There is a scene in the Jon Favreau vehicle “Chef,” which he directs and stars in as Los Angeles chef Carl Casper, that stands out in the film. In the scene, Carl is making a grilled cheese for his son, simmering artisanal bread with a polyphony of fine cheeses, frying in a shallow pool of hot butter.
Movies like “Chef” stir visceral reactions. There are a number of scenes like aforementioned grilled cheese medley. These scenes offer the impression of inviting the viewer to engage with the film on a deeper level through the stomach. The film asks audiences to be hungry and consume images, sounds and textures.
Another scene at Miami’s famous Versailles gives the film a certain kind of gravitas, where Carl feels like he has gone back to the roots of cooking. He decides to make food “for the people” and buys a food truck to travel across the country making yuca fries, Cuban sandwiches, and dishes inspired by regional cuisine from his travels, like Texas brisket. Audiences will notice the parallels between Casper’s desire for a deeply-rooted and experimental cuisine, and Favreau’s own yearning to return to the indie cinema that made him famous, transitioning away from blockbusters like “Ironman” to his “Swingers” days.
“Chef” stands out as an excellent film about food and the love of food. But there are, of course, so many films about the culinary arts, or movies that feature just really great scenes with gorgeous meals. “The Lunchbox” and “Eat, Pray, Love” also come to mind. Favreau’s film may present itself as a film about a decorated chef’s desire to return to his roots, but it is also about the freedom of expression, of re-charging and taking creative risks.
What are your favorite movies about food? Let us know in the comments below!