Pixar’s Ratatouille owned the nation’s box offices this past weekend, a tribute both to its makers and the country’s seemingly inexhaustible appetite for shows about cooks and cooking. Ratatouille’s pedigree on this score is as impeccable as Pixar money could make it: The studio hired Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se as a consultant. The title dish which the movie’s rat hero Remy and his human assistant Linguini make is actually one that was served in the French Laundry. And, according to somebody who should know, Remy as a chef was wholly Keller-esque.
Zak Pelaccio, who before launching his career as global meatmonger was the saucier at the French Laundry, saw the movie with his prodigal 4-year-old son Hudson this weekend, and says that Remy was, in soul if not in form, totally true to his model Keller. “The little rat was incredibly fastidious, which embodies what Keller does; he’s the most incredibly focused chef I’ve known. The way Remy slices the ingredients, the way each is considered and handled as if it matters as much as the dish as a whole — that’s Keller.” Keller, for his part, tells us that the actual dish served wasn’t ratatouille per se, but vegetable bialdi, a kindred Turkish dish. “It has the same flavor profile as ratatouille, so it was a natural,” he says. And it’s a lot prettier, at least the version made at the French Laundry. Whether it would work the same time-stopping magic on one of our hard-hearted New York critics as it did on the movie’s Anton Ego is another story. But cartoons, at least, take liberties that even the greatest of chefs might not.
Related: Who Drew Those Cool Little Taste Explosions in ‘Ratatouille’? [Vulture]