If films such as Big Night, Julie & Julia, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi whet your appetite, get ready for the latest addition to the Foodie Movie Hall of Fame, namely Jon Favreau’s recently released Chef. In addition to featuring some of the best food porn of all time (including a grilled cheese scene that will have you drooling in your popcorn!) this delightful film boasts an all-star cast worthy of a Summer blockbuster. Well-known names such as Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo add tremendous depth to this charming indie film.
Chef deserves recognition for many reasons not the least of which is Favreau’s ability to play the part of a Chef so convincingly. You’d think he’s been secretly working in a kitchen all these years while simultaneously writing, directing and starring in an assortment of our favorite films including Iron Man (1, 2 and 3), Elf, The Avengers, Rudy and of course the 90′s classic Swingers which originally launched his career. From the way he wields a Chef’s knife to the tattoos that span the length of his meaty arms, Favreau is spot on. In order to achieve such proficiency he trained in the kitchens of Chef Roy Choi, Chef and Owner of Kogi Gourmet Korean Taco Truck, as well as an intensive, week-long stint at culinary school. His immersion in his character is reflective of the passion he has widely admitted to having for this film which he also wrote, produced and directed.
The story is about Chef Carl Casper who, having emerged as a rising star a few years prior, is mired in a creatively stifling job in Los Angeles cooking for a controlling, sweetbread-averse restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) whose only concern is keeping the menu the way it’s always been. Casper also happens to be going through a divorce from his wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) while trying to maintain a relationship with his son Percy (the adorable Emjay Anthony). When faced with a dismal review from a very influential food blogger, Casper knows he has to prove the offending meal was not reflective of his ability and talent. What he doesn’t anticipate is the impact social media will have on his life and career. While 2009′s Julie & Julia brought food blogging to the fore, this film cleverly addresses the array of current social media platforms such as Twitter, Vine, and YouTube and how they intersect with the global foodie community. The resulting cyber-shenanigans lead Casper on a cross-country, culinary Odyssey which will leave him and those who love and believe in him forever changed.
In addition to Los Angeles, the film is also shot on location in some famous foodie meccas across the country including New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde and Austin’s Franklin Barbeque. Scenes were also shot on location here in Miami, featuring landmarks such as Hoy Como Ayer, Versailles in Little Havana and the Fontainebleau using only locals as extras.
Chef offers up a delicious buffet of comedy, drama, inspiration and, at the very least, some serious culinary eye candy that will definitely have you lining up for seconds. Before I give anymore away, please make a date to see this delightful film and just a word of advice…don’t go on an empty stomach!