Blogs » FLIX! » Review: CHEF (2014) You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy Jon Favreau's new film, but it doesn't hurt



CHEF (2014) Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris. Directed by Jon Favreau

Mojo Pork Cubanos, Yucca Fries with Banana Ketchup, Tostones with Chile Vinegar, all of these dishes are featured in the movie "Chef," creations of Los Angeles chef and Kogi Food Truck king Roy Choi who served as culinary advisor for the new film from writer/director/and actor Jon Favreau.

After successful stints as director and producer of the Iron Man films, Favreau returns to his indie roots to play Carl Casper, a once creative and innovative chef who's now forced to cook the same old food for controlling restaurant owner Riva played by Dustin Hoffman. When word gets out that respected food critic Ramsey Mitchel (Oliver Platt, whose brother is New York food critic Adam Platt) is going to stop by the restaurant for a visit, Carl starts preparing a special meal but he's forced by Riva to play it safe and cook what's already on the menu. When Ramsey gives Carl a scathing review he starts a twitter feud with the critic and loses his job at the restaurant.

When persuasive ex-wife Inez (SofĂ­a Vergara) convinces Carl to start his own food truck, he takes his 10 year old son Percy (the charming Emjay Anthony) and his sous chef friend Martin (John Leguizamo) on the road to test out some new recipes. The trio are deadly together with Martin on the truck's PA loudspeaker working the crowd, Percy on social media promoting the food truck, and Carl behind the stove, whipping up the cuisine.

The film is about much more than food, it's a story about the relationship between a father and his son rediscovering each other. Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony are great together and there are several special scenes between the two but my favorite has to be the one in Austin on top of the food truck as the two enjoy the music of Gary Clark Jr outdoors in front of Guero's on Congress. Austin is also featured prominently when the trio stop at the famous Franklin Barbeque, home of the best tasting brisket on the planet.

Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson have cameos in the film, and who cares if they're not doing much, it's great to see them on screen. Also I really enjoyed the soundtrack which features some great salsa and soul tracks by Pete Rodriguez, Courtney John, The Martinis, Liquid Liquid, Louie Ramirez, and the El Michels Affair.

You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy this delightful new film but anyone that is will surely appreciate it as they head to the kitchen or favorite restaurant after viewing the movie.

(3 1/2 stars)

*Now showing at Santikos Cinema Bistro (San Antonio), Violet Crown Cinema (Austin), and Sundance Cinema (Houston).