Mark Mylod’s dark comedy film ‘The Menu’ revolves around Julian Slowik, a celebrity chef who runs the restaurant named Hawthorne. The establishment is located on a private island, visited by a group of rich individuals, who aspire to savor the mastery of the chef by dining at the place. Although the dining of the guests starts satisfactorily, the group soon realizes that the famed chef has startling plans concerning their fates. Ralph Fiennes, a two-time Academy Award-nominated actor, plays Slowik in the captivating film. Since Fiennes’ character is a chef, the viewers must be wondering whether the actor is a chef or knows cooking. Well, let’s find out!
Is Ralph Fiennes Really a Chef? Did He Learn to Cook for The Menu?
No, Ralph Fiennes is not a chef in real life. The actor had to learn cooking and the behavior of a professional chef to portray Julian Slowik. Dominique Crenn, a three-star Michelin chef, worked on the film as a consultant to train Fiennes. Since Fiennes’ character cooks only in one scene, Crenn focused on other fundamentals of a chef. “Not so much cooking, because I’m the master chef, I don’t actually cook until one moment towards the end,” Fiennes told Variety about the lessons he learned from Crenn.
Crenn played a major role in helping Fiennes perfect Slowik’s body language. “It’s more the behavior in the kitchen. She [Crenn] gave me a lot of tips on how you behave, how you move, how you talk to people. The shorthand of communication in that level of kitchen,” the actor said in the same Variety interview. Fiennes even made use of the lessons he learned from Crenn to try cooking at home. “So that was great, and also an excuse to try cooking at home, but don’t ask me to chop an onion,” the actor added.
Crenn’s guidance was meticulous and it is evident in the way Slowik behaves with his chefs and customers. “[…] she [Crenn] was guiding me on the demeanor of the master chef and how you don’t need to yell and scream; you say something to one of the chefs, ‘that could be a little slower, that’s a bit too hot;’ you create an atmosphere of calm but everyone is aware of the power that you have,” Fiennes told AP Archive. Crenn’s lessons helped him cook the cheeseburger Slowik cooks for Margot Mills/Erin. “What you see in the movie, I was guided through really good beef and you know, when to flip it and then we had to put the right amount of cheese and mustard on and grilling the patty till it’s just right, it’s intuition,” Fiennes added.
Crenn had an interesting way of explaining the nuances of the job to Fiennes. “The first thing I [said to Ralph was], ‘You are the director … this is your symphony. Everyone is as important that is [participating], but you are the one that is going to direct it,’” Crenn told Tasting Table. “When you have to have your own confidence, you have to bring confidence to [everyone], and [you have to have] the intensity, [the ability to] make sure that every note goes together. From the start to the finish, this is a beautiful symphony,” the chef added.
Fiennes’ behavior and body language as a master chef, along with his cooking, make Slowik an authentic character. The actor displayed his dedication to perfect his portrayal by becoming a commendable student to Crenn as well.