Last night we watched “Chef” with Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, and Sofia Vergara. If you are into serious food porn this is the movie for you.
It’s about Carl Casper, a Los Angeles chef that confronts a famous food critic after he gives him a poor review. Naturally his meltdown occurs when the restaurant is completely full, so everyone films his tantrum with their cell phone and uploads it to You Tube where it goes VIRAL.
Next thing you know (surprise!) he’s out of a job, broke and depressed. His ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) convinces him to fly to Miami with her and their son so they can eat cuban sandwiches and listen to her father (Tito Puente) play bootie shaking latin music.
She also wants Carl to watch their son while she works – because he doesn’t have a job! They seem to gloss over what exactly she does for a living, but it involves bringing in some serious coin. Of course you and I know it’s simply a ruse on her part because she wants Carl and Percy (seriously? Percy?) to “bond” during this time, because Carl has been too busy being a famous chef and not pulling in enough hours being a good father.
But I digress. After the family gets their Latin groove on, they all go out for a late night supper at an authentic Cuban restaurant where they are served (wait for it…) cuban sandwiches. After one bite Carl gets an epiphany. Maybe Inez is right. Maybe he should open up a food truck. Maybe he should serve Cuban sandwiches! Now all Carl needs is a food truck.
This of course provides the perfect opportunity for Robert Downey Jr. to makes a brief appearance as Inez’s very rich, and somewhat smarmy ex-husband. For reasons unclear to me, he gives Carl a broken down taco truck that is in desperate need of pretty much everything.
Moments later, Inez shows up with Percy in tow because she has to work, and Carl is supposed to be watching Percy. What ensues is the pivotal part of the story. Father and son bond while cleaning the truck and shopping for kitchen supplies. Carl even buys Percy his very first (extremely sharp) chef knife, because apparently that is what Chef’s who are bonding with their sons do.
Every story needs a wise-cracking sidekick, so Martin (John Leguizamo), Carl’s former line chef, arrives to help his pal run his fledgling business. And who wouldn’t rather sweat over a hot grill in a cramped food truck rather than work in a swanky LA restaurant? And so the adventure begins! Carl and Martin craft the perfect cuban sandwich, while 10-year old Percy (a social media prodigy) broadcasts their locations across the country via Twitter, Facebook, and Vine, whipping local foodies into a frenzy.
They stop in New Orleans and eat beignet’s (Carl finally makes good on his promise to take Percy there) and spend lots of time on Congress Avenue in Austin, where Franklin’s Barbecue is showcased (Let’s make brisket sliders!) They eventually end up back in LA where long lines of adoring fans clamor for cuban sandwiches!
Of course the story comes full circle and we meet the much-hated food critic, who now adores Carl’s food. I’m not going to tell you how it ends because you have to be surprised for the last 5 minutes of the movie, but I can assure you, there is a happy ending. I heartily recommend you hit the Red Box, or put this on your Netflix Que with one caveat. Make sure you eat dinner first, because the food preparation and cooking scenes will make you hungry.