I have been a long time fan of Jon Favreau's work in front and behind the camera. From Swingers to Iron Man to Chef, his voice and taste in music very much represents my generation.
Without giving too much away, Chef is the story of Carl Casper, a man looking for redemption. Casper is struggling professionally. He is the chef at a popular Los Angeles restaurant, but is unable to cook what he wants. Casper is struggling as a father. He is often late to pick up his son from his ex-wife. He treats him as an afterthought. Things change when a critic comes to visit the restaurant, and we have the pleasure of witnessing this man's journey to find himself.
The scenes between Favreau and his son, Percy, portrayed by Emjay Anthony, are sometimes heart wrenching, often joyful. It is clear that our chef has forgotten what it means to be a father and has to redefine fatherhood on the fly. This, in fact, happens on a cross country journey.
It also seems as though Favreau gave his talented cast some freedom in their dialogue, which certainly gave the film more authenticity. There are some wonderful performances throughout the film by some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Dustin Hoffman play characters that could easily have been one dimensional, but aren't in their capable hands. John Leguizamo, as usual, brings great life and humor to his character, Martin. He is Favreau's best friend and is a reminder of what loyalty should look like.
Carl Casper is not an ideal pop culture pop, but his evolution is compelling. Chef and its amazing cooking sequences (Bad pun alert!) left me hungry for more.