Chef

ChefI wanted to see this in theatres since it spoke to my longer term plans of opening a food truck. Alas, like most films, I missed it before they yanked from the market. Luckily today you don’t have to wait too long before the streaming version is available.

This film will appeal to people who love to cook, people who want to work for themselves and people struggling with relationship issues, both partner and children. For foodies, I don’t know if it will appeal unless you’ve worked behind the scenes in the food industry.

A innovative chef works in a old-school Italian restaurant whose owner resists change. Chef is divorced with part-time access to his son. There are multiple levels of tension. Chef is frustrated with the owner of the restaurant since his innovative ideas are squashed for the sake of the standards. He is also frustrated that he can’t spend more time with his 10-year old son.  There is also some background tension between he and his ex-wife and her other ex-husband.

The pace of the film, as Chef has his obligatory blow-up with owner and starts out on his own with a beat up food truck serving Cuban fare,  is fast, changes locations frequently and injects an odd lot of cameos from very familiar Hollywood faces. For a dramedy, the acting if good, particularly from Chef (Jon Favreau), ExWife (Sofia Vergara) and Son (Emjay Anthony). The dialogue feels very natural and realistic even if some situations seem chaotic and contrived.

Chef avoids what could have been a tangled mess of cliches when faced with the age-old dilemma of innovation building business and business destroying innovation. It shows the two can co-exist and its really a matter of determining where in the spectrum you belong, then aligning your life accordingly. Our protagonist does a good but hardly ideal job of doing just that and in the end balance is restored to the tense relationships between chef, son and ex-wife. Chef arrives at its light-hearted and happy ending without insulting your intelligence along the way; you can have your feel-good cake without having to choke on the liberally applied saccharin icing.

 

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