Some find solace in movies, some in food… undoubtedly, many find it in both. Film and food are a match made in heaven in The Menu, or maybe hell? Mark Mylod’s darkly comic horror thriller is a diabolical experience that audiences simply cannot afford to miss.
Although the film was released in theaters in November 2022, it has recently gained attention on streaming services such as HBO Max and Disney+.
Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Margot Mills, a young woman who accompanies her date, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) to dine on the remote island of renowned chef Julian Slowik. It’s an exclusive night, but Julian soon reveals that no one is going to leave the island alive, including himself.
Yet this proves to be untrue when Margot asks the chef to make her a cheeseburger. She asks if she can take it with her and is allowed to leave the island while the others perish.
You may be wondering why she had to go, and to understand we need to explain the cheeseburger in The Menu.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE MENU
Earlier in the film, Margot looks through Julian’s house and discovers a photo of him working at a fast food restaurant in his youth. He is smiling in the picture, which is in stark contrast to the grim sincerity he has shown since we saw him.
Margot is eventually captured along with the rest of the guests, her fate sealed…until she tells Julian she’s still hungry. When he asks what she wants—anything—she says she wants a cheeseburger and fries. No deconstructed dish or fancy presentation, just a regular American cheeseburger.
Julian makes the burger with great passion and we see that for perhaps the first time in many years he has enjoyed the experience of cooking.
When she sees that Margot has really enjoyed her food and isn’t pretending, something happens that Julian doesn’t explicitly address; an unspoken admission.
Due to Julian’s prestige and fame, his guests do not necessarily visit his restaurant for the food. They are there to indulge their own pretentiousness, eager for the association of wealth, glamor and exclusivity that eating his food brings
Food is not necessarily something the guests like. It is something to be dissected or not appreciated. Never really liked.
The cheeseburger he makes for Margot, however, reminds him that he has lost the passion he had when he started all those years ago. He may not have worked in a fancy restaurant, but he made honest food that people loved, and this relationship between chef and consumer was something he appreciated.
Now that he’s been reminded of who he once was through the act of making the burger, it doesn’t rekindle his passion so much as remind him of a wasted life, cooking absurd food for people he feels don’t deserve it. .
He has become part of the problem, and perhaps he feels that people like Margot, who have reminded him of the purity of the dining experience, do not deserve to die for what he feels he and his guests represent.
“It kind of blew my mind”
John Benhase acted as a consultant on The Menu when it came to the authenticity of the food, and it is his burger recipe that Ralph’s character makes in the film.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, John explained the origins of the recipe:
“I learned the basics at a restaurant in Atlanta that I was a sous chef at when I was younger called The General Muir. It kind of blew my mind in terms of the approach to a burger and the love that goes into a burger.”
He added: “I cooked thousands and thousands of this burger and then learned from the guys and gals who made the burger every day and were just absolutely skilled and amazing at doing it…”
The menu is now streaming on HBO Max.
In other news, The Menus explained the cheeseburger and closing