11 Of The Best Fictional Chefs Of All Time

Whose onscreen cuisine reigns supreme? Let's look at the culinary greats.

We at The Takeout love celebrating food, and that includes honoring the chefs who make it. However, there is one subset of the greater culinary community that doesn't get nearly enough praise: the chefs who never actually existed. Films and TV shows have given us so many cooks across the decades who are capable of conceiving and serving up stellar dishes, each of whom has a distinct personality that shines through in their cooking (which we wish we could taste). Here are our picks for the best fictional chefs of all time.

Elzar (Futurama)

We begin with a "bam!" Elzar is a futuristic chef with a successful restaurant and cooking show to his name. He has four arms, a tactical advantage that any chef would want. (Too many famous chefs seemingly have four mouths, amirite?)

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It's worth remembering that in the Futurama universe, a chef doesn't just cook for Earthlings but for countless other interplanetary beings as well. Elzar is evidently able to serve up meals that can satisfy them all. He can even make robot food that humans enjoy the taste of (after it badly burns the human's tongue, that is).

Leona (Mystic Pizza)

Sometimes a great fictional chef doesn't command the spotlight but instead stays in the background and keeps things on the right track. That's very much the case with Leona (Conchata Ferrell) of the Mystic Pizza pizzeria. Her restaurant doesn't always pull in big crowds, but those who do eat her pizza are wowed by it. It's made from a time-honored recipe and contains a secret ingredient known only to Leona herself.

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Her pizza even manages to earn a rave review and four stars from a snobby critic in what is easily one the best pizza moments in all of film and TV. In between Leona's hard work and sassy moments, she also finds time to offer motherly warmth to those around her. Probably the sweetest ingredient of all.

Chef (South Park)

School cafeteria lunches may not be the most glamorous of cooking gigs, but Jerome "Chef" McElroy (Isaac Hayes) did it with style and with a song in his heart—usually an inappropriate one. In his near decade on South Park, Chef wasn't just a chef, but also a kind-hearted ally to the four main boys and one of the sanest adults in the entire town. What's more, he seemed to have genuinely solid cooking skills: Students would always happily gobble up his lunchtime offerings while people of all ages went crazy for his Chocolate Salty Balls. Chef's time on the show ended in very unideal circumstances, but we'll always remember the great times, and he'll always be remembered as one of the great fictional chefs.

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Monica Geller (Friends)

A chef needs to be clean and well-organized, and it's safe to say that Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) ticks those boxes more thoroughly than just about anyone, real or fictional. Friends is positively stuffed with references to how amazing Monica's food tastes. Her homemade candy is said to taste like "little drops of heaven" and, as the above video illustrates, people are willing to risk decapitation by door just to eat some of her Thanksgiving feast.

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It's also worth mentioning how varied Monica's culinary career is. At different points throughout the show's 10 seasons she works as a sous-chef, a food critic, a caterer, a head chef, and, much to her embarrassment, a waitress at a retro diner. All of this no doubt developed her into a very well-rounded gastronome.

Remy (Ratatouille)

If you can look past the fundamental grossness of a rat handling food in a kitchen—and not everyone can—there's no denying the impressive cooking ability and passion that Remy (Patton Oswalt) brings to Parisian eatery Gusteau's. Blessed with "a highly developed sense of taste and smell," this street rat has studied how to compose dishes of excellent human food and has the resourcefulness to navigate a kitchen and make it happen, despite his small stature and the fact that rats are a restaurant's greatest menace.

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Remy solidifies his top chef status when he cooks up a ratatouille that blows the mind and even unlocks the childhood memories of tough food critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole). Ego henceforth declares Remy the "finest chef in France," and who are we to argue?

Reese (Malcolm in the Middle)

Few would have guessed that beneath the thuggish exterior of simple-minded Reese (Justin Berfield) lurks a genius chef. Reese's gift is first uncovered in the season two episode "Reese Cooks," in which he takes a cooking class and wows his teacher with "the best spinach quiche" she's ever tasted.

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Reese continues to exercise his terrific culinary instincts and abilities throughout the series. His pièce de résistance comes in the fifth-season episode "Thanksgiving" when he whips up a lavish, inventive feast for the family. We can only dream about how it tasted, but his dad's reaction to one tiny sampling of Reese's sauce is a helpful indicator (see above).

Mr. Ping (Kung Fu Panda)

Yet another cartoon animal showing us humans how it's done. Mr. Ping (James Hong) lives and breathes his noodle shop and spends almost all his time preparing and perfecting his dishes; it's clear that his dedication pays off, as we often see animals from across the kingdom happily consume whatever he serves up. Mr. Ping is even able to guide his goofy son Po (Jack Black) toward becoming a skilled chef himself. That's an achievement.

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Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (The Bear)

There's nothing Disneyish or sitcomish about the culinary world that Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) occupies in The Bear. It's full of obstacles and intensity, but Carmy pushes through it with impressive inner strength, as well as premium cooking skills honed within the finest—and most abusive—restaurant kitchens. He brings his James Beard Award–winning talent to a struggling Chicago sandwich shop and does his best to mold it into something great. Unlike many chefs of TV and cinema, his mastery is rarely put on a pedestal, but the proof is in the pudding.

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This show has even been credited with inspiring people in the real world to give Chicago's Italian beef sandwiches a try. You know a fictional chef is special when he makes stomachs rumble in reality.

Carl Casper (Chef)

The Iron Man director Jon Favreau plays an iron chef in this 2014 film. Carl ticks all the boxes of great chefititude: a depth and breadth of knowledge, visible passion, decisive leadership, and the skill to pull off all the cool chopping and slicing. But the chef's biggest asset is his vision, to the point that he dramatically quits his uninspiring restaurant job and opens his own scrappy food truck. His new venture, just like the restaurant before it, uniformly wows diners and critics, save for the occasional snarky review. To Carl's credit, he's able to respond to one snarky review with an epic rant.

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Julian Slowik (The Menu)

We've saved the least pleasant chefs for last. Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) is a ridiculously successful chef who has invited a select group to dine at his restaurant on a private island. It turns out that his ultimate plan isn't to please his diners but to petrify them. (Come to think of it, does visiting a rich person's island ever end well?)

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As sinister as Slowik's motives are, there's no denying his awesome powers as a chef. He can create extravagant meals that satisfy insufferable elites and also whip up a greasy cheeseburger and fries to impress the not-so-fancy Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). He does it all with an undeniable, only slightly murderous showmanship that elevates food to an art form. Such a shame that he should use his gifts for evil.

The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld)

People from across the Seinfeldverse line up to enjoy soup that's been simmered to perfection by the character known only as the Soup Nazi (played to perfection by Larry Thomas). Although this chef loses points for rudeness and dictatorial tendencies, he gains them all back thanks to just how amazing his soup skills are. It's so good it'll make your knees buckle, and Jerry Seinfeld even ditches his girlfriend on the spot rather than risk losing access to it. Although based on a real New York soupman, the Soup Nazi is very much a unique character, and one of Seinfeld's all-time best.

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