I had the unfortunate bad luck to miss Chef when it first hit theaters in May this year. I was living in a place that didn’t get too many limited releases, and once I moved to a place with them, it had already left most theaters, or was still an hour away. So it took a lot longer than I would have liked, but at least I beat the DVD release. Aka, getting to see it when it was hitting the cheater theater cycle.

The reason I really wanted to see it is that in a summer with so many giant block busters, the trailer made this one seem a lot more realistic and honest. It also helps that it secretly had a lot of actors I enjoyed, many of which who had starred in big block busters.

Not to mention I heard it was a movie about cooking, where they actually featured a lot of cooking. Not calling out any names or anything.

Hey! A kid too! This would appeal to the Disney crowd! That and the heavy cursing!

This is a movie about Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who has been cooking food longer than some people have been alive. Hell, I have been writing reviews longer than some people have been alive. If anyone is younger than this website and reading it, congrats, you are very advanced for your age. He has been working at the same restaurant for awhile too, under the owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman). They have butt heads a lot recently, Carl wanting to constantly change the menu and experiment and Riva thinking that people come in expecting a certain taste. Carl wants to change the menu because famed LA food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) is coming in to give them a new rating.

Well, when everything starts to not go as planned and Carl seems to get angry at everyone he needs a change of pace and stat. His ex wife (Sofia Vergara) keeps telling him he should start a food truck so he can be his own boss. He just has to borrow money from her ex husband before him (Robert Downey Jr.). Jeez. But hey, if he goes somewhere new, his old line cook Martin (John Leguizamo) promised to join him. And if the food truck can bring him closer to his son (Emjay Anthony), as the two have drifted over the years, then it is even better.

He just has to first figure out how to use the dang internet and that twitter thing, and figure out why everyone is so interested in his truck in the first place. Also a wild Scarlett Johansson and Bobby Cannavale appear, so they should be noted too.

What the fuck is the internet?

Despite knowing a little bit about the movie, I still found this movie to be full of surprises. Some big names have pretty small roles in the movie and some of the character choices were surprising, even by the ending. But in the end, really, it is a movie about following your dreams, family, and food.

It actually took me a little bit to recognize Sofia Vergara in that her voice wasn’t completely exaggerated like it must be in Modern Family. Jon Favreau when he was wearing the bandanna looked like The Amazing Johnathan which was just weird. John Leguizamo I had to assume was actually Michael Pena because Leguizamo hasn’t been in anything great since…well, almost forever.

Speaking of food. This movie features a lot of food, a bit more varied early on pre-food truck, but darn it, they show a lot of food prep and more importantly people eating it. Which is important in this genre.

It was all decently funny and cute at the same time. There weren’t any hugely dramatic or crazy moments happening throughout, just an appropriate sequence events after the critic bundle early on. That was refreshing. A lot more comedies rely on outrageous antics to carry the plot, but this one keeps it relatively simple.

Overall, Chef is clearly the best cooking related movie of this year so far.

3 out of 4.

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