Ever since the movie Swingers I’ve loved Jon Favreau. I haven’t agreed with his movie choices lately with blockbusters such as the Iron Man films, but I enjoy his Dinner for Five Series and now Chef brings him back to sharing food, friends and stories. He’s written a film about a self-absorbed chef who gives up his safe restaurant job after a bad review, for creative integrity, and ends up searching for a new way to express himself and discover happiness on a food truck. While food is everything to him, Chef Casper is forced to explore his relationship with his 10 year old son, himself, ex-wife, friends, and the ways of the Internet. His journey is an enjoyable one to watch.
I went to see Chef at a matinee with my foodie friend. Unfortunately I was late for our planned lunch and the theater café was closed. The thought of eating concession popcorn for lunch was unthinkable, so we snuck in some food from neighboring Japantown. No. I’m not above sneaking in food. Although my friend wasn’t pleased. However I won’t be forced to eat junk from the theatre. Plus I cleaned up after myself, which is more than I can say for many theatre goers. You’d never know where I ate my tea noodles.
Chef was big with food and personalities. In addition to Favreau (Chef Casper), there’s Sophia Vergara (the ex-wife), Scarlett Johansson (the hostess), Dustin Hoffman (the restaurateur), Oliver Platt (food blogger/critic) John Leguizamo (the sous chef), and even Robert Downey Jr. (Sophia’s other ex) . The 10 year old son, Percy , is played by Emjay Anthony. He’s got an old soul and can hold his own with Favreau beautifully.
While watching this film my friend and I were very pleased to eat our contraband lunch. Food itself is one of the main stars in Chef. It all looks amazing and delicious and you wish you could taste every dish. Everything from caviar eggs to grilled meats to chocolate lava cake to cubano sandwiches are on screen – sizzling and tempting you for two hours. In addition to the beautiful food is the carefully chosen soundtrack to help transport you as the food truck travels from Miami to Los Angeles and has the rhythms and beats to match.
Chef is one for the time capsule. The backdrop is the foodie scene as we know, live and eat it today. Learning via Twitter where a certain food truck will be during your lunch break. Reading the latest food blog that can make or break a chef. Kids knowing more than their parents about the ins and outs of videos and the Internet. Teaching kids the importance of cooking, sharing and eating good, real food. There’s even a reminder of one of my favorite other food movies, Ratatouille (see past review) in the feel good ending. Stay past the credits and watch famous Korean taco truck chef Roy Choi, who consulted on Chef, teach Jon Favreau how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. For all these reasons I really enjoyed the film. So go …but not hungry.