I admit I have an obsession with food, among many other things. One of my first few contributions to this blog is a book list on food in novels, so there’s no surprise there. So give me films about cooking or food, I’m in. Recently I caught Chef, a gastronomical comedy written and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Couple’s Retreat), featuring an A-list cast of Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Sofia Vergara, and even a cameo appearance by Russell Peters. In this film, Favreau plays Chef Carl Casper, a chef who launches into a Twitter flaming war with a food critic much to the scrutiny of the world, only to end his career by throwing a fit in the restaurant dubbing him the title of Angry Chef online. Unable to find work, Carl accompanies his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and estranged son Percy on a trip to Miami, where he regains inspiration to cook and invent new recipes, this time for a food truck. What followed was a whirlwind road trip across the United States with his trusted sous-chef and son, and a summer to remember.
As a veritable foodie, this film called out to every fibre of my being. An angry chef with Hell’s Kitchen reference? Checked. Kitchen scenes of intense food preparation porn? Checked. Geo-locating food truck via Twitter? Checked. Fellow cinema-goers resoundingly gasp at the sight and sound of cutting into a crisp yet oozy grilled cheese sandwich? Checked. Truth be told, I expected this film to be “inspired by a true story”- it could very well be. Recent years have seen a boom in gastronomic films such as Haute Cuisine (2012), Julie and Julia (2009) and French film of similar title, Le Chef (2012). Following a feel-good story arc, these films are admittedly predictable – you know the ending will always be good, so that takes a chunk off the emotional load and in this case, allow you to focus on the food and the people. Ok, mostly the food. To be honest, this film ought to come with a warning label – do not watch when hungry. Films like this make you want to run to the nearest food truck (in our case, nearest hawker centre) and stuff your face, regardless if it is 11pm or not.
Another reason to watch this film? How about Robert Downey Jr. being his usual smarmy charming Cassanova? Catch it in theatres while you still can, or wait for the DVDs to hit the library!