You might live in this town because you work in the film industry. Or because you moved here from Topeka to get into it (sorry). Or you might just live here in spite of the vast machinery of the film business. Regardless, we have a special relationship to movies in this town, whether we want to or not. And although there are some downsides to such proximity (fake helicopters, your street parked with film crews, waiting in line behind Jerry Seinfeld at Sports Chalet), there are a lot of fun perks. We go to a lot of movies. We spend far too much time thinking about them. We obsess about various aspects of film-making. Romain Vetter has turned the latter into an entire website.
MovieRecipes.net brings the union of food and movies to a level vastly preferable to the crap food you get at concession stands. Vetter gives a short synopsis of notable films and then provides what many of us secretly yearn for: a recipe to go with the dinner or dish that you see onscreen. So that after you watch Superbad for the 14th time, you can go duplicate that tiramisu in your own kitchen. (Vetter is also working on a site entirely devoted to Cake Pop Recipes. On which more later.)
We caught up with Vetter, who is from La Mirada, the other day, and asked him all kinds of annoying questions about what prompted his vocation. Turn the page, and check back later for a Pulp Fiction vanilla milkshake recipe.
Squid Ink: How did you come up with the idea for your website?
Romain Vetter: I really wanted to create my own website for a while. I came up with the idea knowing my passion for food and movies. I didn't do much research but I knew something was missing. Many cooking sites provide recipes inspired by movies. We provide the exact or close recipe from those movies. It is a unique concept and an instant hit.
SI: Do you have a background in food or film — or is this just a happy accident?
RV: I do not have background in food or film, but I truly love them both. My wife and I cook every night, either our own creation, some 'Better Homes' concoctions or some movie recipes now. We also try to watch a movie together every week. We both are very busy, but it's important to keep the food and film tradition up.
SI: How long have you been doing this, and how many recipes have you posted?
RV: The site was created in November 2009 and there is about 150 recipes posted now.
SI: How do you come up with the recipes?
RV: My writers browse the web for them, add parts and ingredients, then publish.
SI: Do you test all of them? And if so, where?
RV: Not all of them at this time. However, we are in the process of hiring a part-time chef. He or she will test and create all recipes as well as coming up with new content ideas.
SI: We hear you're a big “Donnie Brasco” fan? What's up with that?
RV: I am since he is “a friend of mine.” I feel we are both connected, maybe not on the mafia side but on the cooking wise definitely. “Punch. Punch of salt. Punch or Pinch? Punch, punch. Not pinch. What's I say? I say pinch?” This is a classic movie recipe quote.
SI: Is it true that Italian or Italian-American movies have better food, or is that just a cultural stereotype?
RV: Oh yes. Big time! A true mafia guy knows how to whack someone as much as cooking a great Italian dish. You can't be a real Italian gangster and not know how to cook. It's just unheard of.
SI: What's your favorite movie food scene?
RV: It has to be the prison cooking scene from Goodfellas. How did those guy get all those ingredients to cook? I would surely love to be in prison with the for a meal like this.
SI: Is there a movie food scene that should really, really wound up on the cutting room floor?
RV: The ratatouille recipe scene from Ratatouille.
SI: What was the oddest recipe you ever came up with?
RV: It has to be the 'Timpano' from Big Night (maybe not the oddest, but the most intriguing one for sure).
SI: Have you ever come across foods in movies that you decided NOT to recreate?
RV: Yes, there is. Example: the Spaghetti and Meatballs, both in Hancock and Lady and the Tramp. This is a recipe repeat that we just don't want to publish at this time. I just pick the movie I love the most.
SI: What's the best recipe you ever created from a movie?
RV:I will have to say the Birthday Cake from Knocked Up. I've seen many people pick it up on Google and Yahoo Answers and try it.
SI: Do you think this the marriage of film and food is a recent phenomenon? Or is this something more archetypical?
RV: It's not recent but definitely coming up big since Julie and Julia. This film could fill up my site with recipes in one month! I think people are getting more and more obsessed with movies and celebrities. What do they wear, drive, drink, … eat. We just want to be part of it and what better way to get in by cooking.
SI: So do you just watch movies for the recipes now? It must be kind of a relief to watch a movie that doesn't really have any food in it. The Bourne movies, for example. Jason Bourne doesn't seem to eat.
RV: [Laugh.] I am trying not to, but I have to admit: Every single movie I watch, I pay a very close attention to any food scene. I even carry a little notebook to write them down as I see them. Otherwise I might forget… You're right Jason Bourne does not eat. EVER! I might have to watch it again to make sure. It's a relief but a small frustration as well. I just wait for the food scene the entire movie and if it doesn't happen — I'm disappointed. Where is my movie recipe?
SI: Are there any good food scenes from action movies, or is the not eating thing genre-specific?
RV: I'm sure there is. I haven't found a scene where Stallone or Schwarzenegger is cooking or eating something. Maybe it's a project for Hollywood.
SI: What are your plans for the future? Food and archaeology; Film and bartending? Or are you going to stick with this?
RV: The immediate future is to keep developing movie recipes. Next we're going to produce our movie recipe videos. It's going to be very exciting — one movie review, one recipe. A book is also in the pipeline. Stay tuned.