Jon Favreau’s latest movie, “Chef,” is opening today in San Antonio, offering some fine cinematic fare food-lovers should enjoy.
It’s not without its flaws — some characters are cliched and the storyline is often predictable. This doesn’t mean “Chef” isn’t enjoyable. The kitchen scenes, replete with bandaged burns and cut fingers, lots of bro horseplay and language, do show the realities of preparing food — even bad restaurant food — for crowds. The film also gives us a stereotypical overbearing owner (Dustin Hoffman) to hate and a wonderful performance by Emjay Anthony as Casper’s 11-year-old son, Percy. It is Percy who introduces Casper to the perils of Twitter and handy aspects of other social media — some of funniest parts of the movie — while his obvious yearning for connection with his dad tugs at the heart.
The story: Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) loudly quits his restaurant job in Los Angeles for not wanting to make French onion soup and molten lava cake, etc., for a food blogger/critic; chef throws self-indulgent tantrum in the dining room telling food critic how much criticism hurts; chef buys a food truck in Miami with help from his ex’s rich and eccentric first husband, a hilarious cameo by Robert Downey Jr.; and finally, Casper reconnects with son, himself and maybe even his sultry (and kind) ex, the lovely Sofia Vergara.
Kitchen scenes are pretty realistic — women aren’t included. Female roles in this movie are relegated to cheerleaders and moral (and financial) supporters. Also, we’d mention that no self-respecting food critic announces to a chef when they are planning a serious review visit. Seriously.
The film also offers fabulous shots of food, notably the spread the Casper prepares in his (dumpy) apartment after he quits; the creation of his food truck Cuban sandwiches. Watching Casper’s face as he slices off bits of a lovely roast pork with faithful co-cook and friend, played by John Leguizamo, makes you want to reach out and get a slice.
You’ll appreciate that an actor took the time to learn to slice with a chef’s knife real fast. And, enjoy all of the stops the El Jefe Cubanos food truck makes on its way back to LA from Miami, including one at Franklin Barbecue in Austin. The music is great, too.
“Chef” has some good scenes, food scenes and laughs, as well as an interesting twist at the end, which we certainly won’t divulge here.
“Chef” is playing at the Bijou, Alamo Drafthouse Park North and more. Check listings for times and places.