Chef is the story of a dad, his son and a food truck. When the credits roll, you’ll find yourself craving a Cubano.
Writer/director Jon Favreau stars as Chef Carl Casper, a Food & Wine Best New Chef winner whose talent has been going to waste in the kitchen of a trendy restaurant for the past 10 years. After inadvertently starting a Twitter feud with local food critic
His plan after that? Get a run-down food truck from his ex-wife’s ex-husband, clean it up, name it El Jefe and travel cross-country making sandwiches with his son. Like you do. Robert Downey Jr. plays Marvin the ex-husband, who is secretly Tony Stark undercover. (This is never stated outright as such, but come on. Also, I’d love to see how Iron Man would trick out a food truck.)
If there’s one message to take away from Chef, it’s to figure out what it is you love to do and spend your life doing it. If there’s a second message, it's that only good things will happen if you let your 11-year-old have unsupervised free reign of social media. At one stop, Carl is surprised to find people lining up for El Jefe, but it turns out Percy (Emjay Anthony) has started a Facebook page and been tweeting their location while they’re out on the open road.
A movie about a chef would be incomplete without some food porn. There are the Cubanos, of course, as well as some beautiful brisket right out of the Franklin Barbecue smoker and a grilled cheese that involves roughly the equivalent of an entire Trader Joe’s cheese case. It’s debatable what the hottest thing in the movie is — the sandwiches or Scarlett Johansson eating pasta. (It’s Scarlett. Trust me. Super foxy.)
Chef is kind of like a grown-up Swingers, which Favreau also wrote and starred in. It’s got a loose, shaggy charm as Carl sets out to change the course of his life by literally cooking his way across America.
Anyone involved in creative pursuits will get a vicarious thrill from Carl’s back and forth with the food critic. Plus, Favreau has a kid drop an f-bomb, which is always comedy gold. The soundtrack’s vintage Latin tracks are pretty tasty, too.
Even if the movie hadn’t turned out this deliciously fun, just making it would have a been win since Favreau got to prepare for the shoot by picking up some skills working the line on a Kogi BBQ food truck. Stick around through the credits for a couple of expert sandwich making pointers from Kogi’s Chef Roy Choi, the movie’s technical advisor and a Food & Wine 2010 Best New Chef.
And seriously, before you see it, do yourself a favor and make sure you know where the nearest Cuban joint is for afterward.
Chef opens today at theatres in Kansas City. I give it three out of four hot wings. (That’s the Lunch Blog movie rating scale.)