DAYTON EATS: Pair these Winter Restaurant Week offerings with these food films

John Favreau in a scene from "Chef," a film about a chef who quits a high-profile job to pursue his passion for food his way The movie provides inspiration to try Spanish rice or other dishes at Watermark in Dayton during Winter Restaurant Week. (AP Photo/Open Road Films, Merrick Morton)

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John Favreau in a scene from "Chef," a film about a chef who quits a high-profile job to pursue his passion for food his way The movie provides inspiration to try Spanish rice or other dishes at Watermark in Dayton during Winter Restaurant Week. (AP Photo/Open Road Films, Merrick Morton)

This month we’re taking a look at food films to pass the time indoors with what will leave you feeling inspired to get in the kitchen and test your skills.

We’ve gone through family friendly options, foreign language contenders and today we take on mainstream box office delights.

The name of the game is constructing a themed dinner and a movie night that is all about the food. These films are fun, interesting, well acted tastemakers fresh from Hollywood that still hold up today despite some of them having a shelf life that’s a little long in the tooth.

They are films that will have you longing to smell and taste the dishes being cooked up in the scenes. With Winter Restaurant Week running now through Jan. 30 at 27 local independent restaurants, I’m picking Restaurant Week menus that can be carried out and carried in to your home that make smart pairings for these tasty films.

“Big Night,” 1996

This film is without question one of my favorite food movies of all time. It stars the delightful Stanley Tucci, a well known foodie in his own right and author of some fantastic cookbooks who stars in the fantastic show “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’' on HBO.

Tucci plays Secondo, brother to actor Tony Shalhoub’s Primo who are running an Italian restaurant in New Jersey in the 1950s. Business is not booming and in a last ditch effort the brothers plan a lavish meal that will pull out all the stops and hopefully save their restaurant, The Paradise. This is the film that put southern Italy’s wonderful timpano on the map for American cooks.

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A photo of the Timpano from a "Big Night''-inspired event at Watermark. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN

A photo of the Timpano from a "Big Night''-inspired event at Watermark. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN

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A photo of the Timpano from a "Big Night''-inspired event at Watermark. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN

Order up: For Winter Restaurant Week, Franco’s Ristorante Italinano is serving up a wide variety of Italian dishes with carry out available. Appetizers for all options are a choice of antipasti, bruschetta bread, shrimp cocktail of ravioli Español. Dessert is a choice of tiramisu or mini cannoli or strawberry and blueberry cheesecake.

For $20.22 main entree choices are lasagna with meat sauce, shrimp scampi, Franco’s spaghetti with mushrooms and sausage. For $25.22 there’s a choice of veal rollatini, pork saltimbocca or chicken milanese. For $30.22 choice of ribeye with mushrooms and onions, market fish florentine or the Italian trio.

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“Chef,” 2014

I love this film from director, writer and star Jon Favreau. It’s a sweet story about a chef who decides to pursue his passion to do food his way when he quits a high profile job and purchases a food truck. It’s got a great cast with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansoon, Sofia Vergara and Dustin Hoffman and some great looking food courtesy of real life chef Roy Choi who has made his Kogi Korean BBQ Mexican-Korean taco truck famous and starred with Favreau in “The Chef Show” on Netflix.

Order up: The Winter Restaurant Week menu at Watermark for $30.22 seems like the perfect fit for this film — there are many options with multiple appetizers, entrees and desserts to choose from. I would personally go with an arepas posole corn masa cake topped with pork shoulder braised in red salsa, and a relish of shaved red cabbage, pickled red onion, scallion, radish, and lime to start with. An order of three veal barbacoa corn tortilla tacos topped with onion, cilantro and avocado foam and served with Spanish rice, and charro beans with caramelized onion and chipotle. For dessert I’d go with the Tres Leches traditional Mexican cake soaked with “three milks” and topped with whipped cream and crushed pistachio.

“Chocolat,” 2000

Remember the days when Johnny Depp was cute, quirky and cool and not creepy? This was him at his most irresistible surrounded by great actors including Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, and Alfred Molina. It’s a romantic film that will warm your heart and make you long for some really good chocolate.

Order up: The triple chocolate dessert cake from elé Bistro & Wine Bar. Their restaurant week menu looks incredible, so you can’t go wrong with anything you choose. This is definitely on my list for a visit this week.

“Fried Green Tomatoes,” 1991

This film is based on the fantastic Fannie Flagg novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” and stars the late, great Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker and Cicely Tyson. This heartwarming story is a story within a story about life, friendship, family, love, kindness and finding happiness.

Order up: You need some southern inspired food to go with this film. Head to Chappys Social House in Centerville for a salad served with a half rack of slow smoked BBQ ribs and a generous piece of chocolate Texas sheet cake. It’s $25.22 a person and there are other options as well including pork chops, beer brined or beer battered cod, Cajun fried shrimp, chicken and waffles, bourbon glazed salmon, boneless chicken breast or four-piece fried chicken dinner.

“Julie & Julia,” 2009

The movie is based on the true story of author Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) who took Julia Child’s renowned cookbook, “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking,” and wrote a daily blog narrating her attempts at each recipe. The great Meryl Streep takes on the role of Julia and Stanley Tucci stars as her husband.

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Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" inspired a popular blog and later the movie "Julia & Julia." Try Roost Modern Italian in Dayton during Winter Restaurant Week for food that will remind you of the acclaimed chef. (Amazon)

Credit: Amazon

Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" inspired a popular blog and later the movie "Julia & Julia." Try Roost Modern Italian in Dayton during Winter Restaurant Week for food that will remind you of the acclaimed chef. (Amazon)

Credit: Amazon

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Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" inspired a popular blog and later the movie "Julia & Julia." Try Roost Modern Italian in Dayton during Winter Restaurant Week for food that will remind you of the acclaimed chef. (Amazon)

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Order up: I would head to Roost Modern Italian for poblano and mascarpone soup topped with fried leeks, a butter poached NY strip with campari tomatoes, garlic confit and grilled lemon and a lemon ricotta tart for $42.22. There are cheaper options like the broccolini and pistachio pesto and linguine ($30.22), grilled pork ($32.22) and blackened salmon a la plancha with a blood orange and shaved fennel salad ($35.22), but my inner Julia says order the steak.

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“Soul Food,” 1997

Sunday family dinners factor prominently in this film about a family in Chicago struggling to keep it together after their matriarch falls into a coma. The family struggles to stay strong, support each other and get along all with hearty helpings of beautiful, delicious lush soul food.

Order up: Head to Hickory River Smokehouse for a three-course meal for two people starting at $20.22. Start with the southern style okra, and end with a peach or blackberry cobbler with plenty of great meat in between.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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