Ralph Fiennes cooks up culinary heaven and hell in ‘The Menu’

By Hanna Rantala

LONDON (Reuters) – Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult get served a meal to die for in “The Menu”, a satirical thriller set in the world of fine dining.

The “Queen’s Gambit” and “X-Men” stars play Margot and Tyler, a young couple who gets whisked a way to a remote private island hosting the exclusive gastronomic establishment “Hawthorne” and its many vegetable patches, farm animals, beehives and live-in staff dormitories.

The two are part of a select group of 12 who have paid a small fortune to dine at the restaurant run by the celebrated American chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).

Unbeknownst to his wealthy guests, Slowik and his team of robot-like professionals have planned a one-off menu with some unexpected ingredients especially for them. But the arrival of Margot seems to sour Slowik’s concoction.

The movie pokes fun at its moneyed guests, their ostentatious fine dining experience and the celebrity chef phenomenon, all of which have driven Slowik to despair and disillusionment.

“This story for me is about privilege for privileges’ sake or pretentiousness for pretentiousness’ sake,” Taylor-Joy told Reuters at the film’s London premiere on Wednesday.

“If you’re not enjoying yourself and if you’re not enjoying life, then what are you really doing? I think a lot of these characters are insatiable and it’s definitely a dark satire on that topic.”

The film’s director, Mark Mylod, of “Succession” and “Game of Thrones” fame, brought in top chefs to ensure authenticity.

“We worked with Dominique Crenn, she has three Michelin stars and is literally a world-class chef…we worked with David Gelp, who was the creator of ‘Chef’s Table’ and came in to do some great food porn shots for us,” he said.

In addition, Crenn and Gelp inspired some of the cast to get cooking, too.

“I wasn’t really a foodie before this. I got more into it having watched those things and learnt more about it. And when I’m not shooting, I do like to cook and I’ve just recently got into baking a little bit,” said Hoult.

“The Menu”, which also stars John Leguizamo as a Hollywood star of yesteryear, Janet McTeer as a snobby food critic and Hong Chau as the restaurant’s unwavering maitre d’, is out in cinemas globally from Nov. 17.

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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