Thomas Keller of The French Laundry fame has obviously developed a taste for working with Hollywood since he taught Adam Sandler how to make a sandwich for Spanglish, Keller’s variation on the BLT with the addition of a fried egg and cheese was arguably the best thing by a long way in the 2004 rom-com.
But with Ratatouille, which has taken an estimated $188 million in the States so far and opens here in October, Keller has given his culinary expertise to an altogether (financially at any rate) much more successful production, albeit one that features a computer generated, gastronomically gifted rat called Rémy who cooks in a grand Parisian restaurant called Gusteau's, a composite creation based on Guy Savoy, Le Train Bleu and Taillevent.
Keller let Pixar’s animators (the team behind Toy Story, The Incredibles etc) into his Yountville kitchen and inspired the elaborate layered version of the title dish for the Disney cartoon’s climatic scene, which is presented to a restaurant critic by the name of Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O'Toole) as "Confit byaldi" after "Confit Bayaldi" - Michel Guérard's 1976 take on Ratatouille, itself named after the Turkish dish Iman Bayaldi - which apparently translates as 'the Iman swoons'.
In return, aside from the no doubt generous consultancy fee, Keller got to do the voice for a dining room punter in the film. The French version meanwhile has Guy Savoy voicing the same part and the Spanish, Ferran Adrià. No British voiced version planned, such sadness.
Though no doubt our leading chefs have way too much integrity to take rat Disney's cash. Course they do. But wonder which of our fine cheffing talents they would have called on first if they had needed a chef to voice a cartoon character?