kitchenReal recipes from Hayao Miyazaki’s movies
Chef and pop culture expert, Thibaud Villanova uses his two hats to reinvent dishes from the most cult films, series and manga. An interview with an enthusiast.
If you’re a fan of cooking or popular culture – and a fortiori for both – it’s hard to miss this phenomenon. Since 2014, Chef Tibod Vilanova has drawn inspiration from the most-loved movies, TV series, and manga to bring to life dishes that are glimpsed in the curve of a plan, or in the space of a drawn box, like a molasses tart in “Harry Potter”, Asakusa noodles from “Demon Slayer” or even Blue milk from “Star Wars”, Luke Skywalker’s favorite drink. He reviewed some on his YouTube and Twitch channels, but above all created the Gastronogeek Collection (published by Hachette Heroes), recipe books that explore the culinary worlds of Dragonball, Asterix and Obelix, Assassin’s Creed, or Disney movies.
A little more than two months ago, he published “The Kitchen in Ghibli”, a wonderful meal-inspired work in popular Japanese studio animation films, particularly those of Hayao Miyazaki, and has already released his new baby. Anime: 40 recipes from the most famous anime, “Naruto”, “One Piece” and “Attack on Titan”. We grilled the chef.
You explained in the introduction to “The Kitchen in Ghibli” that you worked on this book for 10 years. why all this time?
Because I didn’t dare attack him head on. It’s one of the first books I wanted to do at the beginning of the group, but I always told myself that I had to become a really good cook before dealing with this subject. For some licenses, like Dragon Ball, Star Wars or Disney, which I have a certain proficiency to point to, I didn’t feel the limitation in terms of cooking. But with Ghibli, it took me years, especially to immerse myself in Japanese cuisine and understand the philosophy behind each preparation. I went there to taste it, read a lot of books, followed master classes …
What’s interesting is that sometimes you take the liberty with the movies, like “Souvenirs Goutte à Goutte” where you serve a cooked version of pineapple while it’s eaten plain in the movie…
My job, first and foremost, is to associate television, literary or film reference with cooking. To somehow tell the reader: “Do you remember, at such a moment in the movie, such a character eats such a dish …”. Then, with my wife, Berenger DeMuncey, who is interested in all the graphic aspects of books, we try through the decor to find the atmosphere of the scene as much as possible and bring the reader some immersion. In the case of “drip memories”, it is clear that I will not only explain how to cut an ordinary pineapple. But I totally wanted to tackle the movie, especially since the pineapple sight is important. As a result, the idea here was above all to remind readers of its existence and to present a recipe inspired by the flavors of Japan by doing the fruit in a different way.
How did you come to cook?
In my family, everyone is in the kitchen. My grandmother was a cook by trade, my father was a baker, and my cousins were butchers in Spain…I’ve always been sucked into this. I’ve actually worked in pop culture, sometimes in board games, sometimes video games, and at one point I was the deputy manager of a Paris bar dedicated to fantasy cultures, but it didn’t make a very advanced card in the field. That’s when I came up with the idea of extending customer immersion across the kitchen. C’est à ce moment que des émissions comme «Top Chef» se sont développées mais personne ne parlait de cuisine imaginaire, celle des banquets d’«Harry Potter», des plats elfiques du «Seigneur des anneaux», ou des pizzas de « Back to the future.” I just got into it and it was really fun.
Of all that I’ve created, is there one that is distinct and more famous than the others?
A few years ago, when I had only written 3 or 4 books, Butterbeer from “Harry Potter” or Lembas from “Lord of the Rings” appeared a lot. Today, after 18 pounds, it’s hard to get one. But in one dedicated to Ghibli, ramen “Ponyo” is very popular.
You have official books – Star Wars, Dragon Ball, Asterix, Obelix – and others that don’t. Are they made differently?
Not right. Only the official books deal with the license in question, while in the other books, we will deal with a topic through various references. But my business is still the same. In the context of licensing, it is probably more difficult because you have to gain the trust of the rights holders, ask them to validate the images and text, explain to them why this recipe was chosen, why this ingredient.. but anyway, it’s a question I ask myself for all my recipes.
This to say? How do you do it?
Take the cherry pie from Twin Peaks, which is not licensed. In the series, Agent Cooper can’t stop eating this kind of pancake. But since he’s also crazy about coffee, I wanted to find a way to combine the two elements. So I went with bitter cocoa, which goes perfectly with candied cherries and whole coffee. In the recipe, I add to this a grated amount of cocoa on the confit of the cherries before closing the pie dough, which I glazed with eggs, since I previously diluted some strong coffee. gives it a special color; The aftertaste reveals the sweetness of the coffee. Thus we associate the figure at the bottom with Cherry Pie, two iconic elements of the series. And for licenses, the same. In the Disney book, I have the recipe for La Crème de la Crème à la Edgar, from The Aristocats. Edgar, being the butler who snatches cats by putting them to sleep thanks to a vanilla cream sedated with sleeping pills. In the movie, the scene in which he prepares is well described: he uses vanilla, the cream is white, thickens, and he cooks it over low heat… From there, I have enough information to create a recipe. The license only allows you to specify that the creator validate you.
Have you ever been denied some licenses?
Sometimes, like “Harry Potter”. It’s been 6 years since I submitted a project to them every year, they always refused and now they just published their project this year. But I’m lucky to have it posted by Hachette, who already owns the Star Wars, Disney and Marvel licenses. They have the means and are not afraid to knock on the doors of large groups.
However, there are Harry Potter recipes in some of your books…
Of course, but everything complies with the license. I don’t use the Harry Potter name, I don’t use an official logo, I’m quoting the rights holder … I can’t, for example, dedicate an entire book to this saga. The reference should be eased in the middle of a whole bunch of others.
You have sometimes been accused of changing a simple ingredient to make your own recipe.. what do you say about that?
You should already know what defines a recipe. In France, this is something that cannot be offered. Know-how is being able to list, write down, modify, and change that recipe. In fact, when I’m working on an omelet with reference to “Daredevil,” and in particular this episode that begins with a scene where Caïd makes an omelet with chives, how do you expect me to reinvent the dish? In such cases, I’m talking about revisiting or reformulating recipes, because some dishes – so simple – don’t ask to be changed. That is why I do not respond to these attacks. So, sometimes, I’ll just add a touch of a pepper mill…but what makes the difference is the way I describe the different steps, particularly rolling the omelette and leading the reader to find even their plate as in the chain.
How did the design of a book, like that dedicated to Gebli for example, develop? Begin by reviewing all the studio films?
exactly. I always go back to the origins. I review everything to immerse myself in different aspects of the business, frame frozen dishes on the dishes on offer, and then start writing my recipes. Then I test them several times. Hence the question is to find different things capable of sticking to this universe for the sake of images: crockery, pots…
Have you had the chance to taste your recipes by someone involved in your series, movies or manga?
Yes it happened. In particular with Anthony Daniels, C3PO’s translator on “Star Wars.” He’s come to Paris for a conference, and since I’ve already been cooking for celebrities at events, I’ve had the privilege of being his private chef for a few days. That was the year I released my Star Wars book, so I made some of my recipes for it. He was very happy. I also had the opportunity to be the captain of Giancarlo Esposito, Gus Fring in “Breaking Bad”. So I wasn’t able to make it my own French Pollos Hermanos, fried chicken from his chain restaurants, which I covered in my book “Cult Series,” but I showed him the latter. A few months later, he sent me a photo of himself eating the polo he had cooked according to my recipe, with a note saying: “Excellent. Thanks!”