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: Back to School (1986): Rodney Dangerfield's hors d'oeuvers sandwich

  • Food-on-film: Waitress (2007): Pies

  • Food-on-film: Last Tango in Paris (1972): Butter sex

  • Food-on-film: Mystic Pizza (1988): Superb review

  • Food-on-film: Hot Shots! (1991): Breakfast scene

  • Food-on-film: Mostly Martha (2001): Walk-in fridge breakdown

  • Food-on-film: Soul Food (1997): Cooking lesson

  • Food-on-film: Volver (2006): Film crew feast

  • Food-on-film: Babette's Feast (1987): The feast

  • Food-on-film: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004): Climax scene

Food-on-film: Back to School (1986): Rodney Dangerfield's hors d'oeuvers sandwich

Back to School (1986):  Rodney Dangerfield's hors d'oeuvers sandwich

Back to School (1986): Rodney Dangerfield's hors d'oeuvres sandwich

Instead of going the socially acceptable small-plate route, Dangerfield's self-loathing character, Thornton Melon, loads up a hollowed-out roll with hors d'oeuvres ("I hate small food, you know?") as fellow partygoers look on in horror. Just another reason the man can't get no respect. Watch the clip.

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Waitress (2007): Pies

Waitress (2007): Pies

Pies play the role of an edible mood ring in this feel-good comedy about small-town girl Jenna (Keri Russell) trying to bake her way out of an unfulfilling marriage. Any emotion that consumes her ultimately becomes a dessert—there's the Pregnant Self-Pitying Loser Pie ("Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambed, of course..."), the I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie ("Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana"), and the Naughty Pumpkin Pie that she bakes in hopes of wooing Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). The results of each creation are pure eye candy, shot with food-porny close-ups from above as they come together in mixing bowls and pastry molds. Watch the clip.

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Last Tango in Paris (1972): Butter sex

Last Tango in Paris (1972): Butter sex

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's steamy drama sparked censorship battles around the world and earned an X rating when it was first released to the U.S. (The Village Voice reported "vomiting by well-dressed wives" at an early screening.) Much of the controversy zeroed in this explicit scene, in which Paul—played by Marlon Brando—forever changed the way we look at the butter tray. Watch the clip.

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Mystic Pizza (1988): Superb review

Mystic Pizza (1988): Superb review

The food critic's affected intonation and over-the-top snobbery is a tad dated in this '80s flick. Still, there's heartwarming appeal when a "superb" review on TV sends a small-time pizzeria crew into ecstatic squeals of delight. Even the most serious four-star chefs must feel the same elation when a laudatory review drops. Watch the clip.

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Hot Shots! (1991): Breakfast scene

Hot Shots! (1991): Breakfast scene

Before he was a tiger-blood–fueled rock star from Mars, Charlie Sheen broke hearts and eggs as Lt. Topper Harley in this Top Gun parody. Here, he's #winning at cooking a full breakfast—eggs, bacon and hash browns—on his lover's smokin' hot stomach. Watch the clip.

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Mostly Martha (2001): Walk-in fridge breakdown

Mostly Martha (2001): Walk-in-fridge breakdown

In this German flick, a precursor to 2001's No Reservations with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Martina Gedeck embodies Martha Klein—a toque who, like many real-life chefs, is Type A to a fault. Despite her neuroses and petulance, you can't help but feel for the central character when she puts on a strong public face after her sister's death, before hightailing it to the walk-in to sob in private. Kelly Cutrone would be proud. Watch the clip.

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Soul Food (1997): Cooking lesson

Soul Food (1997): Cooking lesson

Big Mama Joe says it best: "Soul-food cookin' is about cooking from the heart." No matter what she's preparing, the Joseph family matriarch follows her instincts rather than a recipe, understanding that sometimes good cooking is as much about the feeling you put into your food as the technique you use to prepare it.

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Volver (2006): Film crew feast

Volver (2006): Film crew feast

We're not sure Penelope Cruz can cook in real life, but damn, does she make a convincing chef in this Spanish-language drama. When her restaurateur neighbor suddenly leaves town, she steps up and churns out a three-course meal of local specialties for 30 film-crew members without missing a step—or revealing the dead body lying in her kitchen.

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Babette's Feast (1987): The feast

Babette's Feast (1987): The feast

When a French housekeeper (the film's titular heroine) wins the lottery, she unselfishly uses her new fortunate to prepare a sumptuous meal for her employers, two pious Danish sisters and their fellow parishioners. Though the diners attempt to deny the earthly pleasures of fine red wine, decadent cheeses and other Gallic edibles, their eyes glaze over with hedonistic delight as they politely but ravenously scrape their plates clean. Watch the clip.

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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004): Climax scene

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004): Climax scene

After surmounting a number of bizarre challenges, including getting propositioned by a back-country yokel, the burger-craving cohorts finally reach their destination, only to find themselves penniless. The heroic Neil Patrick Harris comes to their rescue, forking over cash for their meal, plus some extra dough to cover "love stain" damage to their car. As they stuff their faces, they come to realize that they need to pursue their other life goals with as much enthusiasm as they did their fast-food fix. Who knew epiphanies came so cheap?

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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