Directed by Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, “Hunger” is a Netflix Thai drama film that talks about the societal divide, the desire for wealth and status, and personal egos, all through the basic theme of food and culinary elitism. It follows a young chef, Aoy, who works at her small family restaurant serving noodles to the common masses, when she receives the opportunity to join a renowned culinary team called Hunger. While “Hunger” is definitely not as refined or flashy as the other similar-themed films of recent times, there is surely enough local charm and aesthetic value to make it a distinguished and entertaining work.
‘Hunger’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Despite being a young woman only a few years out of college, the fact that Aoy is the eldest of her siblings makes her heavily involved in the family business. Together with her father, Aoy runs their small family restaurant, Shuyou, serving street-style items like Pad See Ew and Rad Na. Mostly owing to the father’s age, it is Aoy who cooks all the food single-handedly, and the crowd of customers at the place does suggest her culinary skill. On a regular morning, as Aoy is busy preparing meals, a customer walks up to her counter and offers her his visiting card, asking her to visit a business called Hunger if she wants to make it big. Aoy is not interested at first, as she has no idea about this business, but when she tells her friends about this incident later, the chef sees a real opportunity in it. Hunger, after all, is a team founded and headed by an illustrious and renowned culinary practitioner known as Chef Paul. Following the details on the card that she had been given, Aoy learns more about Hunger and also realizes that the man who had approached her is a sous-chef, Tone. Already quite interested, Aoy decides to give the place a try the next day when she sees Tone waiting in front of her restaurant.
Aoy’s first few minutes at Hunger are confusing for her because of the environment that she is not really used to. While the facility is designed with top-notch modern cooking equipment, the star of the show, Chef Paul, is rather demeaning and disrespectful in his treatment towards his sous-chefs and helpers. It gradually becomes clear that Chef Paul and his team are hired by the richest and most elite clientele in the country for their personal events, and the team prepares specialized meals based on the occasion. Although Aoy has to show her skills by making fried rice against another competing sous-chef, Chef Paul dismisses the other contender because of his overly complicated recipe and serving style. Within this very short time, Aoy is selected to be the newest member of Hunger, but she is still unaware of the many twists and turns she will soon go through.
How Does Aoy’s First Assignment For Hunger Go?
After being selected into the team, Aoy’s first role is as the fry chef, and soon Chef Paul explains their next appointment, which is a private birthday party. The birthday happens to be of an esteemed politician and army veteran of the country, and so all his guests are elite businessmen and politicians. Aoy’s task here is to slice up pieces from a chunk of Wagyu A5 beef, which is the costliest and most exquisite meat available, and then also to fry them appropriately. It is very evident and quite expected that Aoy has never worked with Wagyu A5 before, so she has to learn both the slicing process and the frying from the mentor. Like before, Chef Paul is extremely harsh and demeaning in his behavior, making Aoy cry out of embarrassment as well. However, when Aoy had earlier told Chef Paul that she wanted to join Hunger because she wanted to be someone special, the woman had not been exaggerating. This is clear in the way she pushes herself to learn the correct proportion of oil to use to fry the beef and the proper technique to maintain the taste and texture of the meat intact. Aoy practices all of this throughout the entire night, spending almost an entire day at the Hunger facility, and finally reaches perfection. Confident in her skills, she has a great start to life at Hunger, as her work is praised at the birthday party, and she is even approached by a famous restaurateur named Tos. Tone had earlier mentioned to Aoy how Tos had wanted to sponsor Chef Paul as well, but the latter had refused to work with any promoter, so Aoy also did not pay much heed to Tos at the time.
“Hunger” has a particular reason for choosing the guests and the types of food that are served at their parties, as a large part of the film’s commentaries on society are presented in this manner. In the very first party, the private birthday celebration of an esteemed politician, the theme of the food happens to be “Flesh and Blood.” Chef Paul and his team, therefore, prepare the food with intense colors, and the dining scene does make it seem like the politicians and businessmen are feasting on raw flesh and blood, making them appear grotesque and vile. Similarly, at the next party of some ludicrously rich cryptocurrency investors, the theme of the food is all golden, as if the guests are hungry to feast on gold itself. This matches well with the overall theme of unlimited alcohol and sexual frivolity that abound at the party. While these elements do make “Hunger” seem a bit coarse, such techniques can be enjoyable with selective viewers as well.
How Does The Hunger Team Get Involved In A Case Of Gruesome Death?
The very next job that Chef Paul takes on for the Hunger team appears rather suspicious from the very beginning, for it is not any party that they have to serve at but just a normal family dinner. The job takes place at a small, unassuming residential apartment, too, one that does not really seem like the home of anyone who can afford Chef Paul’s exorbitant price. Aoy seems intrigued by the matter too, but she is unable to find out anything more about the client and instead just keeps doing her job. The family that they serve consists of a middle-aged man, his wife, and their young daughter. The entire menu seems to be designed around items that the little girl likes, and the fact that the mother keeps crying for most of these scenes makes it all the more clear that something suspicious is in the works. Soon there is a major ruckus in the kitchen when the soup that is prepared by the team is suddenly thrown away by Chef Paul. The man then hastily prepares a makeshift soup with readymade powder mixes, and that very food is served to the family, who have it with enjoyment. Chef Paul later reveals that the soup that the team had prepared had shrimps in it, and the little girl was allergic to shrimps, meaning that having the soup could have killed her.
However, only sometime later, Aoy watches a report on the news that talks about a gruesome death scene, and it happens to be the death of that very family of three. The man, a business owner and luxury real estate developer had collected huge debts in his name and was being searched for by the lenders. Because of this, he had moved away from his usual luxury home to this small apartment along with his wife and daughter and had planned to commit suicide. But before this ultimate end, he had hired Chef Paul to cook them one last meal that would give them all the culinary satisfaction in the world. Following this dinner, the man shot dead his wife and daughter before killing himself as well. This incident made it clear to Aoy how the names of Chef Paul and Hunger had become synonymous with ultimate satisfaction and a stamp of wealth. However, Aoy is also unable to get over the fact that Chef Paul had actually fed them just readymade soup recipes as part of the family’s last meal.
What Led To Chef Paul’s Downfall?
When Chef Paul insults his soup chef over the mixing of shrimp in the soup that had been prepared for the family, the disgruntled soup chef stabs the mentor with a knife. Following this incident, Chef Paul has to be admitted to a hospital, and during this time, Aoy visits him with her homemade noodles. It is now that the mentor tells Aoy about how he had decided to become a chef and what his real ambition in life is. As a young boy, Chef Paul used to regularly visit a rich household where his mother used to work as a maid. At this place, the boy was fascinated with caviar, which was such an expensive and restricted item for the consumption of only the super-rich. One day, he tried stealing a taste of the caviar but was caught in the act and accidentally dropped the whole jar on the floor. While his mother was brutally insulted by the owners for this incident, Chef Paul was made to clean the floor, during which time he actually took a taste of the item. Chef Paul remembered how ordinary and normal caviar tasted, and he had since then realized that luxury food is only a lavish habit of the rich to show off their wealth and status. Ever since then, he had decided to become a chef so celebrated and elusive that the rich would have to pay ludicrous amounts to afford his food.
Although Chef Paul had started as a sort of secret Robin Hood, taking exorbitant amounts of money from the super-rich and supporting poor fishermen and suppliers with it, the man had himself turned into an arrogant individual himself. Chef Paul’s downfall occurs because of his blind belief that he can get away with anything because of his fame and popularity. During their next appointment, he and the Hunger team go deep into a Thai forest to serve a rich politician who is involved in the gravely illegal act of poaching. The politician shoots a hornbill as part of his hunt, and Chef Paul then cooks its meat for them, with both sides knowing that the hornbill is a critically endangered bird species. While Aoy decides not to be associated with the team and the chef from here on, the rest of the team stays on and carries out the appointment.
Aoy now gets in touch with the restaurateur, Tos, and soon she is appointed as the head chef at his new restaurant, Flame. She now makes quite a name for herself and is then offered a hefty fee to work at a gala party hosted by a celebrity. Encouraged by Tos, Aoy agrees to this appointment but then also finds out that Chef Paul has also been hired to cook or perform at the party. As the two celebrated chefs embroiled in a sort of cook-off challenge, the police arrive at the scene and arrest Chef Paul. This happens because the sous chef at Hunger, Tone, had actually secretly taken a video of Chef Paul cooking the hornbill. Now that Tone was no longer a part of the team, he had made a secret pact with Tos to bring Chef Paul down. He had agreed to leak the video in public and also to the police, and it was all orchestrated by Tos to happen during this gala party. Tos had categorically selected Aoy to be present at the party, believing she would also want to witness the downfall of Chef Paul. As the celebrated chef is dragged away by the police, with him still claiming that he would get away with the matter, Tos presents his next plans for Aoy. He now wants to promote Aoy even more and make her the next big chef, taking the place of Chef Paul.
‘Hunger’ Ending Explained: What Does Aoy Finally Decide?
Aoy listens to the offer but then decides to head home. Although her father had gotten sick sometime earlier and the family restaurant was almost on the brink of shutting down, Aoy had not visited her house in days. It is suggested that she had not been in touch with any of her family members either. A possible reason for this was that her tastes and opinions about serving food had greatly changed ever since she started working at Hunger. Her father, brother, and sister, on the other hand, preferred to stick to the ways they knew and were comfortable with. Aoy had even invited them for dinner at the Flame restaurant, but that, too, could not be managed.
After the events at the gala party, Aoy starts to realize that the pretensions and showboating nature of the rich with regard to food, which Chef Paul had told her about, were slowly starting to creep into her as well. The woman now decides not to follow the path shown by her mentor and declines Tos’ offer to become the next celebrity chef. Instead, Aoy returns home to reunite with her family and restart the family restaurant. “Hunger” ends with an almost triumphant scene in which Aoy starts up the fire in her kitchen and readies the wok. Now leading the business with her own menu and with the popularity that she has already gained, Aoy is sure to take Shuyou to new heights of success.