When I saw the trailer of Jon Favreau’s Chef, I didn’t really get into it. I am not much of a cook. So I thought it would be hard for me to relate to a cook movie. But Trisha talked me into it and I was being adventurous.
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau – director and lead) is a celebrity chef in a chic restaurant in Los Angeles. He is a god in the kitchen. He goes to the farmers market, picks out ingredients with loving attention and takes them back to the restaurant, where he builds his culinary creations around the ingredients he has.
Watching him at his art is amazing. And it’s not just the cooking, the chopping, the presentation of the food on the plate, it’s also the way he handles his staff, from his assistants to the waiters and dishwashers, that shows him as a master. This is a man who loves what he does, and everyone around him loves him for it.
Except Riva (Dustin Hoffman) the owner of the restaurant and his employer. It is the biggest night of Carls career: Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), a national food critic, announces his visit to the restaurant so he can write an online review that is read by millions. Carl prepares for a tour de force of a dinner that night. At the last minute, Riva comes into the kitchen, tells Carl to make sure to cook the regular menu. There is a confrontation that Carl can’t win. The online review the next day is crushing.
Carl’s personal life is already in shambles. His young son Percy (Emjay Anthony) adores him, and while he tries hard to be a good father, he can’t find the time to devote to him to grow their relationship. After a second confrontation with Riva, Carl walks out of his job with the intention of following his old dream: Running a food truck.
Thus the adventure starts. He flies to Miami to find a fixer-upper, rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.
Chef is a feel-good movie. I loved seeing a master in his field practice his craft. The story is predictable, but warm and rewarding. There are no villains in this story, just life, with its endless challenges, and the small flaws of the characters themselves.
Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 4)