play afoot. Blanche's shrieking, hysterical reaction to the meal—a juicy, tail-and-all rat—is good, twisted fun. Watch the clip.

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Users say

2 comments
Andy bobandy
Andy bobandy

Expected to see The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover in the top 10, and it wasn't even on the list!

mmhmmm
mmhmmm

Mmmhmmm. this is a tasty burger