Chef follows a chef who feels stifled when the owner of the restaurant where he works forces him to cook a boring, predictable menu instead of a creative one on an important night when a particular food blogger will be there. He does it, gets a bad review and begins a Twitter war with the food blogger eventually leading to his quitting, having a breakdown and opening a food truck selling Cuban sandwiches.
The movie is full of A-list actors: Dustin Hoffman plays the restaurant owner; Scarlett Johansson is the hostess; John Leguizamo is the sous chef; Bobby Cannavale is a chef; Sofia Vergara is the ex-wife; Amy Sedaris, a publicist; Oliver Platt, the food blogger; and Robert Downey, Jr., Sofia’s ex-husband and benefactor of the food truck. Jon Favreau plays the title character.
Chef has a slow start, as it takes too much time to get to the heart of the story–the food truck. I also couldn’t understand the purpose of Scarlett Johansson’s character, as she is a love interest in the beginning of the movie but never seen again once Chef creates his food truck. And John Leguizamo’s character? Really? He jumps ship after becoming sous chef to work for free in a food truck? The movie is cute and does explore some interesting issues, especially the role of social media in making or breaking a chef’s career. And that food bloggers can have a great impact. However, I found this too unrealistic, as is the ending. It was too happy Hollywood for me, and I expected more from an independent film. I do want to give props to the cameraman for great cooking scenes. The grilled cheese sandwich looks amazing, as does most of the food Jon Favreau is cooking. Favreau wrote the script and consulted with Roy Choi of Kogi Korean BBQ food truck fame, who eventually became a co-producer of the film.