With an all-star cast, “Chef” centers on the once-celebrated chef Carl Casper(Jon Favreau, director of the Iron Man series), who is ordered by the owner (Dustin Hoffman) to preserve the status quo: a predictable menu the customers want. “No one goes to a Rolling Stone’s concert not expecting to hear ‘Satisfaction’.” The boss commands Carl to play to his strengths, because business is business. When a famous food critic (the ever-appealing Oliver Platt) dismisses the menu as tired and yesteryear, the conflict boils over into a confrontational fist-fight, gone viral. Chef Carl’s passion for trendy and innovative food, and his sense of pride, won’t let him stay.
Unsure of how to reclaim his passion for food and maintain an amiable relationship with Inez, his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara, the sexy star of “Modern Family”) and his young son, Percy (the amazing newcomer Emjay Anthony), he starts a food truck business. Another ex-husband of Inez (Robert Downey Jr. the Iron Man himself), helps finance the food truck for the down-and-out Chef. Carl’s former restaurant’s hostess (Scarlett Johansson) also encourages him to follow his dream.
What follows is an unorthodox road trip with a fellow restaurant worker, a Cuban American (John Leguizamo,) and the twelve-year old tech-savvy Percy, who videos the fast-food orders of Cuban-style food and tweets so that foodies can find his father’s food truck’s location (like the famous Kogi truck in LA, a model for this movie!)
The connection of food to family is truly delicious in its own way. While “Chef” is certainly a feast for the senses, it’s the theme about restoration– restoring the father-son relationship– and restoring passion–that are the pivotal scenes in this film.
“Chef” is a familiar recipe with great ingredients, enjoyable for almost anyone not expecting an “art film”. An entertaining, humorous movie that hooked this viewer, “Chef” is hard to resist: pairing of sumptuous shots of food porn with sensual Latin music. You can almost smell what’s cooking, and all I could think of was what I was going to eat for dinner afterwards. This film is more than food porn–it is a recipe for fun!