Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Menu!What happened to Chef Slowik, Tyler, and Margot at the end of The Menu became one of the biggest talking points among movie fans in 2022 — and The Menu ending explained with all the themes laid bare makes it obvious why. Directed by Mark Mylod from a screenplay by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, The Menu is a dark comedy that follows celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) as he puts his affluent restaurant guests through a dining experience like no other — but not for the reasons those paying $1,250-per-head to eat at Hawthorn expect. Once the 11 guests, including Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), disembark from the chartered ferry, things start going awry. Tyler’s tense conversation with the sous chef gives audiences an early clue that everything is not as it seems, and Slowik’s dinner guests soon discover he may have invited them for something far more sinister than gourmet cuisine.
The Menu‘s cast features an incredibly solid lineup including Ralph Fiennes, Anya-Taylor Joy, and Nicholas Hoult. While its climax feels a little ambiguous, The Menu ending explained the movie’s core themes well. At the end of The Menu Chef Slowik, along with what remains of his staff, burns down Hawthorn with all the guests — save for Margot — still inside. Margot escapes, watching as Hawthorn goes up in flames with Tyler and the other guests trapped within — punished for their excessive wealth and self-indulgence by Slowik. The spectacle of the scene is a talking point in and of itself, but it’s the mystery and deep social commentary which made The Menu ending so inspired. It’s a dark finale to a film that grows increasingly violent throughout while maintaining its bleak comedic tone, and The Menu’s story has plenty of layers ready to be peeled back and explored.
Slowik’s Plan In The Menu: Why The Chef Wanted To Kill Everybody
The Menu ending explained that Chef Slowik’s plans for the evening, which he slowly revealed after each course, were sinister but not without purpose. The violence, murder, and burning down of Hawthorn weren’t random or sadistic. Chef Slowik is punishing Hawthorn’s guests because they are the cause of the fine dining industry’s pretentiousness and elitism — both of which eroded his joy for cooking over the course of his career. The guests’ wealth has pushed the food industry forward, but it has also made the dining experience costly, widening the gap between socioeconomic classes and sucking the life and pleasure out of the tasting experience. Chef Slowik feels a shadow of his former self, and his resentment of the gluttonous elites who use landing a table at the Hawthorn as a show of status became so overpowering he had to act.
Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) wanted to make his guests, all used to wealth allowing them to live free from consequence, feel embarrassed and affronted by the time the ending of The Menu — and its fatal final course — rolled around. Slowik’s clientele are shallow, self-serving, and disconnected from the authentic human experience — something he seeks to remedy. The celebrity chef made his guests experience what it was like to feel helpless at someone else’s mercy. He wanted them to taste true powerlessness before they died. The fact their consumerist elitism was also responsible for the art being lost from cooking in Slowik’s eyes only fueled his rage, and by the end of The Menu, he’d had plenty of opportunities to act on the decades of repressed hatred.
Throughout The Menu, Chef Julian Slowik is perplexed by Margot’s presence. As the film unfolds, audiences learn that Chef Slowik has a very particular plan, and Margot is simply not meant to be a part of it. Margot (Anya-Taylor Joy) is not wealthy or pretentious, nor does she see his cuisine as anything but food rather than an experience. Chef Slowik finds in her a kindred spirit of sorts, someone who understands what it’s like to grow up with very little, but has gamed the system in some way to get ahead. The Menu ending explained that Chef Slowik wants to punish the elite, but not Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), who has not harmed anyone or an entire industry.
Chef Slowik is renowned for the exquisitely detailed menus of the Hawthorn, creating elite dining experiences costing thousands. However, Margot is unimpressed with his food and its presentation, not understanding what the big deal is. Margot challenging Chef Slowik to make a delicious hamburger catches him off guard, but it’s this very request — and Margot’s approval of the meal — that are why Margot is allowed to leave, as she reminds him of his roots and the joy of eating a well-prepared meal. The fact that Margot is not pompous about the hamburger suggests she understands the experience of mindfully tasting food more than any of Chef Slowik’s pretentious guests pretend to, and since she holds none of the wealth or pomposity he’s grown so resentful of, he’s okay with letting her leave so that she may live
The Menu ending explained just how much of a fraud Tyler really was. Throughout the night, Tyler is constantly trying to prove himself to Chef Slowik by namedropping different products and methods the Chef uses to create his signature dishes. Slowik does him one better by inviting Tyler into the kitchen, even giving him a chef’s coat, and demanding that Tyler cook for his guests. What happens to Tyler is that he haphazardly creates an undercooked lamb, humiliating himself in front of his hero and all of Slowik’s guests. Chef Slowik then whispers something into Tyler’s ear, to which Tyler replies “yes, Chef,” before excusing himself. Before long it’s revealed that, whatever Chef Slowik whispered, it caused Tyler to hang himself with his own necktie.
While it’s never fully revealed what Chef said to Tyler’s The Menu, it was probably something along the lines of “kill yourself.” One of the biggest twists of the evening is that Tyler was aware of Slowik’s plan but attended the dinner anyway, bringing Margot along despite knowing that everyone would die. Tyler had already chosen his death, he just expired sooner than expected. Bringing Margot along without any regard for her life reveals his disdain toward the lower class and service workers. Tyler spent his entire life idolizing Slowik, only for his hero to despise him and prove in front of an audience that he’s a fraud. Tyler was already prepared to die for the Chef, and after such humiliation, his suicide was most likely a sycophantic attempt to prove his dedication and redeem himself.
According to Nicholas Hoult, what Slowik whispers was never in the script. The actor explained, “No, no, it wasn’t scripted what he whispers in my ear. And Ralph is fantastic… And he would deliver different things… different things in my ear… You don’t want to know what he was saying.” That perfectly speaks to what makes the whisper so significant. Though audiences can deduce what Chef Slowik said to Tyler in The Menu, the whisper keeps Slowik’s expert manipulation tactics a mystery, and it shows how much power Slowik has over his guests while making audiences imagine the worst possible dialogue.
As the guests slowly begin to realize that there is no escape in store for them after the ferry operator turns out to be a plant by Slowik, Margot tries to plot her own escape. She strides to the kitchen, telling Slowik that she doesn’t like his food and that she’s still hungry. Slowik asks what she wants, and Margot, recalling the picture she saw in his cabin, asks for a cheeseburger with fries. Slowik tenderly makes this meal for her, and when she asks for it to go, he gives her a doggy bag, and she escapes via the ferry. The final shot sees Margot on the ferry, eating her cheeseburger while Hawthorn burns to the ground. Several theories have emerged about what the cheeseburger in The Menu represented. One of them is that the burgers are made from human meat (probably Tyler and the sous chef). Another is that the cheeseburger in The Menu is poisoned, which would explain why Margot was allowed to leave as Slowik expected her to die anyway.
However, The Menu ending explained that the cheeseburger is more symbolic than anything. The cheeseburger in The Menu represents where celebrity Chef Julian Slowik got his start as a cook, and where his love of cooking began. Margot realizes this after he mentions to her that he finds no joy in his art anymore, and she asks for the cheeseburger at the end of The Menu in a last-ditch effort to reignite some sort of spark for the chef. Thankfully for Margot, this works. Chef Slowik sees she is different from his other guests and allows her to leave. Slowik’s passion for food began when he was a line cook, as evidenced by the picture in his cabin, and he found his joy in making simple albeit delicious food. Margot’s simple request for a cheeseburger in The Menu rekindled some of Slowik’s love for his craft after years of serving patrons like Hawthorn’s doomed guests eroded it.
Why The Other Guests Never Properly Tried To Escape From Chef Slowik
One lingering criticism of The Menu ending is that the guests put very little effort into self-preservation. As many viewers have noted, their fate may not have been inevitable if they’d all resisted. This, however, is where The Menu ending has another layer of complexity, and this “critique” is actually just pointing out another strength of the plot. Chef Slowik gives the guests in The Menu the opportunity to leave Hawthorn and the remote island, but the guests don’t seem to try that hard — which is exactly why they were hand-selected for the evening and sent invitations.
Slowik knew exactly what made them tick and how they would react, and foresaw that they’d make likely make no real attempt to leave. However, as a failsafe, the celebrity chef also ensured that he had blackmail material. Why the guests don’t try harder to survive in The Menu is one of the few plot points detractors of the movie can point to as a flaw, but in reality their response holds up when examined in more detail. The guests still felt stuck because Slowik had information on them that they didn’t want to be made public. Most of these secrets were revealed in the taco course, which saw individual etchings on the tortillas displaying his guests’ secretive doings.
For example, Lillian’s writings as a food critic had closed down numerous restaurants, and Richard was a serial adulterer. Bryce, Dave, and Soren were embezzling money — and George’s taco etching was a movie poster of a flop film he did simply for the money. The guests in The Menu don’t have the same level or emotinal rationale or reasoning as viewers. The guests at the Hawthorn are all terrible, self-serving people to the point of having serious psychological issues. The average viewer would of course try to escape the Hawthorn, but Chef Slowik’s carefully selected guests in The Menu aren’t the average viewer.
With every course in The Menu dripping with meaning, Chef Slowik knew that his guests’ reputation and pride took precedence over their survival instincts. The Menu ending explained that money talked above all else, and The Menu’s guests would rather face death than deal with the consequences of Chef Slowik releasing certain information. Despite the men getting a 45-second head start, they didn’t try all that hard to escape, being found easily by Slowik’s staff. The women, on the other hand, didn’t even try to escape at all. Rather, they went back inside Hawthorne’s dining hall and talked among themselves, ultimately accepting their fate.
The Menu ending explained that Chef Slowik’s staff went along with his devious plan for one reason only: devotion. This devotion towards The Menu‘s villain is primarily shown through Elsa and Slowik’s sous chef. The sous chef is the first death of the evening, shooting himself in the head when Slowik affirms that his dish is good, but not good enough. Elsa truly shows how invested she is when she tries to kill Margot because Slowik asked Margot to find the barrel for the dessert course, rather than her.
Throughout the entire evening, the staff’s undying devotion to their leader is abundantly clear. Every demand is met with a uniform “yes, Chef!”, and their almost militaristic work ethic sees them as a conglomerate force, rather than individual people. For whatever individualistic reasons, Chef Slowik has found a ride-or-die staff that is devoted to his overall vision, no matter the cost. This is also a commentary on the dehumanizing element of working in catering and fine-dining. The subtext is that devotion to the Hawthorn and its clientele has had a similar impact on the staff as it has on Slowik, although unlike their murderous-yet-autonomous leader, the staff have instead become almost-mindless shells, existing only to follow orders and serve the delivery of the evening’s menu, even if it’s a lethal mealplan that ends in their deaths.
Margot’s True Identity: Why She Hides Her Real Name & How She Knows Richard
Anya-Taylor Joy’s The Menu character Margot, like everyone in the film, isn’t who she says she is. However, it isn’t until Chef Slowik takes notice of her that it’s revealed something is amiss about her backstory. Margot is actually a sex worker whose real name is Erin. It’s established Erin has well-paying clientele because Richard, who frequents Hawthorn with his wife, has hired Margot before. Margot’s work is intriguing to Chef Slowik, and he believes they, unlike the other guests in The Menu, understand each other in a way no one else does or can. Margot is not a rich snob, but is someone who is burdened by the wealthy, like Tyler, while profiting from them at the same time.
The final course at the end of The Menu is an elevated s’mores dish. After the staff covers the floor in crushed graham crackers and various sauces, the guests are made to don a sort of cowl made of marshmallows and hats made of chocolate. The Menu ending explained that Slowik chose this particular dish because it is an odd mixture of flavors that is only made perfect because of fire. After this explanation, the entire restaurant is set alight, and the guests burn alive, fulfilling Slowik’s wishes. The s’mores are another callback to the celebrity chef’s humble beginnings, but the true meaning found in his speech is that they are perfected by fire, bringing his murderous plan full circle as he sets his guests alight.
Both The Menu and its real-life inspiration are examinations of exorbitant consumer culture, of foodies, and the superficiality of the wealthy who believe they’re giving to the fine dining experience when they’re really leeching from it. The film has a lot to say about the origins of the food Chef Slowik’s guests enjoy — from the working class and poor primarily — and how that very food, when overly commercialized and treated as an “experience” for the rich, becomes less creative and enjoyable over time. An example of this is Chef Slowik’s passion for creating meals fading because his guests don’t truly taste the food, so obsessed with the details of the meal than in the pleasure it provides.
The Menu is also a commentary on the class divide and how the rich gentrify experiences — such as fine dining — and make them entirely inaccessible to all but the elite for no reason other than to be socially exclusive. This is shown in Tyler’s obsession with Chef Slowik’s use of ingredients — Tyler doesn’t much care about the food itself, he cares that he can use it to feel superior to everyone he believes won’t appreciate Slowik’s work, such as Margot. This snobbery, and Tyler’s eagerness to indulge it, ultimately seals his fate in The Menu ending, but the fact the guests die as human S’mores (a dish that is anything but pretentious), adds a layer of irony which nonetheless makes the themes of class divide abundantly clear.
Every single part of The Menu, from the opening to the finale, is steeped in real-life fine dining culture. The crew went to great lengths to capture all the experiences of both dining and working at a Michelin-star restaurant. Director Mark Mylod worked with Michelin star-winning chefs to create the restaurant and the food in The Menu (via Los Angeles Times). Dominique Crenn, the chef of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn who creates her dishes in the form of poems, showed Mylod how chefs work in the kitchen. The chef explained, “It was not just about the detail of the food; it was a detail of everything that was placed, the movement, the dance, the way that the server will carry the bottle, or the sommelier.”
Crenn also worked with Fiennes, teaching him how to act like a fine-dining chef at the end of their tether, which is why Chef Slowik’s ire felt extremely authentic in The Menu ending. The considerable weight on Chef’s Slowik’s shoulders as portrayed by Fiennes throughout The Menu came across as genuine, like it really had resulted from decades of working in the restaurant industry, which became essential conveying the core meaning and themes of The Menu. While it might seem outlandish, Chef Grant Achatz was even an influence on the over-the-top s’mores presentation in The Menu ending too — the explosive finale when Slowik sets the restaurant ablaze was influenced by Achatz’s Jackson Pollock-like live-drawn tabletop desserts.
While the themes of class division and social stratification and The Menu ending are absolutely clear, a lot of the movie is still open to interpretation. However, director Mark Mylod has definitively explained the ending of The Menu (via Den of Geek). Though Slowik is out-manipulated by Margot in The Menu ending, Mylod believes that Slowik was submissive and that he wasn’t so much out-manipulated as he was outsmarted. Mylod explained, “He also realized that she’s manipulating him but he allows her to win. All the unspoken business is in the final discourse between them and the burger.” Slowik let Margot go after knowingly being checkmated.
Mylod notes the surrealist 1962 movie The Exterminating Angel as a big influence, which is telling in itself. The Exterminating Angel has a similar premise about a group of wealthy dinner guests who are trapped at a dinner party, and it’s a representation of the aristocracy in Francisco Franco’s Spain. The director says of the profound movie, “the sense of culpability of those diners, which we try to imbue the whole run of our film with, so there is a sense of almost a return to innocence from the diners by the end of the piece.” In that respect, Mylod sees Chef Slowik as The Menu’s angel.
The fact Mylod believes that Chef Slowik is revealed as an angel is further proven when the director explains why Slowik kills the guests in The Menu. The director added, “From Chef Slowik’s point of view, they’re not getting their comeuppance, they’re getting liberation, they’re getting rebirth.” Chef Slowik might not be an angel either figuratively or literally, but he certainly believes he is. Either way, from Mylod’s standpoint, Slowik didn’t think he was doing anything wrong by burning a dozen entitled characters alive The Menu ending, but he also didn’t think he was killing them.
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