Warning! This article contains major spoilers for The Menu
Chef Julian Slowik projects his anger and frustrations on his oblivious guests through his food in The Menu but makes a surprising exception when he lovingly serves a cheeseburger to Margot – here’s what the cheeseburger symbolizes. Each course in The Menu prepared by Slowik and his kitchen staff at Hawthorne removes the tapestry around the chef’s true motives. While the first three courses and their corresponding monologue evoke suspicion among the guests, the fourth instills panic and fear when a sous-chef shoots himself before the elite clientele. With what follows, Slowik wreaks havoc in Hawthorne by revealing his sinister murderous plan for the evening.
The guests in The Menu make many attempts to escape Hawthorne, and Margot even comes close when she contacts a police officer through a radio at Slowik’s house. Unfortunately, to their dismay, the police officer turns out to be just another staff member in Slowik’s kitchen. Just when it looks like all hope is lost for the guests, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot demands a cheeseburger, which is not even on the menu for the evening. To everyone’s surprise, Chef Julian complies with Margot’s request by preparing a cheeseburger for her and eagerly waiting for her feedback. Soon after, he also allows her to leave before burning the place down, indicating there is more to the burger than meets the eye.
The Cheeseburger’s Significance To Chef
When Margot breaks into Julian’s forbidden private room, she finds an Employee Of The Month award, which seems to be from his first job at Hamburger Howie’s. In the picture on the trophy, Julian is almost unrecognizable as he sports a pleasant smile and has the demeanor of cheerful, carefree man. The trophy becomes the final piece of the puzzle surrounding Slowik’s motives since it reveals that the chef had humble beginnings in the culinary world. Over time, Ralph Fiennes’ character in The Menu grew from strength to strength as a chef and eventually earned the opportunity to cook for the elites.
However, what started as a passion-fueled and satisfying pursuit of making burgers for customers at Hamburger Howie’s took a grim turn when he started catering to the rich. Slowik brings this to light in The Menu by exposing how his elite customers know nothing about food and are only at Hawthorne to boast about their social status. While Richard and his wife only eat there because they have nothing better to do with their money, Lilian gives mindless metaphors to her food but cares little about the livelihood of the workers in the industry.
Bryce and his finance buddies seem to know nothing about the culinary arts and yet have the audacity to threaten Slowik and his staff. John Leguizamo’s Movie Star, on the other hand, just becomes a frustrating reflection of Slowik’s inability to stay true to his art. And, worst of all, Tyler proves to be an egotistical social media foodie who belittles Chef’s food by calling out each ingredient without understanding the effort that goes behind its preparation. Margot eventually sees eye to eye with the chef and realizes that he yearns for the gratification of the early days of his cooking endeavors.
Towards the end of The Menu, she connects the dots and asks for a simple cheeseburger because she understands that it would remind Chef Slowik of the time when he genuinely enjoyed cooking. As anticipated, Slowik pours his heart and soul into preparing her a cheeseburger since he sees it as an opportunity to redeem himself and make up for all the passionless meals he made for the upper class. When Margot takes a bite and appreciates the burger, the chef finally feels proud and fulfilled because he understands that she is not like the others who only eat and compliment his food for the sake of it.
Why Chef Lets Margot Go After The Cheeseburger
By defying Julian and not consuming nearly every meal brought to her table in the first few courses, Margot (played by horror-staple Anya Taylor-Joy) establishes that she does not belong there. By demanding a cheeseburger with fries, she proves that her relationship with food comes with no shallow agendas, and she only craves a filling meal that satiates her hunger. This makes her stand out from the upper-class folks at Hawthorne and gives Chef Julian the satisfaction he longs for. As a result, Julian cannot help but treat Margot as a regular customer like the ones from his time at Hamburger Howie’s and allows her to leave when she asks if she can get the rest of her burger to go.
Parts of the reason Margot relates to Julian’s struggles towards The Menu‘s ending is that she, too, works in the service industry. Just like Julian, she seems to go through the motions of her job just because she is being paid for it but is not fulfilled. Similar to the chef, she also feels betrayed upon realizing that Tyler misused her escort service by not telling that she would die by accompanying him to Hawthorne. She and Julian become mere victims of the rich, who only take their services for granted and never give anything in return.
By asking for a cheeseburger, Margot rekindles herself with the give-and-take aspect of every service and helps Julian achieve the same. The Menu‘s final shot captures this by showing how Anya Taylor-Joy’s character savors every bite of the cheeseburger, while watching Hawthorne burn into ruins. Margot, like Julian, taps into a forgotten feeling of contentment in The Menu‘s closing scene, and the hamburger symbolizes that.
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