Working Girl

When a secretary has her business idea stolen by her boss, she decides to impersonate her boss in order to take back her idea and get the credit she deserves.

Released in 1988, directed by Mike Nichols, and featuring an absolute all-star cast, Working Girl is easily one of my favorite films, and one that I make a point of watching at least once a year. Considering this film is about fresh starts, new beginnings, and making changes to create that life you desire, I felt like there was no better time to feature it than the beginning of a brand new year. 

The very first food moment in Working Girl occurs just a couple of minutes into the film when Cyn (Joan Cusack) is singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Tess (Melanie Griffith) while holding a Hostess CupCake with a trio of candles in it as the duo ferry to Manhattan. Then when the two make it onto the island, we can see various food carts lining the sidewalk as Tess and Cyn walk and talk on their way into work.

A few additional minutes into the film, Tess’s fellow secretaries come over with a cake box along with balloons and flowers, although we never end up seeing what is inside the box since it is just out of frame. A minute later, we cut to Tess coming home and finding her friends hiding in the closet with drinks in their hands, waiting to surprise her for her birthday. From this scene we then cut to Tess riding in a limousine with Bob Speck who is opening a bottle of Dom Perignon, which explodes over the both of them when he pops the cork. When Tess then goes to leave the limo, she takes the bottle, shakes it and sprays champagne all over Bob before exiting the vehicle.

The next food or drink moment occurs when Tess arrives at her new office and we can see other secretaries eating and drinking coffee in the background, as well as a delivery man bringing in a food order. After Tess meets her new boss, Katharine (Sigourney Weaver), Katharine says to her, “Why don’t you pour us a couple of coffees and come inside. I’m light, no sugar.” Tess then enters Katharine’s office with a couple mugs of coffee. A few moments after this scene in Katharine’s office, we then see Tess heading to her desk, presumably back from the cafeteria or a corner deli, with a clear plastic takeout container containing a salad, as well as a coffee, which she gives to her cubicle neighbor. 

As soon as Tess makes it to her desk, she is called into Katharine’s office, where they are joined by Ginny who gives Tess instructions for coordinating their work party. Ginny tells Tess that the, “caterer is called Acme Eats,” and that, “they do the usual hors d’oeuvres and such.” Tess then mentions that she was just reading about Dim Sum, which are “these little Chinese dumplings,” and that “there’s a restaurant on Mott Street that does them for cocktail parties.” We then cut to a scene at the work cocktail event where Tess is with a giant steaming tray of dumplings. Guests have cocktails in their hands and are taking dumplings from Tess’s cart as she passes. Tess then stops by Katharine who takes one of the dumplings from the tray and gives it a nibble before telling Tess to do another pass around the party.

The next scene to feature food occurs when Tess and Mick (Alec Baldwin) are walking home one night. Tess is holding a large brown bag of groceries and Mick is holding a pizza. After Tess talks to Mick about her work life, Mick responds, saying, “Tess, that’s great, but let’s step on it or the pizza’s gonna freeze, honey.” Following this pizza moment, there are a couple of additional small drink moments included Tess going to her desk with a cup of coffee, as well as Tess drinking a can of Coors Light on the ferry home.

Following these smaller drink appearances, we have a more significant drink appearance when Tess arrives at the Dewey Stone party. As soon as Tess walks through the door we see a shot of people with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in hand. Tess then heads to the bar where she is joined by Jack (Harrison Ford), who orders them two tequila golds and whispers “doubles” to the bartender. Upon hearing the drink order, Tess turns to Jack and asks, “Tequila?,” to which Jack replies, “I promised myself that when we met, we’d drink tequila. No chardonnay, no frog water. Real drinks.” Jack and Tess then proceed to drink their tequila doubles with lime wedges as a chaser. After sucking on his lime wedge, Jack promptly orders another round and we see a shot of the bartender filling two glasses with more tequila gold.

Later that night when Tess is passes out in Jack’s apartment, Jack asks her, “Would you like a nightcap?,” and when she doesn’t respond, he replies, “I guess not. It’s too late for coffee… Herb tea? No, I don’t have any. It always sounds good when people offer it to me when I’m in your shape. I might have a little brandy myself.”

The next day when Jack and Tess are about to begin their meeting, Jack asks Tess, “Coffee?,” and Tess instinctually gets up to go fetch it before a secretary asks her, “Milk and sugar?,” and Tess responds, “Um yes, both. Thank you.”

Following the meeting, we cut to Tess at her desk being consoled by Cyn, presumably during their lunch break judging by the appearance of takeout food. On the desk we can see an aluminum container with a clear plastic top containing a salad, as well as a sandwich and a side on French fries.

A few moments later when Jack arrives, Cyn asks him, “Can I get you anything Mr. Trainer? Coffee, tea, me?” When Tess is then walking Jack to the elevator he asks Tess out for dinner and when she turns him down he says, “I don’t want complicated either, I just thought dinner and maybe a movie.”

The next scene to feature food or drink occurs during Cyn’s engagement party, which takes place at a bar. In addition to people drinking, there is a buffet table that looks to have standard party food fare. Tess arrives, and shortly thereafter joins Mick at the bar who according to Cyn is “about to drown himself in the scotch.” Upon taking a seat, Tess orders a Chivas and in addition to the bottle of scotch and drink glasses on the bar, there is also a bowl of bar nuts. Then, later that night when Tess and Mick are arguing, Tess tells Mick, “I am not steak. You can’t just order me.”

The next notable food or drink sequence following Cyn’s engagement party occurs when Katharine is having a party in her hospital room and we can see champagne, a fruit basket in the background, as well as hors d’ oeuvres being passed including cheese & crackers.

Following Katharine’s hospital party, the next appearance of food onscreen happens during Tess and Jack’s work lunch. As the two walk along the city sidewalk talking about work, they both take bites of what looks like some type of wrap or sandwich, which presumably was picked up at either one of the food carts lining the sidewalk, or at a corner deli.

Tess tells Jack that she is meeting with Trask the next day at 3:00, and when Jack points out that “3:00 is a late lunch.,” Tess explains, “Well it’s not exactly lunch, but there will be food there.” We then cut to Tess and Jack attending Trask’s daughter’s Caribbean-themed wedding where we see plenty of tropical drinks and food. When Tess goes to powder her nose in the bathroom, Jack gets himself a couple of large tropical drinks complete with parasols and fruit garnishes and proceeds to slurp one down through a tall straw. Upon finishing the first cocktail Jack places the empty glass back on the bar before proceeding to go to town on the second cocktail.

Later that night as Jack and Tess are up late working on their deal, we see them with what looks like glasses of white wine on the table. Then when the two are at their meeting with Trask’s company, we see china cups and saucers on the massive meeting table. Following the meeting, later when Tess and Jack are back at his place, we see Jack accept a takeout delivery and bring a couple of unidentifiable bags into his apartment, although we never get to see what is inside of them.

The next appearance of food onscreen occurs when Tess is clearing out Katharine’s fridge and we see what looks like a tub of cottage cheese, as well as a partial six-pack of Pepsi, and a Chinese takeout box. Then when Jack is visiting Katharine at her apartment, Jack bring her some champagne in bed at her request.

In the following scene, we then see a jar of candy on the meeting conference table, along with coffee service.

Lastly, the film’s final appearance occurs when Jack and Tess are in the kitchen getting ready to go to work. As Tess hold the mugs, Jack pours the two of them coffee, and we can see remnants of orange juice pulp on the juicer in the foreground of the frame. We then see Jack buttering toast as Tess eats of spoonful of what is presumably oatmeal before Jack gives Tess the partially eaten piece of toast to finish, which Tess then adds some honey to. We then see one of the most romantic moments on film as Jack gifts Tess a monogramed lunchbox for her first day of her new job. Inside the box we see that Jack has packed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, some milk money, Twinkies, a pen, pencil, ruler, and an apple for the teacher.

Finally, the last mention of any food or drink in the film comes when Alice offers Tess some coffee and Tess requests it with milk and sugar.

For my Working Girl-inspired vegan menu, I decided to include the various lunch takeout options featured onscreen at various moments in the film including a wrap, French fries, and a salad. I also wanted to include a little Dim Sum in the pairing so I made sure to have a side of steamed vegetable dumplings.

Then for dessert, I of course had to include a vegan version of a Hostess CupCake, and for my beverages I went with tequila gold & a lime wedge, as well as a coffee with milk a sugar, just the way Tess likes it.

Lastly, for the table setting, I chose a fabric that had a bit of an 1980s workwear vibe to it to use as a tablecloth, as well as included a small arrangement of red roses, baby’s breath and alstroemeria, which also felt particularly ‘80s to me.

And that concludes the very first food & a film post for 2021! I have put together an exciting list of films that I am looking forward to featuring on the blog over the course of the year. Thank you for tuning in for this year’s inaugural post, and be sure to come back next month for another food & a film pairing. Happy New Year!

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