I love Disney as much as I love food and Disney Pixar’s masterpiece Ratatouille combines those two loves in the most magical way. Remy is a rat, who loves food. He finds himself separated from his family and in order to cope finds comfort in his love of food, with the help of his imaginary friend the ‘ghost’ of the famous late chef Gusteau.
Remy by Disney magic finds himself beneath Gusteau’s Paris restaurant, which is now struggling after the passing of the famous head chef. In Gusteau’s kitchen, Remy gets to pursue his dream of being a chef and cooking, but of course, no one wants a rat in the kitchen! Kitchen porter Linguini becomes his unlikely ally, and together they cook with Remy hidden under his toque literally pulling the strings! The restaurant soon wins acclaim, but nothing is certain for Remy and Linguini particularly as scary food critic Anton Ego comes to visit.
As always with Disney movies, we are given a free pass to dream with Remy as he discovers, just as Gusteau famously said, ‘anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great!
This movie has so much heart, and of course is very much about the food. Even though it is an animated movie, the wizards at Disney Pixar have created food that looks beautifully real. You can almost smell the elaborate dishes cooked in the kitchen as the steam rises from them or they are whizzed into the dining room. The film’s signature dish ratatouille looks delicious and if you don’t feel compelled to make ratatouille after watching this film, I will eat my hat! (I have even taken the liberty of sharing my tried and tested ratatouille recipe again below!)
The ratatouille cooked in the movie is an haute cuisine version created by US chef Thomas Keller who was consulted with for the movie. It is intended to be an inspired and elevated version of the classic dish, almost a confit with vegetables sliced wafer-thin, then baked. My recipe is truer to the classic and a more rustic version of the dish.
So why not watch this great movie and get cooking!?
2 Courgettes (thinly sliced)
1 Aubergine (thinly sliced)
4 Tomatoes (thinly sliced)
2 Cans of Chopped Tomatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1 Red Onion (diced)
Mixed Peppers (diced)
1 Lemon (just the zest)
2 tsp Dried Mixed Herbs
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil (to drizzle over the top)
1) Preheat your oven to 190 degrees and prepare all your vegetables so they are sliced/chopped and ready to go!
2) Fry onions and garlic on a medium heat, with a drizzle of oil (I used rapeseed) until just softened and the garlic is fragrant.
3) Add diced peppers and continue to soften.
4) Add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, stir to combine and add balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, salt, pepper, mixed herbs and balance to suit your taste.
5) Allow to simmer, and reduce slightly… Once happy with the consistency, turn off the heat.
6) In a circular and repetitive pattern, lay a slice of tomato, courgette and aubergine upright on top of the sauce and swirl around the outside of the pan, and repeat to cover the middle.
7) Once complete, drizzle some olive oil over the top, season with a twist of salt & pepper and sprinkle some more dried herbs and nutritional yeast over the top.
8) Bake at 190 degrees, (ideally covered with foil) for 50-60 minutes (if using foil uncover for the final 20 minutes of the bake)
9) Serve with rice, orzo or some fresh bread!
The movie takes the love of food, and the people who love it seriously and it is an instant classic. It seems fitting to give the last word to Anton Ego – the fearsome food critic of Ratatouille:
‘In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.’’
Happy Cooking Friends!