Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chef - even better than expected

Movie Poster
Image from Wikipedia
by student blogger Emilio

I knew I was predisposed to like Jon Favreau’s movie Chef simply based on the title and topic, but I was actually pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up liking it. Favreau wrote, directed and starred in the film as the main character, Carl Casper – a chef who made a name for himself in his hometown of Miami by cooking adventurous food but ends up in a culinary rut as the executive chef of a more conservative French restaurant in Los Angeles. After getting blasted by a critic for serving uninspired food, Casper walks out after the owner of the restaurant demands he cook the food from the menu instead of creating newer, more interesting dishes.

Casper goes on to start a food truck that serves primarily “Cubanos” or Cuban sandwiches along with accompaniments, food that tied him back to his origins in Miami. He then proceeds to drive the truck back to LA from Miami along with his friend and sous chef, Martin (John Leguizamo), and son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). What could have easily turned into a romance movie involving either Casper's ex-wife, Inez (Sofía Vergara), or girlfriend, Molly (Scarlett Johansson), instead takes a different direction and focuses on the connection and memory making between father and son as they traveled from Miami to New Orleans to Austin to LA while eating and making delicious food.

Roy Choi coaching Jon Favreau
The transformation of fine dining chef to food truck chef is one that might be familiar, particularly to CIA students. Roy Choi, an alum of the CIA, had worked in restaurants across the country, including Le Bernardin, before opening Kogi, a food truck serving Korean barbecue tacos. There are now four Kogi trucks, each with a unique name. Choi started as a consultant for the movie but eventually became a co-producer. Choi served as a coach for Favreau as well as helping with the restaurant and food truck design, menu design, helping with the script, and anything that related to food. Choi was more than happy to be involved but only if there was a commitment to getting the details surrounding the kitchen and food truck and the general “chef life” correct, which I feel like they did a great job with. Choi went as far as sending Favreau to a local culinary school as well as training him at his own restaurants. This helped give Chef a stronger sense of authenticity for people more familiar with what professional cooking actually looks like.
L to R: Emjay Anthony, John Leguizamo, Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara

Chef ended up being more than a fluffy, happy and star-studded movie with scenes of food porn but instead a rather touching and hilarious journey of a man connecting with his son. The movie was surprisingly funny and with a commendable soundtrack that I have all intentions of acquiring for personal listening. It goes without saying that I will be first in line to purchase this movie once it is released in a purchasable format. I would recommend this movie to anyone, but even more so to any student of the CIA, especially with its connection to our school.

Watching the movie in the Marriott Pavilion about two weeks before it opened to the public was pretty neat also. Favreau even said a few words live over Skype as well answer a few students’ questions. It seemed that making this movie as well as training with Choi has really awakened a passion for cooking for him, which is exciting. Although I have no plans of starting a food truck of my own, simply seeing cooking portrayed pretty well on the big screen gets me excited to get into the industry. 

1 comment:

  1. I'd rather they get quality movies from streaming channels instead of splurging on brand new ones, there are lots of great movies they don't have and a lot of terrible ones they do have. Very helpful for people looking further on this.