‘Chef’ cooks up a cinematic storm

Jon Favreau as Carl Casper in Chef. PA Photo/Lionsgate.
Jon Favreau as Carl Casper in Chef. PA Photo/Lionsgate.

If food be the music of love then ‘Chef’ composes a mouth-watering symphony of Cuban flavours to delight the palate of World Cup-weary audiences, who crave a heart-warming drama garnished with gentle humour.

Written and directed by Jon Favreau, this uplifting confection works to a tried and tested recipe of triumph against adversity, and taps into the rising popularity of food trucks as a lunchtime hang-out for famished American office workers.

Snappily edited scenes of high quality produce being transformed into plates of calorie-loaded deliciousness make any hot dogs, nachos and popcorn from the concessions stand look bland by comparison.

The culinary wizard responsible for this raging hunger is Carl Casper (Favreau), who is the star attraction at a Los Angeles restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman).

Prestigious food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), makes a reservation at the restaurant and Carl excitedly plans a new tasting menu with sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale), line cook Martin (John Leguizamo) and sassy hostess Molly (Scarlett Johansson).

‘Chef’ wears its heart on its olive oil-spattered sleeve, establishing an emotional divide between Carl and his son, which might be bridged as they spend valuable time together on the road.

Favreau and Anthony are an adorable pairing, and Robert Downey Jr injects ribald humour to his fleeting scenes as Inez’s germ-phobic first ex-husband.

Heartfelt scenes of confession and reconciliation ensure tears flow as freely as the overpriced vino from Riva’s cellar.