What The Cheeseburger Means in “The Menu” (Spoilers Ahead)


Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, and more, “The Menu” follows a young couple as they eat at a highly exclusive restaurant helmed by a chef with more than terrifying intentions. Towards the end of the movie, a film that celebrates cuisine that’s dramatic and elaborate, we see emphasis placed on a traditional cheeseburger. Through all the jaw-dropping, meticulously engineered meals in the movie, the cheeseburger is perhaps given the most attention. Many fans of the film would call it the most iconic food served in the movie. That being said, some viewers found the departure to the cheeseburger to be a bit too random and abrupt. Now, we’ll examine just what that cheeseburger meant and how it tied into the bigger picture of “The Menu.”

The ending of “The Menu” explained

After Erin breaks into Chef Slowik’s home and defeats one of his servants, she enters a room that she was initially forbidden to enter. The room contains a picture of the chef in his much younger years. In it, he’s smiling and doing the job of a simple burger cook in a hamburger restaurant. Before this scene, Chef Slowik and Erin had a long chat about being service workers. He called out Erin, who was called Margot at that point in the film, on the basis that she wasn’t appreciative of his fancy and ostentatious meals and recognized his real cooking skills more. 

Before she left the house, Erin found a phone and called the coastguard for help. Personnel appeared to arrive on the island, and the chef put on a big show of cleaning up all traces of what happened. When the coast guard comes in and asks who called for help, the chef responds that nothing was wrong and that they were all just having dinner. When one of the guests slips a note to the coast guard asking to save them, he pointed the gun at the chef. While the guests had a fleeting moment of relief, they soon learned that the coast guard was with the chef the whole time. Rather than help the guests, he lit the candle near Erin using a lighter gun, indicating to the chef that she sent out the distress signal and hence breaking his trust in Erin.

What is the meaning of the cheeseburger?

As Erin placed her order for the cheeseburger, Chef Slowik seemed so happy, you might think he was going to tear up. He complimented her choice of cheese, agreeing that American was the best option to go with a cheeseburger. As he cooked up the burger in the kitchen, he had a smile on his face, and it was clear that he had found joy in cooking for the first time in a very long time.

The cheeseburger represented Slowik’s epiphany. It was his moment of redemption and freed him from the chains he was shackled to — that of serving the pretentious upper echelon of society. Once, the chef was happy as a burger flipper. But as he got more famous, he started to serve the common people less and less. When he finally achieved a fine dining restaurant of his own, it was only to serve the picky rich who tended to criticize the food.

However, this pivotal cheeseburger scene helped him connect to his cooking roots and helped him remember the days of his youth when he was just an amateur cook in the beginning of his career. The burger-flipping job is what first helped him fall in love with the art of cooking, and Erin’s order helped to reignite that long-dormant passion, which disappeared ages ago when he began only cooking to “please the unpleasable,” In Slowik’s own words.

After Erin took a juicy bite, she complimented the chef and said it was a real burger, not like any of the nonsense that was served earlier. She paid for her burger and asked for the rest “to go” with the takeout being her ticket to escape. Fortunately, Chef Slowik agreed. The “to go” moment also gave the chef a new thought to reminisce on: the rich never order takeout. Instead, they thoughtlessly left the leftovers on the plate and didn’t fully appreciate the meal. Erin, on the other hand, wanted to show that she did indeed hope to savor the burger until the very last bite but, unfortunately, was “already full.”