Popular movies and TV shows have inspired trends in everything from music to fashion; now, food can be added to that list. Chef Dennis Littley has taken a list of the most popular TV series in 2023 and paired each with one of his curated recipes.
Movie and TV fans have reported finding real-life inspiration after watching an influential film or TV show.
From The Brady Bunch‘s “pork chops and applesauce” to the Surfer Boy pizza featured in Stranger Things, popular television shows and movies have introduced iconic foods into pop culture. Taking those references out of the small screen and onto dinner plates was a logical progression for Chef Dennis Littley.
When asked if she had ever prepared a meal based on a popular film, travel expert and movie buff Chantile Ferriera responded, “I made chocolate frogs after seeing the Harry Potter series for the first time last year. My husband loved the show, and I wanted to add something special to our Halloween party. I bought a chocolate mold, made a recipe up, and we had fantastic peanut butter-filled chocolate frogs.”
The Last Of Us
This dystopian drama from HBO follows the story of Joel Miller (played by Pedro Pascal), a hardened survivor of a society-destroying fungal infestation. Miller is compelled to escort a young girl named Tess (Bella Ramsey) across an infected no man's land. The pair faces numerous challenges as they trek across the ruins of the former United States.
Chef Dennis says, “When food is hard to come by, soup is always a way to make ingredients stretch, and my hearty hamburger soup is a great example.”
The hearty beef broth-based soup features ground beef, pasta, green peas, diced carrots, and onions. Most of the ingredients are inexpensive staple items found in most home pantries.
The dramedy Beef involves Danny and Amy (Steven Leung, Ali Wong), two Asian Americans who experience road rage following an incident in a parking lot. The ensuing hostilities between them threaten to take over both of their lives, along with the lives of those around them.
Chef Dennis offers this take: “You won't have a beef with anyone after sharing a bowl of this delicious beef stew.”
The stew Littley selected is a traditional Killarney Guinness beef stew featuring thick chunks of chuck roast mixed with root vegetables and mushrooms. Adding Guinness stout beer to the sauce gives it a distinct and bold flavor.
The Night Agent
A low-level FBI agent (Gabriel Basso), assigned to an overnight shift in a basement call center, suddenly finds himself caught up in an international conspiracy when the phone actually rings. The show follows his attempts to save himself and others from a complex, treacherous spy game.
Chef Dennis observes, “Working the night shift is never easy, and packing your lunch is pretty much mandatory. My Chicken Salad will make the shift more bearable.”
The chicken salad's essential ingredient list of shredded chicken, mayonnaise, chopped celery, salt, pepper, and granulated onion is straightforward and comforting.
Based on the novel Wool by Hugh Howey, Silo is set in a dystopian world where humans have taken refuge in a massive self-sufficient complex underground. An engineer named Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson) investigates the death of a co-worker, only to discover much darker secrets about the project itself.
Chef Dennis says, “Living in a silo for generations means you'll be eating a lot of vegetables, and one of my favorite vegetable dishes is ratatouille.”
Littley's recipe is a very traditional vegetable-based French Ratatouille, with a blend of eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and peppers prepared in an aromatic broth base.
This India-based series follows the lives of Arushi and Sandeep (Deepali Gautam, Sunny Hinduja), a tiffin service worker and a failed civil servant, as they inspire each other to move forward towards their personal and professional goals.
Chef Dennis took full advantage of the show's Indian setting. “My Chicken Tikka Masala is the perfect dish to enjoy while watching this show.”
Traditional chicken tikka marsala calls for chunks of fresh chicken to be marinated in a spicy yogurt, then sauteed in a creamy tomato sauce with a wide variety of spices commonly used in Indian cooking.
Based on an anime series, One Piece takes place in an alternative Earth where pirate culture is predominant. A young, ambitious sailor named Monkey D. Luffy (Inaki Godoy) uses his newly acquired magical powers and a pirate crew to search for the mythical land called One Piece.
Chef Dennis paired another chicken dish with this adventurous series. “When you serve my crispy chicken tenders, you won't be satisfied with just one piece.”
Littley uses chicken tenderloins marinated in buttermilk as the basis for this popular snack food.
In this dramedy, Jason Segel plays Jimmy, a professional therapist mishandling his own grief following the death of his wife. Jimmy decides to take an entirely new approach with his clients, employing brutal honesty and harsh criticism instead of standard psychotherapy practices. The process actually gets positive results.
Chef Dennis wryly noted, “The people in this show may be shrinking, but I can guarantee my chicken parm won't be shrinking with them.”
A popular dish in Italian restaurants, Littley's recipe uses the traditional breaded chicken cutlets, tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese to create a similar experience for home dining.
A seemingly underqualified career diplomat (Keri Russell) receives an unexpected promotion during a turbulent international political crisis. Her efforts to perform her overwhelming job duties lead to personal and professional troubles off the clock.
Chef Dennis says, “The secret to being a successful diplomat is to serve my classic Tiramisu. You'll agree to anything after one bite.”
The addition of espresso and chocolate liqueur gives Littley's interpretation of a classic Italian dessert its distinctive and bold flavor. Soft mascarpone cheese adds the proper creamy texture and mouthfeel.
Presented in real-time, Hijack follows a business negotiator (Idris Elba) as he attempts to negotiate with terrorists who have hijacked a seven-hour flight from Dubai to London. The drama intensifies as efforts to defuse the situation play out on the ground and in the air.
Chef Dennis paired this complex storyline with an equally complex chicken dish. “This is when you wish you were on an Italian airline so they could serve you chicken caciatore.”
Traditional chicken caciatore is a hearty and flavorful combination of chicken pieces and vegetables such as olives, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery. A long simmer allows all of the flavors to marry.
An Indian sanitation worker named Vasant Gawde (Bhuvan Bam) acquires magical powers, which compel him to use those powers to improve the world around him. This Indian dramedy uses magical realism to create a relatable but alternative universe for viewers.
Chef Dennis has an equally magical opinion.” You won't need magical powers to make my Garlic Butter Shrimp, but you'll certainly feel like you've got superpowers after tasting it!”
The succulent whole shrimp are bathed in a garlic butter sauce that infuses flavor in every piece.
All of these recipes are available on Chef Dennis Littley's website Ask Chef Dennis.