Disclaimer: Do not go see this film on an empty stomach. Chef is full of food pornography and it will make you hungry.
Chef celebrated its world premiere at the SXSW Film festival on March 7th, opening night. Director/Writer/Lead Actor, Jon Favreau was in attendance along with other fellow co-stars (John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Emjay Anthony, and real life Chef and film correspondent, Roy Choi) for a Q&A following the film. Chef was a perfect opener for the festival. It’s a lighthearted “feel good” type of flick and some of it was filmed in Austin to boot.
Chef is a story about a renowned chef (played by Jon Favreau) whose creativity is being stifled by an L.A. restaurant owner, played by the brilliant Dustin Hoffman. After going to war through social media over a food critics’ (played by Oliver Platt) scathing review, Favreau’s character decides to leave the restaurant behind and explore the apparently generous world of Food Trucks. His ex-wife (Sofia Vergara from Modern Family) convinces him to take a trip with her and his son, (newcomer Emjay Anthony) to Miami in order to hook him up with her ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr.), who happens to have an abandoned food truck sitting behind his office building. After some awkward yet charming dialogue between the two men, Favreau’s character excepts the gift of the Food Cart from Robert Downey Jr.’s character and in one day transforms it into a Cuban Sandwich cash cow. Accompanied by his ten year old son (with whom he does not have a very strong relationship) and his right hand man (played by John Leguizam0), the three men embark on a trip back to L.A. with some familiar stops on the way, that’s right, ATX.
Chef has a lot of heart and Jon Favreau himself indicated that this film is personal for him as a writer. Chef also celebrates music and the love of food, which is obvious by all of the various scenes showing delicious lofromoking gourmet food being prepped and a musical guest appearance in the film by our very own, Gary Clark Jr. (he was also at the premiere). The story might be drawing personal parallels of Favreau in his film making career. From his early days with writing Swingers (1996) to directing the colossal Iron Man (2008), Favreau is returning to do what he seems to love, writing personal films. Is Chef a mind bending film? No, minus the fact that it depicts starting a Food Truck business to be a cinch; The truck is remodeled, stocked, and ready to go (permit and all) in just a day. If that’s how easy it is to start a food truck, sign me up. Chef is a great choice for SXSW and if you are a lover of food, it’s right up your alley.