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The Menu's Hong Chau Drew From Personal Experience To Get Into Elsa's Mindset

Despite her limited dialogue, Hong Chau's Elsa proved to be significant in the 2022 movie "The Menu." While speaking to The A.V. Club in November 2022, Chau noted that the maître d'hôtel's involvement in unveiling Chef Julian Slowik's (Ralph Fiennes) murderous menu theme is never explained. In fact, the manager shares little of herself and shows the most emotion after Julian labels her as careless for not assigning a duty before the demented dessert is served. Chau explained that due to the sparseness of details regarding her character, she imagined possible explanations for Elsa's sometimes violent actions. "I did have to come up with my own backstory for Elsa because there wasn't much there on the page," said Chau.

The actress shared that she used her childhood memories of being the daughter of restaurant owners for her part as Elsa. She suggested her parent's vocation caused her to be more empathetic toward those working in the restaurant industry.

"My parents, when I was growing up, had a little mom-and-pop restaurant. From that experience, I understood how much work goes into preparing a meal and it arrives at your table for you to just casually and mindlessly consume," said the "The Whale" actress. "And I also understood how difficult it is for a restaurant to turn a profit. So, you know, my heart's always going to be with that group of people versus the diners, the consumers."

Hong Chau said she had 'a hand in creating' Elsa

Chau discussed her character in "The Menu" during a November 2022 interview on ABS-CBN News. She shared she found being in the film enjoyable, particularly because she was able to give input on Elsa. "It was something that I got an opportunity to really have a hand in creating and that's really fun and exciting. I talked with Mark [Mylod], our director a lot about how we could lift the character off the page," said the actress.

The "Menu" star then stated that she believed Elsa's ability to help Julian have a successful restaurant is a source of pride for the manager. The actress also said she thinks her character is aware her role as maître d' is invaluable to the celebrity chef. "I think she really sees herself as an asset to him and knows deep down that he couldn't be who he is and where he is without her," stated the "Inherent Vice" actress. 

During a December 2022 interview on "Late Night With Seth Meyers," Chau shared that she worked in the food service industry before her career as a professional actress. However, the "Downsizing" actress did not seem to revere her position like Elsa.

"I still have the pay stub from when I was a cater waiter ... As a reminder of that nightmare," quipped Chau.