The animation team worked alongside chef Thomas Keller at his restaurant French Laundry in order to learn the art of cooking. Mr. Keller also appears in a cameo role as the voice of a patron at Gusteau's.
Several changes to the design of the rats (primarily the nose and ears) were made after Debbie Ducommun, a rat expert, brought down several of her personal pets for the art and animation departments to observe.
To create a realistic-looking compost pile, artists photographed and researched the way real produce rots. Fifteen different kinds of produce were left to rot and then photographed, such as apples, berries, bananas, mushrooms, oranges, broccoli, and lettuce.
During the character design process, the sculptor created nine handmade clay sculpts of the film's protagonist, Remy. Six of those sculpts were different design explorations. The last three were different poses of the final design.
To find out how to animate the scene where the Head Chef is wet, they actually dressed someone in a chef suit, and put him in a swimming pool to see which parts of the suit stuck to his body, and which parts you could see through.
The brand of motorcycle that Colette rides, as evidenced by the logo on the gas tank, is Calamari - in reference to a dish made from squid, or the Italian word for squid. A "squid" is a term for a rider of sport motorcycles, usually young men, who relish emulating famous racers on public highways, and quite often have battle scars on both their bodies and on their bikes. It originally was a derogatory term, but now squids proudly wear the label. "Team Calamari" is often seen on bumper stickers and t-shirts, often accompanied by wild Ed "Big Daddy" Roth style caricatures. Colette's bike itself is styled after a Ducati (an Italian make) Hailwood Replica.
Some of the scenes in the movie were rendered based on the rehearsal demo footage performed by Lou Romano (Linguini) and shot by DP Robert Anderson with Brad Bird supervising. An example from that has Romano taking his bicycle inside his house.
Storyboard and animator Peter Sohn was cast on the spot for the role of Emile when director Brad Bird accidentally found out that his demeanor and voice were exactly like the character description of Emile.
The window shop displaying dead rats actually exists. It is the window of Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles, an exterminator established since 1872, located 8 rue des Halles in the first arrondissement.
Part of the story was initially supposed to take place in the catacombs below Paris. This idea was dropped when Brad Bird took over the project from Jan Pinkava. Only short sections taking place in the sewers remain from the original project.
Skinner's car is an early 1960s Facel Vega HK 500. Facel Vega was an extremely obscure French marque built in tiny numbers at extraordinary cost for the very cream of society and glitterati for only 10 years between '54 and '64. Equivalent to somewhere between a Bentley and an Aston Martin, they were looked down upon by some for having a Chrysler V8 engine, but the eventual cost of designing their own engine pretty much destroyed the company. Arguably the most stylish car of all time.
The ratatouille dish prepared by Remy is the alternate variation called confit byaldi. It was adapted by film consultant Thomas Keller. This variation differs much from the conventional ratatouille in terms of preparation and method. The major difference is that the vegetables used are sliced thinly and baked instead of cooking them in the pot.
Linguini's full name is Alfredo Linguini. Alfredo is a pasta sauce often served over fettuccine, named after its inventor, Italian chef Alfredo di Lelio. Linguini (also spelled Linguine) is a form of long, narrow, flat pasta, similar to spaghetti.
When Ego, the food critic, reads back his first scathing review, he compares Gusteau to Chef Boyardee, who was in fact a real chef (true Italian name spelled Boiardi) famous for his brand of food products.
When Remy is climbing out of the sewers for the first time, he is barked at by a dog in one of the homes. You only see the dog's silhouette, but it is actually the dog, Dug, from Pixar's then still-in-production film, Up.
The concept was first hatched by Jan Pinkava in 2001 and he had mapped out the original design, sets, characters and core story. However, Pixar management were not convinced that the main story was delivering the goods so Pinkava was replaced by Brad Bird in 2005.
The changes that Brad Bird brought to Jan Pinkava's original story were that he killed off Gusteau, gave larger roles to Skinner and Colette and also redesigned the rats to make them look a bit more like rats.
Disney and Pixar were planning to bring a French-produced Ratatouille-branded wine to Costco stores. That was until the California Wine Institute complained, suggesting that a wine sporting cartoon characters would only encourage under-age drinking.
As of January 2008, the film had grossed in excess of $206,000,000 in North America and a total over $620,000,000 worldwide, making it the third highest grossing Pixar film up to that point, just behind Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
Walt Disney Pictures were reluctant to push Ratatouille as a nominee for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, fearing that members might overlook it in the Best Animated Feature category where it was deemed to be a lock. Instead, they concentrated their efforts on making sure it won in the animated category.
Jan Pinkava's involvement in the film ended after a few years when John Lasseter decided that the leadership and vision required to helm a full-length animated feature were simply not there. Brad Bird, who had just finished The Incredibles was asked to help out whenever he inundated Lasseter with appealing story ideas for the project. Eventually, he was given the reins, while Pinkava left the company.
SERIES TRADEMARK: Every PIXAR film has had a reference to room A-113 from the California Institute of the Arts. A number of animators began their CalArts career in this room, including John Lasseter and Brad Bird. A-113 appears on a little tag clipped to the ear of a rat named Git.
SERIES TRADEMARK: John Ratzenberger (Mustafa) once again provides a voice in a Pixar film (the only actor do so in every Pixar film). It's also noted that this is the second time Ratzenberger has voiced a human, after The Underminer, in The Incredibles. Before, he has voiced a piggy bank in Toy Story and Toy Story 2; a flea in A Bug's Life; The Abominable Snowman in Monsters, Inc.; a school of fish in Finding Nemo; and a Mack truck in Cars. It is also the first Pixar film in which Ratzenberger's character has a different accent from the actor's own.
At 1:16:29 as Linguini & Colette roller skate down the sidewalk, a Mime is performing for some people. The CG Model for the Mime is the same model used in The Incredibles for the character Bomb Voyage!
Chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain's favorite food-centric film. Bourdain said, "They got the food, the reactions to food, and tiny details to food really right - down to the barely noticeable pink burns on one of the character's forearms. I really thought it captured a passionate love of food in a way that very few other films have."
Auguste Gusteau's surname is a pun on "gustation", the technical term for the sense of taste. Auguste plays on the adjective "august" meaning impressive, lordly, authoritative ... and perhaps a kindly reference to his size.
In one of the earlier scenes, an eccentric red-haired woman fires a shot gun at two rodents, Remy and his brother Emil; this mimics a scene in a classic Disney film The Rescuers in which red-haired villainess Madame Medusa fires her shotgun maniacally in an attempt to rid herself of mouse protagonists Miss Bianca and Bernard.
The wine ordered by Anton Ego, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947, is a real wine, a Grand Cru Bordeaux blend from the St Emilion region and an excellent vintage as well. Bottles stored properly should be in their prime drinking window as late as 2050. A bottle ordered in a restaurant would probably be priced in excess of $2,000 (in 2012 US dollars).
The bad guy in this movie is the Head Chef, Skinner, voiced by Ian Holm who tries to put Remy in a box. The character was named after behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, who was known for the Skinner Box, where rats were placed and trained to push a button for food.
Linguini and (the ghost of) Gusteau both learn that Linguini is Gusteau's son born out of wedlock. This makes this the first Disney full-length animated motion picture to feature a main character of "illegitimate" parentage: all prior main characters were either orphaned, had both parents married and living, or had one living widowed parent.