We’d Brave a Terrifying Tasting Menu to Eat at the Gorgeous Restaurant in ‘The Menu’

by 24britishtvNov. 18, 2022, 11 p.m. 12
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The food industry is absolutely skewered in The Menu, the new thriller from Succession director Mark Mylod. The film sets its sights on the world of fine dining by focusing on a destination restaurant somewhere in the Pacific Northwest that becomes the site of satirical horrors. The island-bound establishment called Hawthorn is so integral to the story that production designer Ethan Tobman designed and built it almost in its entirety in Savannah, Georgia. The majority of the film’s action, which follows a group of diners as they indulge in an increasingly chaotic tasting menu from Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), takes place within the walls of the dining room and kitchen.

“I always joke about this because it was similar to when I designed the movie Room, which has such an iconic, singular set that you’re stuck inside,” Tobman tells AD. “It’s similar in some narrative ways to The Menu.” The script gave only one sentence of direction for how the restaurant should look: austere, vaguely Scandinavian, cold. “I immediately had some ideas for how I wanted to design it. I walked into the first meeting with maybe 15 reference photos and they all ended up in the movie.”

Those reference photos included paintings by Francis Bacon and John Currin, which are “studies in grotesquery, excess, and worship,” as well as images from episodes of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. Once Tobman realized that most restaurants are relatively bland in style, and that the interior design comes second to the food, he began expanding his references. He looked at synagogues and churches, particularly the modern ones from ’60s brutalism, and even incorporated a cross into the architecture of the kitchen’s back wall to amplify the feeling that Slowik is being deified. The chef’s aloof, arrogant persona is apparent in all of the design, which is relatively stark.

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