Perhaps a touch indulgent, definitely sentimental, Chef brings you the story of Carl Casper on his tornado of decline from promising leading cook to destitute internet joke; all the time ignoring his young son, adorably played by Emjay Anthony.
It’s a bit staid and predictable but injected with enough mouth-watering ‘food porn’ and funky Latino beats that you don’t really mind and, although the music and food do ultimately prove more colourful and vibrant than the film itself, it’s the cast here that serve as our main course. On the menu, as always, are charming performances from Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and co. padding out characters tasty enough that you’re firmly on their side, indeed wanting the Hollywood happy ending that you are unashamedly served for dessert.
The social media gimmick in particular does feel a touch passé, using twitter is a nice narrative engine but doesn’t feel as fresh as all the sumptuous produce on display. Favreau clearly likes his food and It’s not at all unpleasant having that passion shared on the big screen. You’ll certainly come out of the cinema looking for the nearest establishment selling anything remotely resembling those life-altering Cubanos sandwiches.
Chef is just a quiet and charming little picture that rolls along gently in front of you, like the wheels of the El Jefe food truck itself. Yes, it could’ve done with a bit more seasoning but as long as you go in aware you’re not getting a Michelin star cinema experience then you won’t be sending this one back to the kitchen. Enough food puns now.
There’s something to be said for a film that just tells a little story and does it a little well.