Saturday movie review: Chef

My advice to you regarding the subject of this week's movie review: Eat before watching!

Heck, it won't really matter, I suppose, for even if you watch this film on a full stomach, the culinary delights in CHEF will have your tummy growling in no time.

chef movie

Food is the star of the comedy CHEF, written and directed by Jon Favreau, but there's a full menu of delightful actors in the film, too. Favreau stars as Carl Casper, head chef of an upscale eatery owned by Dustin Hoffman (as Riva), with John Leguizamo (as Martin) and Bobby Cannavale (as Tony) backing him in the kitchen. Scarlett Johansson oversees the restaurant's wine selections; Oliver Platt plays a popular food blogger who can make or break Carl's career with one review (he leans toward the latter, thanks to Carl following the tried and true menu Riva forces him to prepare for the review).

Wait, there's more: Sofia Vergara plays Carl's supportive ex-wife, and relative newcomer Emjay Anthony plays Percy, Carl's 10-year-old son who lives with Mom but craves more time with Dad. Robert Downey Jr. as well as goofball Amy Sedaris have small snicker-worthy parts, as well.

Yummy cast, right!?

Storyline basics: When Carl's career in the kitchen goes up in flames thanks to the blogger's poor review and his manic response to it going viral, Carl's salvation comes by way of a used food truck and his Cubano sandwiches—tweeted out to the masses by his social media-savvy son as the food truck crosses the country.

A reverence for food, family, and friends underscores every scene. Respect for social media and what it can do to and for one's career runs a close second.

Favreau and Leguizamo play off one another like long-time friends. Every scene with the two of them made me smile—and made me want to eat... or dance... or both. Everyone else, other than the youngster playing Percy, have relatively small parts, but every one of them turn in juicy performances.

Though there are some dark moments—such as the reality and humiliation of Carl losing his job and reputation, along with his son's desperate desire for a relationship with his father—the film is humorous without being silly. It's also uplifting and fun. The spicy soundtrack perfectly underscores the good times from beginning to end.

And the food... well... here Jon Favreau passionately describes the star of the story—the Cubano sandwich:


Did you take notes? I'll be trying my hand at Cubano sandwiches soon for sure. Or perhaps just finding a good local restaurant—or food truck?—that offers them!

CHEF (rated R for language, including some suggestive references) opened theatrically in the U.S. last year and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming (I watched on Netflix Streaming). Find out more—and see some fun gifs and videos—on the film's official website.

Today's question:

I've never had a Cubano sandwich. Have you... and is it as good as it looks?