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Film: Chef!

"You will never be happy, cooking for someone else."

Chef is a 2014 comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Jon Favreau. It tells the story of chef of a successful Los Angeles restaurant who is unhappy at where he is in his life. After a devastating review and misunderstandings on how Twitter works, wackiness ensues. Has appearances by a bunch of people from his other films, including Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey, Jr.


This film provides examples of:

  • Amicable Exes: Despite getting divorced, it is clear that Carl and Inez care for each other greatly. Inez is also friendly with her other ex-husband, Marvin. By the end of the film, they end up remarrying.
  • Bad Boss: Riva's squashes all off Chef Carl's creativity and spontaneity.
  • Batman Gambit: Ramsay Michel's bad review was intended to get Carl offended and angry enough to ditch his current safe culinary style.
  • Caustic Critic: The food blogger whose mediocre review of Carl leads to the events of the film. In his case, he was a former fan of his work, but finds his current work devoid of passion. However, at the end, they end up patching things up as they start a new restaurant together.
  • Cool Food Truck: It may start out as a heap but after a thorough cleaning, new equipment, colorful paint job, and a gratuitously good sound system, the food truck is a thing of beauty.
  • Doing It for the Art: In universe. The film's plot revolves around whether or not someone should be true to their artistic vision despite the risks or to stick with what they know will work in exchange for financial security.
  • Food Porn: Just try not to make a quick bite your next stop after watching it.
  • Gilligan Cut: Chef Carl takes his son produce shopping for his restaurant. When surrounded by the most amazing fruits you have ever seen, Percy asks for some kettle corn. Carl dismisses kettle corn as nothing but processed sugar over starch and wouldn't this delicious looking fruit be way better? Cut to them pigging out over a huge bag of kettle corn.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: Carl's career as a professional chef is ruined in the beginning when the videos of him blowing up goes viral.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The same Food Porn step-by-step meal preparation used for the various restaurant meals is used to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • No Antagonist: While the food blogger initially seems like he'll be the movie's main villain, the film ends with him praising Carl's food truck, emphasizing that this was precisely what he wanted to push Carl into doing, and the two open a Cuban restaurant together. So, if anything, he's sort of the movie's hero instead.
  • New Media Are Evil: Subverted. While Carl's lack of knowledge about how to send a private message on Twitter ends up ruining his career in LA, his son updating the food truck's Facebook and Twitter causes a massive surge in it's popularity since people will know ahead of time where they will be while his online infamy at least makes him known.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Depending on how you define "villain" within the context of this film. Ramsay Michel's bad review of Carl's cooking sends Carl on a soul searching trip that culminates in him rediscovering his passion a bolder style of cooking.
  • Language Barrier: Carl can't speak Spanish and this proves to be a recurring problem throughout the film.
    • Carl can't speak with his ex-father-in-law since one can't speak Spanish and the other can't speak English. Inez has to act as an interpreter.
    • Carl's tries to get some workers to help him lift a heavy range into his foodtruck, but none of the workers speak English. It's only through Martin's timely arrival (since he speaks Spanish) that work can continue.
  • Romantic False Lead: Molly and Carl clearly have some sort of romantic connection (whether or not they've actually acted upon it is left unclear), but she's completely forgotten about once Carl sets off for Miami.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Martin leaves a job with a steady paycheck in order to work with Carl on the food truck because he believes that there's more meaning in pursuing something he's passionate about.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money! Riva originally promised Chef Carl complete control of the kitchen. That is until Chef Carl tried to do something Riva didn't like. Then Riva reminded him who paid for everything and said he would find another chef to do what Carl refused to. This sequence of events is phenomenally common in the restaurant trade, where the owners will talk 'artistic integrity' and 'culinary vision' in order to hire a chef, but will fall back on money when the crunch comes.
    • A stealth Take That to the micromanagement of Marvel's film studio, which was the main reason Favreau didn't return to direct Iron Man 3.
  • Shout-Out: Ramsay Michel's name is one to Gordon Ramsay and Michel Rouxnote .
  • Shown Their Work: Favreau not only apprenticed under an actual chef before filming, he had a chef on hand for every single cooking scene, who would walk him, John Leguizamo, and Bobby Cannavale through the motions of whatever it was they were supposed to be cooking in the scene. And every time you see someone cooking? Its actual food, not 'set-dressing food' that isn't actually edible but looks good for the camera.
  • Streisand Effect: In-universe: Carl's trouble stems from his temperament and lack of understanding of how social media works, which leads to him dealing with the food blogger in the worst way possible.
  • Truth in Television: Yes, real life chefs do put cornstarch on their balls. It prevents chafing in the hot environment of the kitchen.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend and Ex-Wife: He may be a talented chef, but the portly John Favreau having dated Sophia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson strains the imagination more then a little.
  • What Could Have Been: In universe. While still working at Gauloise, Carl puts together colorful dishes packed with flavor that get his crew excited. Carl's certain that these dishes will be guaranteed to put Gauloise on a whole new level, but Riva puts a kibosh on those plans before any customers can even look at what was in the making in favor of going with what's known to work. Now no one will ever know if the restaurant could have successfully made the transition to Carl's new vision.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Carl's relationship with his son is strained due to him prioritizing his career over spending time with him, thus causing a lack of bonding between them. Their relationship dramatically improves as they travel across the country in the food truck.
  • You Are in Command Now: Carl walks out of Gauloise leaving Tony to run the kitchen on a night when the restaurant is overbooked. Tony must have done a decent job of it because he's formally promoted to Chef de Cuisine.