Chef: Feel Good Food Porn


Photo by Merrick Morton via NY Post

After a long haul on the Marvel bandwagon, Jon Favreau decided to revisit his Indie roots and created Chef. His character, Carl Casper, was once a sensation in the Miami food scene, but after relocating to Los Angeles, he ends up working for the owner of a restaurant (Dustin Hoffman) who is hell-bent on “playing the hits” and stifling Casper’s creativity. Somewhere along the way, his wife (Sofia Vergara) divorces him and he becomes an absentee father.

Chef Casper serves up a boring menu to a popular food critic, who scorches him online. He tries to set up a rematch with a new and exciting menu but is once again squashed by his boss. Casper quits and buys a food truck in Miami. He travels from Miami to Los Angeles with his son, as well as his best friend (John Leguizamo), reclaiming his passion for cooking and rebuilding the relationship with his family.

While it starts slow and it’s not the most imaginative story, it was the epitome of a feel good movie. Between the hilarious script and the soundtrack that had my toes tapping nonstop, there was a smile on my face the entire time.

Chef is best seen on a full stomach, as the amount of glorious food that is shown borders on the obscene. I’m still salivating over that grilled cheese with that sensational crunch of perfectly browned bread and five types of cheese melted to perfection still hanging in my memory…

One of the film’s strengths was that it just felt real. Chef Casper’s struggles were relatable emotionally as many people struggle to balance their personal and professional lives, as well as struggle to stoke the fire of their passions while answering to the more conservative limits of “the man.”

While I typically cringe at blatant product placement, the use of Twitter was smartly done. Social media is the most obvious way these days to make or break a career. In the beginning, Casper almost lost his credibility by starting a Twitter war, but then his son turned it around in his favor as it brought in customers to the food truck. The experience of watching Casper and his son bond over it struck an emotional cord that wouldn’t have occurred even five years ago.

It was disappointing to see Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson get top billing over John Leguizamo. His character, Martin, was steady throughout the whole movie, providing comedic relief or adoring sidekick moments as needed. Downey and Johansson’s roles were glorified cameos (and honestly, unnecessary). As much as I love Downey, his character made no sense and his awkward 10-minute scene failed to capture the Swingers-like dialogue they were going for.

Chef, as enjoyable as it was, is probably best seen on the small screen. Save your money for X-Men, but don’t forget to put this in your Netflix queue.

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Susan Galeone

Full-time book editor, part-time nerd / writer / amateur photographer / philomath
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