Is Netflix’s Hunger a True Story? Are Paul and Aoy Based on Real Chefs?

Directed by Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, Netflix’s ‘Hunger’ tells the story of a 20-something woman, Aoy, who works as a cook at her family’s noodle shop. Aoy receives a life-changing opportunity when she joins an elite team of private chefs led by Paul Taylor. However, Aoy soon realizes the cut-throat nature of the culinary world. The Thai thriller drama movie uses food as a metaphor and makes some poignant social commentary about the social classes and their desires. Therefore, viewers must wonder if ‘Hunger’ is based on real events or a true story.

Hunger Is Not a True Story

No, ‘Hunger’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original concept from director Sitisiri Mongkolsiri and screenwriter Kongdej Jaturanrasamee. The story is rooted in the culinary scene of Thailand and explores the conflict between a young woman entering the world of professional cooking and her intolerant master. Director Sitisiri Mongkolsiri (‘Inhuman Kiss’) opened up about the film’s concept in an interview with The Post.

“Thailand has many different kinds, layers, and classes of food, and I saw it as an ideal dimension to explore what poor and rich people eat and consume. Food made me think of one main question: Are people from both these worlds hungry for the same things?” Sitisiri said in the interview. Thus, it is evident that the director wanted to use food and cooking as metaphors for the class struggle in Thailand. The same is represented in the movie through Aoy’s journey, as the protagonist comes from a humble family and struggles financially.

Moreover, the movie also depicts a socio-economic divide between the chefs and their wealthy clients. In a separate interview, the director revealed that he initially devised the film’s concept based on several news events. Sitisiri stated that he came across several reports of the wealthy and influential not caring about breaking the law and engaging in corrupt activities. These events made him question the ambition or “hunger” of society’s influential bunch and wonder what people would do to reach their level.

In simpler terms, Sitisiri wanted to explore the co-relations between human needs and desires through a complex and layered commentary on the class system powered by food as a metaphor. Therefore, from the director’s words, it is safe to assume that real events did not directly inspire the movie’s story. Instead, it provides poignant social commentary about the state of society through complex characters who are each driven by relatable motivations, adding a hint of realism to the movie.

Paul and Aoy Are Fictional Chefs

In ‘Hunger,’ Aoy is the protagonist, a hard-working and talented young chef with actress Chutimon Chuengcharoensukyingsoon essays the role. Meanwhile, Chef Paul Taylor, a celebrity chef,  is her teacher. Actor Nopachai Chaiyanam plays Chef Paul, and his character acts as a foil to Aoy. However, since real events did not inspire the story, it is safe to assume that neither Aoy nor Paul is based on a real chef. Moreover, the actors who essay the role had to undergo intense culinary training to perform the demanding kitchen scenes.

Chutimon undertook culinary training under Chef Gigg at Bangkok’s famous Lert Tip restaurant. Meanwhile, the director worked with Chef Chalee Kader to ensure the kitchen scene remained visually captivating. Hence, with the actors’ dedication and commitment, the film archives an authentic portrayal of the high-pressure and fast-paced atmosphere of a modern professional kitchen.

On the narrative side of things, Paul denotes the epitome of a professional chef’s caliber and success. Meanwhile, Aoy comes from a poor family who sees her cooking skills as an opportunity to provide a better life for her family. Hence, Paul and Aoy are essential two sides of the same coin since both come from poverty and have a passion for cooking. However, they have completely different drives that add emotional context to their stories.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Hunger Filmed?