How The Chef's Table Opening Credits Shaped The Menu's Disturbing Finale Sequence

Spoiler alert: This article talks about the ending of the movie "The Menu"

In the dark comedy movie "The Menu" the madness of the lead character is revealed somewhat slowly. Suddenly it becomes clear that this chef (and his devoted staff) needs to be far from the kitchen knives.

From the amuse bouche at the start of the movie to the flaming s'mores dessert at the end, the audience gets to see what happens to the less savory — and they are all unsavory — characters trapped on an exclusive island at the mercy of a sociopathic chef-villain running his own "Hell's Kitchen."

Part of the artistry of the film, released on November 18, is its attention to detail, including the gorgeous, close-up presentation of each course. To ensure accuracy, director Mark Mylod consulted chef Dominique Crenn, a James Beard Award semifinalist and the nation's first female to earn two Michelin stars.

Crenn and her San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Crenn, were featured in the documentary series "Chef's Table" in Season 2, Episode 3 (via IMDb). It appears that the Netflix program moved Mylod with its culinary beauty. While Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" plays in the background, the opening credits show an aerial view of the front-of-the-house staff theatrically setting an artistic table, complete with bold flourishes of sauce.

A menu to die for

The display inspired the last scene of "The Menu," starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy. At Mashed, we believe dessert is the best course. But if you're at Chef Julian Slowick's (Fiennes) fictional Hawthorne restaurant, it might be prudent to blame the diet and cut out early.

Fictional chef-genius turned cult leader Slowick delivers a holier-than-thou presence while referencing pedestrian trends like Taco Tuesday and s'mores with obvious disdain. Meanwhile, one of the characters, a kiss-up who wants to impress Slowick, tells his dining companion, "He's not just a chef, he's a storyteller. The game is trying to guess what the overarching theme of the entire meal is going to be. You won't know the theme until the end." Indeed.

That describes Dominique Crenn, a judge on Fox's "MasterChef: Legends," as well. She also believes food is a story and an expression of memory — just hold the mania. "I'm not serving a menu. I'm serving a story. I'm serving my soul. I'm serving a conversation," Crenn revealed on the Chef's Table episode. Her culinary style is not that far from Slowick's: A poem acts as her menu, and each course corresponds with a line in that poem.

A faint scent of longing and regret

"The Menu" is a satirical look at the culinary arts and celebrated chefs. The line cooks focus intently on each course, adding texture via smoke, algae, or foam to one dish while using tweezers to top another tiny creation with a single rose or edible flower. The haughty hostess will (really) kill you as easily as she looks at you. And the wine selection, according to the cheerily pouring, pompous sommelier, "has a faint scent of longing and regret."

While the food looks wonderful, each course is accompanied by a disturbing performance — one is more frightening than the last.

In the finale, Mylod has the camera pan way back to capture an aerial view of the tableau in all its originality, tragedy, comedy, and gastronomy. Even the doomed diners are part of the show — outfitted with chocolate caps and mini-marshmallow stoles. Meanwhile, the ill-fated, Kool-Aid-drinking staff is also dressed in white chef's coats, resembling giant marshmallows (or even oompa loompas), from above. Servers decorate the scene by sprinkling graham cracker crumbs, laying out long sticks with gigantic marshmallows, and painting the dining room's floor and its inhabitants, a la Jackson Pollock, with artistic flourishes of white and brown sauce and chocolate shavings — just before the island is set ablaze like a giant campfire.