New Comedy ‘Chef’ Is About Fatherhood, Food, And Social Media

Above: Jon Favreau's latest directorial endeavor, Chef
Above: Jon Favreau's latest directorial endeavor, Chef

New comedy Chef is the latest from writer-director Jon Favreau, who has returned to his indie roots. While Chef isn’t going to blow you away, or have you pissing your pants in laughing hysterics, just like good food, it’s going to leave you satisfied.

The feel-good story about a once-acclaimed Los Angeles chef, Carl Casper (played by Favreau himself) who is struggling to find happiness and maintain relevancy in the culinary world. Casper was once known for his inventive and unique food, a maverick of the cooking world, but now held prisoner by his high-end restaurant owner boss (Dustin Hoffman) who won’t let Carl cook what he wants. While the restaurant is hugely popular, the food is safe. The final straw in Casper’s demise at the high-end restaurant is when popular food blogger, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), who was also a early champion of Carl’s, writes a horrible and defaming review about Carl’s cooking and his long-removal from his glory cooking days. This leads to an ensuing Twitter battle between Carl and the blogger, which shows us the power of social media in business and helps set the stage for one of the movie’s strongest themes. Ultimately, Carl quits and is forced to re-invent himself. Despite Carl’s career crisis, he has an ex-wife that still supports and believes him (played by Sofia Vergera) and a sort-of girlfriend, Molly (Scarlett Johansson) who thinks he’s pretty great, as well as a son, Percy (Emjay Anthony) who adores him, even though he’s been far from father of the year.

Then on a trip to Miami, and with pressure from his ex-wife, Carl takes on an old abandoned food truck as an opportunity to get back to the simple pleasures of food, like Cuban sandwiches. This serves as the perfect redemption plan for Carl and a way to restore happiness and get back in touch with his true love of food. So Carl, Percy, and Carl’s fast-talking right-hand man, Martin (brilliantly played by John Leguizamo), head off on a road trip with the food truck from Miami to LA to make great sandwiches and summer memories. Their food truck business begins to boom, as Percy’s knowledge of social media and Carl’s Internet popularity (from his food blogger sparring) help to build them a large fan base wherever they go, which brings Carl and Percy closer, as well as restore Carl’s happiness.

While Chef is intended to be a food comedy, it’s about much more than just laughs and food. It’s about a man trying to find a connection and build a relationship with his son, as well as a man’s journey to find real happiness. It’s also about the power of food-centric social media and generally, about the power of social media in business.

Chef is full of southern culture, with a soundtrack that features Cuban and New Orleans jazz and Texas blues, as well as hilarious cameos from Robert Downey Jr. and Amy Sedaris. Jon Favreau is also rock-solid in the title role, with a script that is adeptly observant as it tackles the Generation Z upbringing in an Internet and social media crazed environment.

Chef is in theatres across the country now.

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