How To Become A Chef

I just saw a great indie movie, Chef, written by and starring Jon Favreau (known for Swingers, the Break Up, Very Bad Things, and more). I recommend it highly. This one has got to be among his best and also features a stunning Sophia Vergara and a happy-go-lucky John Leguizamo who pines to be a sous-chef. Bobby Cannivale makes a good foil for Favreau in the beginning whose inability to follow his heart serves as a great contrast and object lesson to us all about compromise and cowardice.

If you can get a wife like Sophia in all her Latina beauty, by all means become a chef – at once! They are divorced, but not for long in this fairy tale about cooking what you really love and finding your way back to your true unrealized ambition. They have a ten-year-old son who has been neglected by the overworked dad who has to submit to the dictates of his grumpy boss played by Dustin Hoffman. The chef is restricted in his creativity and ultimately receives a very poor critical rating from the top restaurant reviewer in L.A. He is more than devastated. A video of their fight goes viral making Favreau a national hero and celebrity. Who doesn’t identify with a free spirit like him and a man of conviction.

When Favreau loses his job after walking out angrily one night, he is forced to face his real work needs and goes on the road in a refurbished food truck with sous-chef (Leguizamo) who bolts from Hoffman’s restaurant the first chance he gets. He knows his friend the chef is the best, especially in the area of authentic Cubano cooking. After a stint in Miami to get the truck shiny clean, loaded up with all the kitchen appliances you’d ever need and newly painted, the two head back to California with the son in tow. They adapt the food to each location including New Orleans (beignets and po-boys) and Texas (barbecue what else). Twitter and Facebook bring legions to each stop who wait patiently in line for the culinary treasures. Here is a big message about publicity, success, and the role of social media.

The boy learns to cook and acquires great lessons in life about self-reliance, the importance of quality work, and most of all camaraderie. Many humorous scenes populate the winning film. It is a joyous road buddy road movie of the best kind with superb close ups of gorgeous food (and Sophia) that you can practically smell and taste as you sit rapt in the movie theater. You may never have heard of some of tis exotic food, but you are dying for some. (By the way, Scarlett Johansson as the restaurant hostess is not chopped liver!)

They all end up back home with pride and glory and end up opening a restaurant with co-partner food critic (played amiably by Oliver Platt). It is a very happy ending to a sweet morality tale about loving your work, finding yourself at last, and learning to survive on your own terms.