There’s a lot of good stuff in Jon Favreau’s culinarily driven film Chef, which documents the fall and rise of a famed toque-meister (portrayed by Favreau himself) as he journeys from restaurant to food truck. But realistic it is not.
I enjoyed it … to a certain extent. It’s breezy, amusing, touching at times. The characters are likable. The food looks, well, tasty.
It’s a fantasy, however, and doesn’t ring true on many levels. The protagonist, a divorced dad who connects with his son through food, has this only-in-the-movies relationship with his kid, who is just plain worshipful, agreeing to clean his truck with little complaint and nearly jumping at the chance to “help” his pop as a line cook after school and on weekends. An offer you can’t refuse, right? If I were his child, I’d be asking for overtime.
Then there’s the colleague, deftly played by John Leguizamo, who joins Favreau’s character on his food truck for no pay after leaving his job as a sous chef at a high-end restaurant. Really? This is loyalty going a little far. Plus, the truck is shown as becoming an immediate success, which is also hard to believe. This is a tough business. It’s difficult to make money right away.
So the picture strains credibility at times. It also overstays its welcome; a lot of the final act could’ve ended up on the cutting-room floor. And everything wraps up all too neatly; yes, it’s a feel-good type of flick, but the Dickensian way everything falls in place is just a little too easy. It’s pleasant, yes, Believable, no.
All in all, Chef has too many issues to be called a great film. If you want a fun science-fiction movie about the trials and travails of being a chef, this is a good option. It’s just not what I perceive to be a realistic document of one man’s adventure in the profession.