5 Reasons Chef Is The Best Kitchen Movie We've Ever Seen

By Steve West 2014-06-25 05:42:20discussion comments
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Movies about kitchen work and the kitchen culture are often derided by chefs for being inaccurate. The truth is, movies like Waiting are not about chefs and cooking. Other films like Spanglish arenít about the chef world, they just use the job as an aspect of a character. Where Chef differentiates itself is in the respect and care of the world it portrays. Director Jon Favreau takes the world of a high level chef in Carl Casper and uses it as metaphor for the world of filmmaking. Further than that, Chef serves as a metaphor for the life of the passionate artist and working man.

What captures you when you first watch Chef is the sheer joy that Favreau had in making the film. This comes through in all of the passion thatís placed in the culinary aspects of the film. From nuanced moments played for comedy like the sous chef being hungover at work, but knowing how important that nightís dinner service is so he slept in his car in the parking lot. I can say from personal experience that many nights on the line are accompanied by at least one chef who is still feeling the effects of the previous nightís debauchery.

Itís not just one thing that Favreau got right in his fictional culinary world. These are a few of the things I noticed on both of my viewings of the film. As a chef, I enjoyed the hell out of the film, but I think what makes Chef the best kitchen movie ever made is that it cares enough to tell a wonderful story painted in an accurate and entertaining way. Here are 5 reasons why Chef strikes us as the best kitchen movie ever made.

ChefCulture
Chef Gets Kitchen Culture Right
The film industry presents a facade that the audience chooses to believe. Itís not difficult to research the world of professional kitchens and do a passable job in translating them to film. Chef breaks no ground in that regard, although it is the most authentic portrayal of the kitchen world. From the knife work, which is precise and adept, to the attitude of the chefs, no other film can claim to capture what it is to be in a working kitchen in such a visceral way.

Jon Favreau creates not just an accurate physical environment, but the world is accurate. The idea of loyalty to the chef above the owner, who is paying everyoneís salary, is displayed wonderfully in an early scene. Not to mention the stresses of everyday work, with the incessant noise of the printer blaring while co-worker Molly (Scarlett Johansson) is on the phone being a showpiece for the kind of frenetic pace a high-end kitchen experiences. Over on the El Jefe truck, we watch as Percy (Emjay Anthony) goes to serve a burnt sandwich during the hectic first service to the workers who helped them load the kitchen equipment. Carl (Favreau) explains to his son that whatís happening in the kitchen is not about who pays, but about taking pride and loving what you do. Films about kitchens always want us to believe the worst about what the cooks are willing to do the customer. Itís refreshing that we get to see the truth -- the chef and his team are devoted to the food they serve.
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