Recent reports that Russell Crowe is to direct a Marco Pierre White biopic raise several questions. Namely, why? And, why now Hasn’t Crowe heard that the gloss came off that whole macho, brooding chef thing a decade ago? The White Heat mythology is now merely warm. But it did set me thinking: how might cinema turn other industry figures into dramatic blockbusters? Here are my six hot Hollywood pitches (legal notice: the stories you are about to read are entirely fictional, intended for entertainment purposes only).
Meat The Feckers. Pitch: heart-warming comedy set in 2042. Fading star Gordon Ramsay (Kevin Bacon) moves in with adorable US family, the Feckers, and their whippet, Marcus, which growls every time Ramsay appears. Ramsay storms around calling the family “f***ing idiots” and “lazy bullshitters” after finding out-of-date fish fingers in the freezer and spotting the kids chopping veg on a meat board. But, in time, the Feckers teach the chef that such aggressive histrionics are no way to treat people and build teams in the 21st century. The film ends with a smiling Ramsay enjoying a vegan meal, as he asks: “But guys, could we rename the dog Marco?” [Laughter, credits]
Tagline: ‘He swears… because he cares.’
The Fast & The Curious. Pitch: high-stakes behind-the-scenes drama – think Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 or a deadly serious Larry Sanders – exploring the rivalry between two colossi of British cooking, Antony Worrall Thompson (Jason Statham) and Brian Turner (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson). They will stop at nothing, even using a hidden microwave, to be crowned king of 00s cult TV show Ready Steady Cook. Vin Diesel’s Ainsley Harriott tries to keep the peace as the tension boils over.
Tagline: ‘Aubergine, noodles, custard? It’s war!’
Attack The Cheese Block. Pitch: influenced by high-rise Indonesian martial arts epic, The Raid, Attack… sees a mysterious French chef known only as The Hat (Rhys Ifans or Mark Gatiss) haunted by recurring nightmares in which, in restaurants and courtrooms, he is forever fighting off relentless inspectors from an unnamed guidebook armed only with a selection of artisan French cheeses. No matter how tough it gets, The Hat will never resort to cheddar.
Tagline: ‘They came for lunch. Now they’re seeing stars.’
28 Days, Waiter. Pitch: after the collapse of Britain’s casual dining sector, unflappable Fred Sirieix (Eric Cantona) guides traumatised restaurant investors through an apocalyptic landscape to a remote northern food hall, safe from this contagion. Includes cameos from tribal warlords the Hairy Bikers and Jamie Oliver (Tom Hardy), a doomed restaurateur whose Vespa packs up near Coventry.
Tagline: ‘My Million Pound Menu: Uncut.’
The Man With The Golden Espuma Gun. Pitch: tormented by fifth-rate copycats, mild-mannered Ferran Adrià (Sideways’ Paul Giamatti) reinvents himself as crack assassin, El Bully, hunting down and killing the worst offenders. In this Tarantino gore-fest, Adrià dispatches his victims in fitting tributes to molecular gastronomy: sous-vide cooking, spherification, frozen in liquid nitrogen. In Britain, Heston (Ross Kemp), helps Adrià take out a pub chefs’ trade show with 300 gallons of bacon ice-cream.
Tagline: ‘Is that deconstructed dessert… to die for?’
Roastbusters. Pitch: gritty MasterChef spin-off in which maverick cops John Torode (Guy Pearce) and Gregg Wallace (a first serious big screen role for comedian Harry Hill), police London’s Sunday roast scene. In a tense climax in a carvery in Deptford, Torode defies Chief Superintendent Tom Kerridge (Cliff Parisi, aka Minty from EastEnders), to ensure that no one will serve cauliflower cheese with gravy in this town again.
Strapline: ‘Look at the state of those parsnips, John!’
This column first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Restaurant magazine, the leading title for the UK's restaurant industry. For more features, comment, interviews and in-depth analysis of the restaurant sector subscribe to Restaurant magazine here.