** A word of warning – don’t see this film if you haven’t eaten!**
The film Chef opened in Adelaide on May 8, with an all star cast including Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr.
Favreau wrote, directed, produced and starred in Chef, a project he’d been working on for some time.
Favreau plays chef Carl Casper, who quits his job after creative differences with restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman). This follows a devastating review by critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), a Twitter war and an embarrassing viral video.
He’s invited to Miami by ex-wife Inez (Vergara) to spend time with their son Percy (Emjay Anthony). While there, another of Inez’s ex-husbands, Marvin (Downey Jr), offers Casper an old food truck.
Casper’s friend and chef from the restaurant, Martin (Leguizamo), shows up and along with Percy they set about restoring the food truck and turning it into something spectacular.
Casper reignites his passion for cooking creatively and takes a road trip home to LA, reconnecting with his son and having a wow of a time.
I really enjoyed this film and there are some great themes.
Restaurant owner Riva didn’t want the menu changed from what Casper had been cooking for years; but Casper yearned to show his creative side and try something new.
There’s no doubt some chefs will feel this way – there are restaurants and cafés that refresh their menus often, while others cook the same thing year in, year out. From my personal view as a home cook, I get a little bored cooking the same thing and look for new recipes to try and new flavour combinations. You need to be excited by your cooking just as much as the people you are cooking for need their palates to be excited.
The themes here are relevant not just for those who cook but for anyone who dreams of being creative, exploring new opportunities and challenging themselves in different ways.
I also loved how the son Percy was involved in the plot. When Casper takes his son out he gets him to try new foods and new flavours. I think this is really important for a child and it’s something we try to do (with varying degrees of success) with our son. But Casper also involved Percy in the cooking process on the road and he became a line cook, learning on the job (and getting burnt in the process), as all cooks do! A touching moment is when Percy receives his first chef’s knife.
Favreau showcases his research and cooking skills during this film, with excellent knife skills in the opening sequences. He worked with Roy Choi, the king of LA’s street food scene, winner of Food and Wine Magazine’s 2010 Best New Chef award. Choi also pioneered the concept of gourmet fast food with his Kogi BBQ Taco Truck, and using social media. Favreau also went to work on the Taco Truck to really immerse himself in the role.
The food they cooked on screen is mouth-watering and it’s a lot of fun; Casper went to great lengths to make a cheese toastie!
Favreau also highlights the region’s food speciality and I loved how Percy really wanted to go to Café du Monde in New Orelans’ French Quarter, to try beignets, a deep fried choux pastry.
A great, feel good film, not to see on an empty stomach!