Actor and director Jon Favreau has not been quiet about describing his new film Chef as having a strong relationship to his own life – starting as an indie director in such classics as Swingers and eventually becoming involved in big budget productions, most famously the Iron Man series. Favreau has mentioned in interviews that Chef is his medium for grappling with ideas of artistry within a corporate setting. Carl Casper (Favreau), head chef at a LA restaurant, longs to experiment with his menu, especially when he hears famous food blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) is coming to review his restaurant. After a confrontation with restaurant owner, Riva (Dustin Hoffman), Casper decides to quit the restaurant, start his own food truck and focus on rebuilding his relationship with his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony.)
The movie is a feel-good family drama wrapped in the trappings of food – while there are mouthwatering scenes of fried sandwiches and beignets and grilled cheese and clam pasta (do not watch this movie hungry… I made that mistake and lived to regret it), the heart of the movie is really about the relationship between Carl and his family. One thing I found very disappointing, though, is that the movie is incredibly male-dominated, with the bit parts of Sofia Vergara as his ex-wife and Scarlett Johansson as his restaurant hostess girlfriend, basically breaking down to being supportive of his cooking and his ambitions.
The movie can probably best be described as “sweet”, with its dorky dad-like fascination with twitter, the rise of food trucks and the craze for farmer’s markets. The plot is not original – you’ll see the plot twists coming – and at times, you’ll feel like it’s just an excuse to oogle food for a couple hours. But frankly, I’m ok with that!
Beignets (adapted from Love Doughnuts)
100ml warm water
2 teaspoons quick acting yeast
55g caster sugar
1 large egg
175ml evaporated milk
450g white bread flour
oil for deep fat frying
icing sugar for sprinkling
Knead for about two to three minutes (or if you’re lucky enough to have a KitchenAid, use the knead attachment – best investment ever) and put in a warm place to proof for several hours. Once it’s proofed, cut into small squares.
Chef is in cinemas now.