Chef [REVIEW]

Chef's Food Truck

Chef, now playing in cinemas, is a real treat, from start to finish.

Jon Favreau, who also wrote, produced and directed, plays Carl Casper, a chef in a popular Los Angeles restaurant. He's in control of his kitchen, and proud of the food that he makes for his customers. However, one day a restaurant critic (Oliver Platt, who actually looks like a restaurant critic), eats in the restaurant and proceeds to give it a bad review, lambasting Casper's cooking, Not happy with this, Casper, at the urging of his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), opens an account on Twitter and starts tweeting bad things about the critic, picking up hundreds of followers in the meantime.

Casper decides to give it another go with the critic, so via Twitter he invites him to the restaurant to eat a new menu he plans to prepare. However, this doesn't go well with the owner of the restaurant (Dustin Hoffman), who says they will stick to the menu they've got, and that if Casper doesn't like it, he can walk away. Casper does walk away, much to the dismay to the rest of the restaurant staff, including Martin (a very well-cast John Leguizamo) and sous chef, Tony (Bobby Cannavale).

But Casper can't stay away from the restaurant for two reasons: he's dating the restaurant's hostess (an unglamorous Scarlett Johansson), and he feels the needs to get even with the restaurant critic. So Casper decides to go to the restaurant the same night the critic is there, and, in front of all the customers and staff, yells at him and tells him he doesn't know what good food is. After his rant, he is banned from the restaurant forever.

Deciding what to do next, besides spending lots of time with his son, his ex-wife Inez (an always good Sofia Vergara, who's becoming quite the screen goddess) urges him to come with her and their son to Miami while she is on a business trip, to take some time away and mellow out. While there, he comes up with the idea of a new business — a food truck selling Cuban food. He buys a run down and dirty food truck, and with the help of his son, fixes it up and calls it El Jefe. Martin flies in and wants to be a part of the new business, so together they create delicious Cuban food, especially Cubanos — a Cuban Sandwich of cheese and ham. With his son, they take the food truck on a road trip back to Los Angeles, stopping in various cities along the way. Thanks to his son, they have quite a following on Twitter and Instagram, and with social media, they pick up loads of customers along with way, with queues stretching down blocks in every city. Arriving back in Los Angeles, they're a hit, and have a new business.

While the story of Chef is very predictable and could've been guessed without me revealing it, it's the food that plays a starring role in the film. Beginning in the restaurant, to Casper making delicious meals at his home, the food looks vibrant, succulent, and delicious. And the Cuban sandwiches want to make you have one after the movie, so if anyone knows where I can get one in London, please write in.

The cast is very good, and credit is due to Favreau, who wore four hats in the movie (five if you count his cooking in the film, at least I presume it was him cooking), and for turning what is a simple film into such a delight. The rest of the cast is fine, with Leguizamo and Vergara bringing a va-va-va-voom Latin spice to the movie. All in all, Chef is a pretty good movie.

Go and see it, and then go out to eat.