‘Hunger’ (2023) Ending, Explained: Does Aoy Win Against Chef Paul?

“Hunger,” tells the story of social classes and passion through the lens of the culinary world. Take “Whiplash” or “The Menu” and place it in Bangkok, and you have “Hunger.” It stars popular actress Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying and is directed by the “Girl From Nowhere” director Sitisiri Mongkolsiri. Running for 2 hours and 25 minutes, the movie drags on a little bit with lengthy sequences of food and devouring. Read our full review here before getting into what happens in “Hunger” on Netflix.

Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Hunger’?

“Hunger” follows the story of Aoy, a young girl in Bangkok who runs her father’s noodle business. She’s a talented cook and enjoys her work. She has a young sister and a dad to care for. One day, a young man approaches her with a business card. It’s an offer for a spot at one of the exclusive kitchens in town, led by the prestigious Chef Paul. Having never heard of the kitchen, the namesake of the film, Aoy decides to ignore the card and carry on with her duties. At night, though, out of curiosity, she looks up Hunger and Chef Paul. She finds that Paul is a sought-after chef, and the wealthiest families in Thailand invite him over to personally cook for them. Aoy is immediately intrigued by this because she notices that the chef makes people feel special through his food. Aoy wants the same for her customers. She, too, wants to be “special.” She gets selected in a face-off for the new hire of the kitchen, but the cut-throat attitude of the chef pushes her to her limits quite soon. With burned hands and sweat on her face, she decides to leave when she’s unable to fry the beef perfectly, as the chef demands.

However, her drive to be special is too strong, and she returns immediately, perfecting the fry and falling asleep in the kitchen. This is just the beginning of Aoy’s journey to finding her passion for the new culinary world she has entered. She befriends the team quite quickly. Tone, the man who had given her the business card, is quick to show her around the kitchen. He takes her to get the seafood produce and even teaches her the ways of the chef. Together, they explore foods and get close. Their relationship progresses adorably until something happens in the kitchen. In the meantime, they have been serving unique foods to the crème de la crème of Thailand.

Back in the kitchen, Paul notices that there’s a thief amongst them. Important beef cuts have gone missing from the storage, and he is furious. The head sous-chef claims it is he who has stolen the meat, but in reality, Aoy realizes it was Tone who stole it in order to impress her. The sous chef throws his apron at her as a sign that he thinks it is she, the talented newcomer, who has stolen from their sacred place. Tone doesn’t say anything about what happens, and the matter is forgotten with the head sous-chef leaving the kitchen. To teach them a lesson, Paul makes Aoy the head chef for an important job. It is to feed a family of three, including a four year old girl and her parents.

Aoy notices the father of the family handing some cash to Paul. She is slightly confused by this but doesn’t pay much heed to it when they are feeding the family. Strangely, unlike their usual customers, these ones look sad, and the mother is crying. Aoy and the team don’t really notice this, but Paul might know something that he is not sharing with the rest of them. During the second course, Paul notices something strange in the soup and tosses it out, replacing it with ramen broth. The family relishes the meal, and the team heads back. It turns out that the soup had shrimp in it. The little girl had a shrimp allergy, and the chef told the whole team about it. When he checked the stock, there were shrimp in it.

Paul is infuriated and immediately takes it out on the person in charge of the soup. He was on Paul’s team the longest. Paul asks him if he deliberately put shrimp in the soup to make Paul look bad and ruin his career. Paul goes a step too far and uses physical actions such as pulling his hair and using his index finger on his temple. The insult is too much for the older man, and he takes the opportunity, grabbing a knife off the table and stabbing Paul in the stomach. Paul is rushed to the hospital, and Aoy brings her family’s heirloom, the “Crybaby Noodles,” to Chef Paul. There, Paul tells her why he decided to become a chef. He also grew up in poverty, and he realized pretty early on that the food you eat represents your status. He tells her an anecdote of his childhood, where he accidentally dropped a jar of caviar, ruining his mom’s work and getting them both in trouble. Since then, he had wanted the rich to be at his feet when they ate his food. What Aoy thinks to be a love for cooking is actually just desperation for power. But for Aoy, it has always been about love. At the same time, though, Aoy’s father collapses, and she rushes to another hospital, where we see the difference in treatment between the rich family of Paul and the poor family of Aoy. Aoy also notices on the news that the family they had fed had killed themselves in a murder-suicide. She’s heartbroken and begins to reconsider her decision to join “Hunger.”

Paul regains his health and is back on the job, and the party they are going to feed is hunting in the forest. They end up hunting a hornbill, which is an illegal practice. Aoy can’t take it anymore and quits her job at “Hunger.” She drew a line at doing anything illegal. She is recruited by a guy named Tos, who wants to capitalize on her looks and story rather than her talent for cooking. He too, knows that people are more interested in the spectacle than the actual food they are presented with. After a lot of hard work, Aoy starts her own restaurant called “Flame.” As the head chef there, she starts to mimic the mannerisms of Paul because she has the “hunger” for power as well. She wants to be the best chef in town, even better than her master. But does Aoy have it in her to leave everything behind? Her love, her family, her love for cooking?

‘Hunger’ Ending Explained – How Does Aoy Win Against Chef Paul?

After Aoy leaves, Tone also ends up leaving Chef Paul. He too starts his own place, but without a sponsor, he was unable to stay afloat in the business. Aoy feels pity for Tone and requests that Tos help him. Tos reluctantly agrees and also tells Aoy that she has her first presentation at a famous socialite’s house in the coming future. Aoy is overjoyed to showcase her talent to the world and is ready for the challenge. Just as she is getting more confident at the thing she does best, Paul visits her at “Flame.” He tastes her food as she still seeks approval from her idol. He tells her that it is not he who should be giving her his opinion, but the customer’s opinion that matters. To her utter surprise, even though Paul looks appreciative of her food, he sets her up for a new challenge. She is not the only chef hired by the socialite. Paul is going to be there too.

In an ultimate showdown between the pupil and the master, Paul and Aoy find themselves trying hard to defeat each other through their showmanship. The food really doesn’t remain relevant anymore. When Aoy presents a beautiful, gentle dish with white smoke coming out of it, Paul brings down a sacrificial animal and marinates it on a giant fire right in the middle of the house (we’re not sure how that was approved considering the safety regulations, but we’ll let it pass). Then, showing her true colors, Aoy chooses to present the dish that feels like home, the dish that satisfies her appetite: the “Crybaby Noodles.” Paul is unsurprised by this and delivers a simple soup that looks almost water-like to cleanse the palate of “oil” from the fried noodles. Aoy is disappointed by the reaction of the crowd, which keeps shifting its interest between the two chefs without actually enjoying the food.

In the end, before the final showdown, Paul gets arrested by the police as the Hornbill incident has been leaked to the press. Cooking illegal meat without any remorse makes him a criminal. It turns out that it was Tone who helped Tos with this information and shared the video. Aoy is extremely disheartened; this is not how she wanted to win. She wanted to win as the better chef, but that would’ve never happened because Paul was more well-known and had more magic up his sleeve than her. Aoy comes to the realization that she never wanted what Paul had. She only ever wanted people to enjoy her food, and that was only possible at her family’s noodle restaurant. The rich could never understand her cooking because it was always about how she could top the previous spectacle. At last, Aoy returns home to her family and her one true love: cooking from the heart.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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