Chef (2014)

Chef poster

If you go to a restaurant for many years, you’ll certainly notice some changes in the menu. Most of the food will be the same that you and many others would expect, but sometimes there’s also some exotic looking food there too. Anything new can be scary, especially when it’s food that looks like a work of art. Well, that’s exactly what it is and the chefs are the artists. The passion they put into their food is to ensure that we are rewarded with taste and presentation, while also being their way to express their creativity. Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it looks more presentable than you.

It is... It really is..
It is… It really is..

Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is an artist of the culinary sorts and his work is truly beautiful. Aided by his sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale) and other chef assistant, Martin (John Leguizamo), Carl serves up delicious dishes at his place of work. When an important food critic (Olvier Platt) comes to review his restaurant, Carl wants to deviate from the menu and make great food. Unfortunately, his hard-ass boss (Dustin Hoffman) isn’t having any of that and forces him to stick to the menu. After a bad review and a war on Twitter (which Carl barely knows how to use), Carl explodes on the critic and a video of it goes viral.

At the home of his ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara), Carl’s son Percy (Emjay Anthony) is just wishing that he could see his dad more. They hangout off-and-on, but they never talk much and always do the same things. With Carl out of a job, his girlfriend Molly (Scarlett Johansson) and Inez both encourage him to do what he loves with the food he wants and to make a difference in the lives of others, and in the life of his son. Even if that means chasing a crazy dream cooking in the back of a food truck. By his side, Carl employs Martin and his son, in hopes to form better relationships with them and show them who he really is. Its gonna take great food and social media to get things running, so hopefully the socially-inept chef can figure something out!

The socially inept Chef makes a bad call.
The socially inept Chef makes a bad call.

Chef is a wonderfully delightful new film directed and written by Jon Favreau. Not only does it evoke immense hunger as you watch delicious food being cooked and served, but it also strikes a lot of familial chords. It’s a film that wakes you up and reminds you that nothing feels better than doing what you’re passionate about and with a lovely cast at hand, Chef certainly entertains on numerous levels. Everyone’s said it after watching the film and I cannot emphasize enough that you shouldn’t go see this film on an empty stomach. With such an all-around good-looking cast, it’s incredible how much more beautiful the food is.

Jon Favreau is one of the most versatile director/writers out there and his films are all so different in many ways. A great element of humor can be found in all of his films and they all tend to center around a somewhat broken character looking for repairs. With Chef, Favreau explores the world of the chefs and the craftsmanship they display in the art form they love. His character is equally lovable as he is flawed and watching him grow throughout the film is wonderful. He’s funny when he needs to be, but his realistic views of the world and separation from his son really bring forth a lot of great emotion from Favreau. It’s a role that won’t necessarily define him, but it’s certainly going to standout as one of his greatest. Not to mention he wrote a brilliant script and his directorial eye is fun and extremely engaging.

Carl shows Percy some real food.
Carl shows Percy some real food.

Outshining the rest of the supporting cast, John Leguizamo really brings a lot to the table with his quality humor and perfect timing. He can read the room and play off of everyone around him with unbelievable ease. Sofia Vergara, known for that thick Columbian accent and somewhat playing the same character, gets a very emotional and down-to-earth role that certainly surprised me. While their roles were minor, Johansson, Canavale, and Robert Downey Jr. (who has a small cameo of sorts) all succeeded in entertaining with the limited time they had. Each offering something different, they interact well with Favreau and help move the story along. Emjay Anthony was adorable and his relationship with Favreau really grows on you.

Chef, like many films as of late, smartly plays off of the role of Social Media in today’s society and uses it in the most interesting and effective ways. Twitter takes center stage as the cause of a lot of good and bad things for Favreau, as he’s technologically inept and doesn’t entirely know what everything means. However, despite the online reputation he gets because of his outburst, social media helps him sell his food and make it known that he’s not giving up. A Facebook page helps people keep track of his life and business. It’s all used in the manner you’d hope a business would use it and it pays off greatly. I absolutely love the pop-up tweets used throughout the film and they add some flair to the film.

Chef, Percy, and Martin make some truly great food.
Chef, Percy, and Martin make some truly great food.

If you can manage to stop ogling at the gorgeous display of food that is always present, you’ll appreciate the story and even come to realize that it applies to your own life. Maybe you’re not a chef, but one should always take pride in and defend what they love. No matter what you’re doing, you should always be in the mindset of doing it because it’s what you’re really passionate about. Forget the naysayers and get over your own worries. You’ll never be truly happy until you put yourself out there and explore the world, while also showing off what you’re great at. This message hit home with me and at times, this film was really inspirational. Leave it to Favreau to touch your heart and your stomach at the same time.

There was never a moment where I was bored or uninterested in this film. It’s visually appealing, well-acted, well-written, well-directed, and always serving up fresh situations. Nothing comes easy to the characters in this film and a lot of work goes into self-belief and the realization of what’s important for a happy life and because of that, this film resonated on a high level with me. Jon Favreau has a knack for creating enjoyable films that are somewhat different from the typical Hollywood films. I applaud him for making a passion project that seemed out of his wheelhouse and I’m so thankful that it paid off for him. Chef is a film that should not be passed up, just like a medium-rare steak that’s cooked to perfection.

Chef Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgFws3AoIUY

4.5 STARS!!!

4.5 / 5 stars     

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