“Welcome to hell. Now, recreate the soup. Take as much time as you need. All week if you must.”
―Skinner mocking Linguini
Chef Skinner (simply known as Skinner) is the main antagonist of Disney•Pixar's 2007 animated feature film, Ratatouille. He was the short-tempered sous chef of Auguste Gusteau who, after the untimely passing of the great chef, assumed control of their Parisian restaurant. Unlike his predecessor, Skinner is less concerned with making great food, and more so on using Gusteau's likeness to market a cheap brand of frozen food products for maximum profit; a practice that nearly destroys Gusteau's restaurant and reputation.
Chef Skinner is a short, grumpy man who is shown to hate rats very much and feels the need to act tough. When he discovers Remy and eventually captures him, Skinner forces Remy to create his frozen foods for him. Skinner is also bent on claiming the restaurant as his when Auguste Gusteau had no heir. However, he is not fully without any positive or redeeming traits, as he does show sympathy for the relatives of those who have perished - such as Linguini, upon discovering the death of his mother, Renata.
Role in the film
Skinner becomes the head chef of the famous restaurant Gusteau's after Gusteau dies. Before this, he was Gusteau's sous chef. In Gusteau's will, it was stated that Skinner would inherit Gusteau's business interests if no heir appeared within two years after the latter's death. Skinner did not hold Gusteau's ideals in the highest regard and was more concerned in profit from his line of Chef Gusteau Frozen Foods to maintain the restaurant's financial status. This line comprised of several different foreign foods like chicken, haggis, burritos, ribs, and corn dogs to appease overseas markets, with Gusteau as its image to woo buyers.
Skinner reluctantly hires Linguini to work at the restaurant as the plongeur (garbage boy) when he learns that Linguini's mother, Renata, with whom Gusteau was close, requested that Linguini gets the job before her recent death. He is shocked when Linguini makes a soup that night that impresses a food critic that just happened to be at the restaurant, although it was Remy who cooked it in secret. Suspicious, Skinner forces Linguini to make it again believing it is all a fluke.
After Linguini and Remy team up, they successfully recreate the soup and impress Skinner. However, they become rivals when Skinner learns that Linguini is Gusteau's biological son, and is determined to keep Linguini from discovering this fact. He becomes even more determined when he sees Linguini making contact with Remy on numerous occasions, suspecting that Linguini is scheming in the kitchen. During a special request from customers to have a new course off-menu, Skinner has Linguini make Gusteau's failed recipe "sweet bread a la gusteau" to bring him down but Remy succeeds in fixing the recipe and adjusting the sauce, causing the customers to love the dish and enhancing the restaurant's reputation.
He loses the restaurant to Linguini when it comes out that Linguini is the son of Gusteau. Remy discovered this fact and gave it to Linguini so that he may assume his rightful place as owner. Linguini later cancels the frozen food line altogether, as it was smearing Gusteau's image.
Skinner spies on Linguini and eventually discovers that Remy is the cook. To get revenge on both of them, he captures Remy and intends on forcing him to create a new line of frozen foods in exchange for not killing him, while attending the restaurant in disguise to see Linguini fail miserably and endure another scathing review from Anton Ego.
To Skinner's amusement, Linguini served him and Ego a simple dish of ratatouille but is surprised when Ego likes it. After Skinner tries his dish and finds its taste irresistible as well, he races to the kitchen to find that Remy and his colony of rats cooked the dish. The rats capture him, tie him up tightly in rope, and stuck a duct tape on his mouth. Once bound and gagged, he is tossed in the keeping room and locked up, along with the health inspector who has also been kidnapped, bound, and gagged earlier after he tried to report a rat infestation. However, the rats had to let them both loose since they can't keep them gagged forever, and Skinner reports the rat infestation to the health department, causing the restaurant to be closed. Nevertheless, Linguini opens up a new restaurant called La Ratatouille to continue Gusteau's legacy, and Skinner finally leaves him alone.
Despite being the head chef of Gusteau's, he is never seen cooking in the movie, preferring to bark orders to his employees and stay in his office instead.
Skinner's name is a nod to behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, famous for his experiments with rats.
Skinner's behavior, diminutive size, and body language are loosely based on Louis de Funès.
He is the first Pixar villain with an accent.
Skinner is unique among the main Pixar villains, as he does technically both win and lose, as since he cannot have Gusteau's, he gets it shut down instead, although his efforts ultimately lead to nothing, as Linguini and Colette open an equally popular restaurant funded by Anton Ego. Therefore Skinner temporarily wins, then finally loses.
Skinner's line, "Welcome to Hell," could be a reference to Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen, where Ramsay says, "Welcome to Hell," a few times.
Skinner using a footstool to get up to a stove references to an old emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte who to this day is inaccurately mocked for his supposed short height.