Directed by: John Favreau
Written by: John Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman
Unbridled passion for one’s craft draws immense respect because of what those folks are willing to sacrifice to succeed in their desired field. The area of cooking, however, delivers the best results when you get to enjoy the fruit of the work made by these passionate and glorious artists. With the fun and light film Chef, we get to witness the experience of self-discovery for our protagonist while also enjoying the delicious food on display.
Respected among his colleagues for his passion and artistry as a chef, Carl (John Favreau) clashes with the owner of the restaurant employing him. They typically bump heads on what food to have on the menu and after a negative review from a well-known food critic, it pushes Carl to the brink where he needs to restart. He finds himself back in Miami starting from scratch and connecting with his son.
As a warning, watching Chef on an empty stomach will do you harm because of the gorgeous and delicious food put on display throughout the story. As a film with this title suggests, food will be a focal point of the story and every scene displays how each item gets made had me salivating. Forget the story about a man reconnecting with his son and trying to make it on his own, I could simply watch Jon Favreau make food for 114 minutes and we can call it a day. The filming of these sequences come through with so much care and a meticulous nature not too fine for the average person to do. Other chef films focus on the fine cuisine most people would not care to make at home, but this film displays some exquisite recipes one can easily make.
One of my favorite scenes comes from when Carl makes a grilled cheese sandwich for his son, and it taught me a brand new way to make this amazing meal. By the time he finished the sandwich, it looked like the best thing ever made because it infuses the art of making the food along with the care that comes with crafting something nurturing for your child. As the story shifts to Carl staying in Miami, it shows the entrepreneurial spirit of getting a broken-down truck and fixing it up to create the greatest sandwich of them all, the Cuban. After having a Cuban sandwich for the first time, I knew I never needed another sandwich again. The precision and care towards the making of the Cuban sandwiches show how something seen as street food can unite people in such a beautiful way.
While I would love to continue to salivate over the presentation of food in this film, it also takes on the idea of being authentic in one’s craft, how to handle criticism, and how social media has changed the game for connectivity. The reason Carl gets such a negative review arises from him being inauthentic by working at a restaurant unwilling to utilize his vision. He does not see this perspective at first and takes to social media to attack the critic. Obviously, that does not go in his favor, but social media becomes a major factor later when his Cuban sandwich food truck begins to expand. His tech-savvy son uses forms of marketing to bring them attention and they become a phenomenal traveling roadshow making food and driving their way back to Los Angeles.
The conflict in the film feels minimal because of the amount of love spewing out of these characters. After reviewing something as horrid as Burnt, where everyone hates the protagonist, it became refreshing to talk about a chef people actually like and respect. It makes it believable when others leave behind what they’re doing to join Carl in his food truck. Along for the ride with Jon Favreau is John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, and Bobby Cannavale. The fraternal love built between all of them makes you jealous because their characters have this ability to combine their gifts to create something special.
The story of Chef has its heartwarming elements, but the true beauty remains with the food. Jon Favreau clearly loves food with the way he puts together this film and he displays the power of cooking for another person. I guess it explains Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson portray the ex-wife and current girlfriend respectively in this feature. Food is the way to anyone’s heart, and the way the cooking sequences play out in this wonderful film will remind you of the value nutrition has in our enjoyment of life. I can almost guarantee this Chef will leave you hungry and most likely filled with the desire to look up your local Cuban restaurant to order that delicious sandwich.