Due to Netflix constantly being updated, finding a new show on it can be hard. Hidden gems are buried between straight-to-DVD releases and Syfy original movies.
Chef was the indie darling that opened South by Southwest film festival in 2014. Last spring, Chef was picked up for distribution by Netflix.
Once an up-and-coming chef, Carl Casper, quits his jobs at a popular Los Angeles restaurant when the owner tells Carl to stick to the classics rather than make innovative dishes. Left to figure out what’s next, he ends up in Miami with his son and ex-wife. There, he is persuaded by his family and friends to launch a food truck, serving classic Cuban cuisine. The trip back to L.A. helps him repair his relationship with his preteen son, rediscovering his love for cooking along the way.
The film parallels the director, Jon Favreau, who wanted to go “back to basics” after directing multiple big budget movies back to back. Also standing in as the writer, Favreau embedded parts of his life into the main character. Both Favreau and the main character struggled between being a father and having a busy career.
Unlike Favreau’s past few films, Iron Man 1 & 2 and Cowboys vs. Aliens, Chef doesn’t rely on spectacle and action to fill in the runtime. The cast is what brings the movie to life.
In the movie, only three main characters are seen throughout the film. It seems like Favreau called a couple of his celebrity friends to fill the supporting cast, such as Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, and Bobby Cannavale. Favreau does another self-insert in this production by playing the main character. Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara is Inez, Casper’s ex-wife. This isn’t your normal over the top Vergara; here she is compelling and doesn’t scream into the camera. Percy, Casper’s son, is played by Emjay Anthony. Percy helps run his father’s social media for the truck and brings his parents back together.
Chef brings life back to the dying genre of the road trip film. The scenes that took place on the movie’s road trip were actually filmed in their designated locations. While in Miami, the crew filmed at the Versailles restaurant, the Fontainebleau Hotel, and the famous Cuban restaurant, Hoy Como Ayer, in Little Havana.
In past years, Indie films have been more accessible to the general audience. Nowadays, creators have the tools to make quality content with almost nothing. All you need for a good movie are well-thought-out characters and a camera.
The run time is 1 hour and 55 minutes and rated R for language. Chef is a feel-good comedy that’s perfect for a night in.