Chef Carl Casper suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner, he is left to figure out what's next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife, his friend and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen and zest for life and love.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
1 hr. 55 min
7:00 MOVIE at Cedar Lee
Meet us in the lobby ahead of time, look for us in the theater, or catch up with us near the outer doors after the film.
9:30 DINNER/DISCUSSION at Jezebel's Bayou
Jezebels Bayou is a casual full-service restaurant that features dishes inspired by New Orleans.
Just in case you don't connect with the group after the film, proceed over to the restaurant and ask to sit at the "Movie Group" table.
12718 Larchmere Boulevard
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In a somewhat meta story line, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a once-celebrated kitchen hotshot who is trapped in a restaurant bankrolled by a guy (Dustin Hoffman) who won’t let Carl cook what he likes. The place is popular, but safe. After 10 years, Carl is miserable, despite an ex-wife who still kind of digs him (Sofia Vergara), a girlfriend who clearly does (Scarlett Johansson) and a son who adores him (Emjay Anthony).
Things come to a head when a food critic and early champion of Carl’s (Oliver Platt) writes a scathing review. Carl’s subsequent attempt to win the critic back with a more daring menu falls afoul of his boss, and our hero suddenly finds himself out of a job. A run-down food truck and a hankering to make Cuban sandwiches suddenly offer an opportunity for redemption.
The food shots in this movie are absolutely incredible. Sequences filmed on the truck — which Carl picks up in Miami and drives back to L.A. via New Orleans, Austin and other foodie meccas — are the kind of culinary porn that you see on the Food Network. One scene featuring the brisket at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue focuses so sensuously on a knife cutting through the char of the meat to its tender pink center that I almost had to look away in embarrassment.
Even a short bit in which Carl makes his son, Percy, a grilled-cheese sandwich — gently moving it around on the butter-slathered grill with his hand — is filmed like a boudoir scene. (Stay for the closing credits, where you can watch a food consultant teach Favreau how to find the grill’s slippery “hot spot.”)
But the movie is about more than food. The real, more involving story — even beyond the one about Carl getting his mojo back — is about the relationship between a boy and his father. As the film opens, we see that Carl, a workaholic, hasn’t always been the best dad. But over the course of a month together on the food truck, where Carl has somewhat reluctantly agreed to let Percy help him during summer vacation, their partnership evolves from a half-baked notion into a beautiful thing.
“Chef” is filled with rich, spicy flavors, from its soundtrack of Cuban and New Orleans jazz and Texas blues to the colorful supporting cast, which includes funny cameos by Robert Downey Jr. and Amy Sedaris. John Leguizamo is particularly good as Carl’s profane, motormouthed assistant, Martin. Everyone in this movie feels like they have a life outside the edges of the screen. And the humor, which features running gags about the explosive growth of food-centric social media, is wryly observant.
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