Nearly a month ago, I saw Ratatouille, Disney’s latest Pixar creation about a rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a chef, inspired by a French chef’s motto that “Anyone Can Cook.” Fate brings him to Paris to help save the late chef’s failing restaurant, on the shoulders of its clumsy garbage boy turned star cook.

The movie can only be described as absolutely delightful. While the idea of rats in the kitchen will gross out the adults in the audience (don’t worry – the rats take a bath in the industrial dishwasher before cooking), kids (and kids at heart) will love the story. The animation is, of course, wonderful – the food looks so real and delicious that you may start drooling. The movie pokes fun at food critics – Anton Ego, a villian of sorts, proclaims “I don’t LIKE food, I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow” – and even at the French (“I hate to be rude, but, we’re French!). It also makes a point of contemporary issues in the restaurant industry: Colette, the feisty female chef, calls “high cuisine [an] antiquated hierarchy built upon rules by stupid, old men. Roof designed to make it impossible for women to enter this world, but still I’m here;” and the famous late chef’s name is shamelessly applied to a line of frozen foods by the greedy restaurant owner (Emeril, anyone?).

Perhaps the coolest thing about the movie is that the animators went to such great lengths to make the food look good enough to eat, from having Thomas Keller (of French Laundry and Per Se) consult on French cuisine to applying the latest animation technology to the food preparation. Check out the Cooking up CG Food video and the rest of the Ratatouille videos on YouTube.

Some favorite Remy quotes:

“There are possibilities unexplored here – we’ve gotta cook this!”
“If we are what we eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.”

Overall, the movie is heartwarming and encouraging, not only for those that want to cook, but for all of us with big dreams. As Ego says, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

Can’t get enough? Read the NYT review – “A Rat With a Whisk and a Dream”
OR you could make Remy’s signature dish – Confit Byaldi.