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Five Views: Chef

June 6, 2014

Chef Poster

Chef – A VVS Films Release
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
Rated 14A for coarse language and substance abuse
Running time: 115 minutes

Jon Favreau (dir.)

Jon Favreau (writer)

Jose C. Hernandez (music)

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper
John Leguizamo as Martin
Bobby Cannavale as Tony
Emjay Anthony as Percy
Scarlett Johansson as Molly
Dustin Hoffman as Riva
Sofía Vergara as Inez
Oliver Platt as Ramsey Michel
Amy Sedaris as Jen
Robert Downey Jr. as Marvin


©VVS Films. All Rights Reserved.
Martin (John Leguizamo), Percy (Emjay Anthony) and Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) in Chef.

Our reviews below:


Chef Review By John Corrado

***1/2 (out of 4)

The story of Chef could be seen as a deeply personal allegory for Jon Favreau’s own filmmaking career, a return to his independent roots after helming good blockbusters like the first two Iron Man films.  I like the actor and director in both modes, but it’s nice to see him bouncing back with such a delightful and heartfelt little film.

Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is the head chef at a popular Los Angeles restaurant, forced to cook a menu that is approved by the owner (Dustin Hoffman).  When this leads to a social media firestorm with a disappointed food critic (Oliver Platt), he walks out of the kitchen and quits his job.  Finding himself in a creative rut, his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) invites him to Miami with their son Percy (Emjay Anthony), where she finally convinces Carl to purchase a refurbished food truck.

When they hit the road with his buddy Martin (John Leguizamo) in tow, the authentic Cuban food that they serve becomes a sensation, and the trip allows Carl to bond with Percy over their shared love of cooking and eating.  With food playing such a prominent role in the story, the gorgeous cinematography of sizzling grills and elaborate meals being prepared are guaranteed to make you hungry, and this is easily the best food movie since Ratatouille.

There are so many wonderful moments in Chef, and the entire ensemble cast is excellent.  Jon Favreau makes for an appealing every man who gets our sympathy, and he has wonderful chemistry with Emjay Anthony, a bright newcomer who is one of the most charming child actors in recent memory.  John Leguizamo turns in some delightful supporting work, and there are also memorable appearances from Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. during a few pivotal scenes.

The script has some smart commentary about Twitter and social media in general, and the profound effect that the harsh words of a critic can have on the career of a struggling artist.  The soundtrack is also great, a memorably upbeat collection of songs that give Chef the feeling of summer.  This is a feel good comedy with a sweet story about father and son bonding, that is just as satisfying as a great meal and left me with a big smile on my face.


Chef Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Chef tells the story of Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), who came onto the culinary scene years before, with great reviews about his passion and creativity.  Now working at a restaurant, he is feeling stifled by having to cook the same menu day in, day out.  When this leads to a bad review from a famous food critic, who calls him essentially a sell-out to his own skills, Carl takes it on himself to respond via Twitter, without realizing that his rebuttal is made public, which leads to a whole mess on social media, and him being fired from his job.  Striking out on his own, Carl realizes that maybe it’s time to reconnect with his roots as a chef and spend some more time with his young son (Emjay Anthony).

The film is filled with gorgeous and delicious looking dishes and filmed with a sense of a love of food.  The strong cast make the film feel very real and genuine.  Overall, Chef is just a wonderful little film that is funny, charming, and a nice change of pace for a night at the cinema.  During the end credits we are also treated to a behind-the-scenes look at Favreau being shown exactly how to cook like a real chef – even when making grilled cheese.


Chef Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Chef is a sweet comedy about the value of family.  The star of the story, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a down on his luck restaurant chef living in L.A.  He is also a divorced dad who doesn’t spend enough time with his 10-year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony).  But things really start to go bad when picky food blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) pans the place.  Things get even worse when Carl starts a Twitter war with Ramsey, finally erupting into an infamous full blown outburst.  But the fallout brings Carl closer to Percy, and things evolve in a way that works out for everyone.

Chef is funny, clever, believable and sweet.  Jon Favreau’s writing, directing and acting are all wonderful, as are the other actors, especially the young Emjay Anthony as Percy.  The cinematography is beautiful, with amazing footage of food being prepared.  The music is excellent, featuring Latin and Afro-Cuban artists providing a toe-tapping soundtrack.  But best of all, Chef emphasizes the importance of family, and when family comes first, everything else comes together beautifully.


Chef Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Just about everyone likes to eat.  Many people enjoy preparing a meal.  But for some, preparing food is an art and a passion.  Those individuals are our chefs.  Jon Favreau writes, directs and plays the lead, Chef Carl Casper, in his charming, heartwarming and richly food focused comedy Chef.

Carl is the head chef at a popular L.A. restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman), an unimaginative when it comes to food type.  When the restaurant gets a seething review from an important restaurant blogger, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), Riva and Carl butt heads.  After Carl’s confrontation with the critic goes viral thanks to cell phones and social media, he finds himself without a restaurant kitchen to cook in.

Encouraged and coerced by his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), Carl accompanies Inez and their 10-year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony) to Miami to visit her Cuban musician father (Jose C. Hernandez), and set up a meeting with her first husband Marvin (a scene stealing Robery Downey Jr.), who just happens to have an old food truck to spare.

With the help of Carl’s former line cook Martin (John Leguizamo), and Carl’s young son Percy, the three guys head off on a road trip from Miami to L.A. in the food truck.  Carl’s menu of Cubano sandwiches and yucca fries are a big hit, thanks in part to Percy’s savvy social media skills.

Chef has a lot going for it.  Those who appreciate good food will love the cinematography around the food preparation, and there are some gorgeous close ups of the delicious meals.  Jon Favreau is completely likeable as Carl, a man who is happier when he learns to follow his creative instincts and when he finally takes the opportunity to really get to know his son Percy on their fun-filled road trip.

Favreau surrounds himself with a solid cast and a charming follow your dreams storyline, and it all adds up to an uplifting and delightful comedic journey.  Backed by a strong Afro-Cuban and soul soundtrack, Chef is a treat for the senses.  Follow up seeing Chef by going out to a really good restaurant or making your own really good meal for a full sensory experience.


Chef Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is the title character of Chef, whose passion for innovation is stifled by his Venice CA restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman), leading to a viral confrontation with a food critic (Oliver Platt) and unemployment. His ex-wife Inez (Sofía Vergara) suggests a trip to her home town of Miami where Carl acquires a used food truck from her first ex-husband Marvin (Robert Downey Jr.) for Cuban street food. Carl’s assistant Martin (John Leguizamo) from the original restaurant joins him along with his ten year old son Percy (Emjay Anthony), with whom he finally is able to bond on the road trip back to California.

The enthusiasm of writer/director/star Favreau is evident in every frame of this delightful film. The bonding scenes between Carl and Percy are particularly touching, and Marvin’s brief quirky scene is a real scene stealer for Robert Downey Jr. The excellent cast also includes Scarlett Johansson as Molly the restaurant hostess, Bobby Cannavale as Tony the sous-chef, Amy Sedaris as a publicist, and Russell Peters as a cop.

Of course, food is a big part of the film’s appeal, always beautifully presented in its preparation, presentation and appreciation, from fine dining to home cooking and street fare. Local culture along the way is also celebrated, including New Orleans beignets and Texas barbecue, and an excellent score including Cuban music from Jose C. Hernandez ‘Perico’ (who also plays the grandfather Abuelito), and Texas blues from Gary Clark Jr. The real street food chef Roy Choi appears in the closing credits training Favreau for all the cooking scenes he did himself.


Consensus: With an excellent cast led by director Jon Favreau, Chef is a delightful and very entertaining comedy that also has a sweet story about family bonding and some gorgeous cinematography of food being prepared. ***1/4 (out of 4)

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