Chef (movie review)

Chef is a film that fills me with joy. The food is gorgeous, the music is superb, the characters are (mostly) likeable and this redemption story is neatly presented. This movie is a good time.

Jon Favreau is the cinematic chef for this delicious entrée. He wrote it. He directed it. And he stars as chef Carl Casper, a man with a passion for cooking.

In Chef, the Los Angeles restaurant where Carl cooks is about to get a visit from noted food blogger Ramsay Michel (Oliver Platt). Carl is ready to prepare a creative menu when the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman) intercedes and orders Carl to cook the same menu the restaurant has featured (successfully) for a decade.

When Michel rips Carl for serving the same old same old, Carl is upset. When he sees that Michel’s slam has been shared on Twitter, he replies obscenely, not knowing how Twitter works. (In real life Favreau is a Twitter master with 1.71 million followers.)

Carl asks for a re-do and invites Michel to come back and let him cook what he wanted to cook in the first place. The owner steps in again and says no, causing Carl to walk out. But he walks back in during dinner service, and launches into a dining room tirade against the critic that is captured on iPhones and shared across the internet.

Any creative person who’s every wanted to rip into a critic for knocking their work, but had the self-control to resist, can appreciate watching Carl rage out of control.

With his career wrecked after this fit of anger, his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) invites him to join her and their son Percy (Emjay Anthony) in Miami. Shortly after arriving, Carl visits Inez’ previous ex-husband Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.) who gifts Carl with a commercial van that he converts into a food truck.

With an assist from his LA kitchen staffer Martin (John Leguizamo) he equips the truck and begins selling Cuban sandwiches on South Beach. Along with Percy, they take the truck to acknowledged food meccas New Orleans and Austin, before coming home to LA and a storybook ending.

Scarlett Johansson appears as the LA restaurant’s hostess and Carl’s girlfriend. Russell Peters has a funny turn as a Miami cop who wants to take selfies galore with Carl and his food truck crew.

For foodies and those in the food and beverage industry, Chef is a “must see.” Favreau shows great respect for those who cook in Chef. He captures the passion that the best chefs (and kitchen staffs) bring to work every day and night. Impressively, he has good knife skills. That’s no stunt double chopping carrots.

Chef gets a special commendation, too, for getting social media right. Twitter helped bring about Carl Casper’s downfall. And, as anyone who owns a food truck will confirm, Twitter is a valuable tool for telling people where you’ll be parked and serving next. Young Percy is the chef’s social media guru whose Twitter savvy brings crowds to the truck’s windows as soon as they open. Twitter giveth and Twitter taketh away, as Chef clearly shows.

I promise that if you see Chef on an empty stomach, you’ll leave hungry. And I bet you will also walk out happy. Chef is a tasty treat. Savor it!

 

 

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FREE Beer???

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Regulations prohibit Ryan and Brandon Nickelson (pictured below), owners of the new Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton, from saying that they are giving away free beer.

Ryan and Brandon

However, they will be giving away a free gift to their first 1,000 customers who make a purchase when they open to the public on Saturday, May 17, at 10:00 a.m. And, if those gifts are like the ones handed out to those who attended a preview event this week—and the rumor is they will be—each gift will include a six-pack of various beers.

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The store, located at 8113 Maryland Avenue in Clayton, offers a huge variety of craft beers. St. Louis beers—Schlafly, 4 Hands, Six Row, Urban Chestnut, etc.—are represented prominently. Among the other beers at the Craft Beer Cellar are these pictured below.

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A couple of brands you won’t find at the Craft Beer Cellar are Goose Island and Blue Moon. While Brandon and Ryan don’t mean any disrespect to those beers, they don’t fit the definition of “craft” beer that they go by. (In fact, you won’t find any A-B or MillerCoors beers in the store.)

But it’s not likely that you’ll walk out without finding a beer, or several, to take home. As mentioned, the choices are immense. And, along with Ryan and Brandon, their team is well-informed and enthusiastic about craft beer. If you ask for guidance or a recommendation, you’ll get it.

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If you, like my friend Cindy Collins of KLOU radio (pictured above), enjoy craft beer, you may want to check out the Craft Beer Cellar. And do it Saturday. You just might get some free beer!

Click HERE to visit their Facebook page.

More Movies About Food Coming!

The new trailer for the upcoming film The Hundred-Foot Journey has just been released today. It stars Helen Mirren as the owner of a fine dining restaurant in the French countryside.

All is going well until an Indian family opens a competing restaurant right across the street. Click to watch.

Scheduled release date for The Hundred-Foot Journey is August 8.

Meanwhile, the new Jon Favreau film Chef opened last Friday in NY and LA. It is set to open in St. Louis on Friday, May 23. Click to watch the trailer for Chef.

The LA Times gave Chef a positive review. Click HERE to read it.