For anyone not familiar with the date night/lazy weekend/fake home sick from work tradition, "Netflix and chill" is pretty much what it sounds like—throwing on a movie or TV show from the popular streaming media platform and hanging out instead of going out into the world. To a foodservice operator, it also can be the inspiration for an event.
Movie and TV show releases on Netflix draw a rabid following—viewers are so excited about the November release of the revival series “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” for example, that they flocked to Gilmore Girls-themed pop-up coffee shops in October.
In the spirit of Netflix and chill, FoodService Director combed through the streaming service’s offerings and paired them with chili-based recipes—a combination with the makings of a great fall dining promotion. We call it "Netflix and chili."
Seafood Chili (Swedish Health Services, Seattle) and “Jaws” (1975)
This time, guests are the diners instead of the chow. Eric Eisenberg, corporate executive chef and retail operations manager of Swedish Health Services, let his Pacific Northwest surroundings inspire this recipe, which features salmon, braised greens, caramelized fennel and white beans in a Dungeness crab broth. Oyster crackers are optional to add a New England chowder bent.
Chili con Carne & Corn Tortilla Lasagna (St. Clare’s Health System; Denville, N.J.) and “Garfield and Friends” (1990)
Find us a human who loves lasagna more than Garfield the cat, and we’ll make you a pan of this Hispanic-themed adaptation of the classic Italian dish. Fans divided between the classic cartoon strip and the modern, Bill Murray-voiced CGI adaptations can come together to watch the TV cartoon version—that is, if they’re not fighting over extra portions of chili lasagna.
Cincinnati 3-Way Chili (Cincinnati Public Schools) and “The Addams Family” (1991)
Creepy, kooky, mysterious…and, somehow, successful. It’s probably an apt description for both the regional chili dish, which features spaghetti topped in the gravy-like chili and cheese, and the movie about the lovable Addams family of oddballs, which features a disembodied hand. Baby boomer and Gen X diners can draw comparisons between the ’90s adaptation and the original 1960s TV show.
Roanoke Hot Dog Chili (Carillon Clinic; Roanoke, Va.) and “Good Burger” (1997)
What meaty cookout pairing is more classic than burgers and hot dogs? Carillion’s chili plays on nostalgia for a local wiener stand by combining ground beef with hot dog flavors. Serve orange soda (the favorite beverage of “Good Burger” characters Ed and Dexter), hang a sign featuring the movie’s catchphrase (“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”) and let the ’90s Nickelodeon nostalgia flow.
Crispy Chili Chicken Drummies (Union Public Schools; Tulsa, Okla.) and “Pirates of the Caribbean” (2003)
While they’re not quite the giant turkey legs that pirates love to gnaw on, these restaurant-style chicken wings are a great handheld treat for diners who don’t want to tear their eyes from the screen. Served in the sports-themed concept at Collegiate Academy High School, the drummies are baked instead of fried, says Eli Huff, owner and executive chef at Salt Food Group. Encourage guests to don their favorite pirate hat or bandanna and talk like pirates for the entire event—just not while the movie is rolling, please.
Blueberry Mango Chili Smoothie and “Mean Girls” (2004)
It may not be pink (like the girls’ outfits on Wednesdays), but this healthy smoothie fits with the lady pack’s desire to stay healthy and shop stores that stock only petite clothing sizes. Chili powder and cayenne add a kick to the fruit, and the layered look is almost as fashionable as this hilarious Tina Fey flick that’s appropriate for almost any age.
Peanut Chili Caramel Corn and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005)
Any treat imaginable can be created in Willy Wonka’s factory, and we like to think he’d be thrilled about this zesty caramel corn, which gets a hit of heat from sambal chili sauce and ground cayenne pepper. Popcorn also is the perfect movie snack, which might help distract diners from Johnny Depp’s unsettling gazes in this adaptation of the far superior Gene Wilder classic.
Green Chili Mac & Cheese and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (2012-present)
There are few things “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri enjoys more than a wild combination of ingredients to put him on the bus to Flavortown. And with its blend of smoky roasted Anaheim chiles and pungent pepper jack and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, this mac should put him squarely on the right path. Guests also can play one of our favorite Triple D games: guessing how recently Fieri bleached his hair based on his roots.
Vegetarian Chili (Saint Barnabas Health Care System, New Jersey) and “Zootopia” (2016)
In the Disney world of “Zootopia,” nearly all animals are vegetarian—after all, it’d be pretty weird if members of a utopian society were allowed to eat each other. Likewise, the vegetarian employees at Saint Barnabas made the case for this vegetarian chili, which also avoids soy products. It’s a perfect pairing for the cute, timely movie about a bunny with big dreams.