Chef (2014 film)

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Chef 2014.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon Favreau
Written byJon Favreau
Produced by
  • Jon Favreau
  • Sergei Bespalov
CinematographyKramer Morgenthau
Edited byRobert Leighton
Distributed byOpen Road Films
Release dates
  • March 7, 2014 (2014-03-07) (SXSW)
  • May 9, 2014 (2014-05-09) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$11 million[3]
Box office$46 million[4]

Chef is a 2014 American road comedy-drama film directed, written, co-produced by, and starring Jon Favreau as a chef who, after a public altercation with a food critic, loses his job at a popular Los Angeles restaurant and begins to operate a food truck with his young son. It co-stars Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, and Dustin Hoffman, along with Robert Downey Jr. in a cameo role.

Favreau wrote the script after directing several big-budget films, wanting to go "back to basics" and to create a film about cooking.[5] Food truck owner and chef Roy Choi served as a co-producer and oversaw the menus and food prepared for the film. Principal photography took place in July 2013 in Los Angeles, Miami, Austin and New Orleans.

Chef premiered at South by Southwest on March 7, 2014, and was released theatrically on May 9, 2014, by Open Road Films. It was well received by critics, who praised the direction, music, writing, story, and performances, and grossed $46 million against a production budget of $11 million.


Miami-born Carl Casper is the head chef of Gauloises in Brentwood, Los Angeles. While popular with his kitchen staff and hostess Molly, Carl clashes with the restaurant's owner, Riva, who wants him to stick to classical cuisine rather than innovative dishes. Carl also has a strained relationship with his tech-savvy preteen son, Percy, and his rich ex-wife, Inez.

When Carl has the chance to serve prestigious food critic and blogger Ramsey Michel, Riva demands he prepare old favorites at the last minute; Carl concedes, leading to a scathing review. Carl insults Ramsey on Twitter, not realizing that his reply is public, and gains a large online following. Carl comes up with a new menu that his staff loves and invites Ramsey to a "rematch", but leaves after confronting Riva, who wants the old menu again.

At home, Carl prepares the menu he wanted, while his sous-chef Tony serves Ramsey the same dishes from his prior visit. Ramsey tweets negatively about Carl, provoking Carl into confronting him at the restaurant. Videos of Carl's meltdown go viral, leaving him humiliated and unemployable.

Carl reluctantly accepts Inez's invitation to accompany her and Percy to Miami, where he rediscovers his love for Cuban cuisine. At Inez's encouragement, her ex-husband Marvin offers Carl a dilapidated food truck. Carl and Percy bond while restoring the truck and buying groceries, and Carl gives him a chef's knife. Martin, Carl's friend and former line cook, turns down his promotion at Gauloise to join Carl, who has reignited his passion as a chef.

Carl, Martin, and Percy drive the truck across the country to Los Angeles, serving Cuban sandwiches and yuca fries. Percy promotes them on social media, and they find success in New Orleans and Austin, where their daily specials include po' boys, beignets and barbecued brisket, made with local ingredients.

Back in Los Angeles, having strengthened his relationship with Percy, Carl accepts his son's offer to help with the food truck, with Inez also joining them. Ramsey visits the truck to explain his bad review: though an early fan of Carl, he was disappointed by a meal he felt was beneath Carl's skills. Impressed with the chef's return to form, Ramsey offers to bankroll a new restaurant where Carl will have full creative control.

Six months later, the successful new restaurant is closed for a private event: Carl and Inez's remarriage ceremony.


Musician Gary Clark Jr, Franklin Barbecue owner Aaron Franklin and general manager Benji Jacob cameo as themselves.


Jon Favreau wrote, directed and starred in Chef.


Jon Favreau, the writer, director and star of Chef, wrote the film's script in about two weeks.[6] He had long wanted to make a film about food and chefs, and felt that the subject was suited to a small-scale independent film rather than a big-budget production.[6][7] He cited Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Eat Drink Man Woman and Big Night as inspirations for creating a food-centric film.[7]

The script was semi-autobiographical, incorporating parts of Favreau's life into the main character, such as being a father while having a busy career and coming from a "broken home".[6] Favreau also drew a comparison between his career as a director and Carl's career as a chef; he stepped down from directing major studio films to go "back to basics" and create Chef on a smaller budget, much like Carl's resignation from a popular restaurant to work in a food truck.[5]

Favreau contacted Roy Choi, a restaurateur who created the Kogi Korean BBQ food truck, to serve as a consultant on the film; Choi was eventually promoted to co-producer. While the film was in pre-production, Favreau shadowed Choi in his restaurants and worked as part of Choi's kitchen crew after training at a culinary school.[7] Choi oversaw the menus prepared for the film and created the Cuban sandwiches that form a central part of the storyline.[8]


In addition to Favreau, the first actors cast in main roles were Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale. To prepare for his role as Martin the line cook, Leguizamo spent time working as an actual line cook at The Lion in the West Village.[9] It was announced that Robert Downey, Jr.‍—‌whom Favreau had previously directed in two Iron Man films‍—‌had joined the cast in May 2013.[10] Scarlett Johansson and Dustin Hoffman were cast later that month.[11][12] Favreau felt the casting was one of the film's biggest successes, which provided him with "a tremendous amount of confidence"; in particular, he was impressed by Emjay Anthony, who was ten years old at the time of filming.[5]


Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel
Versailles restaurant interior
Scenes in Miami were filmed at the Fontainebleau Hotel (left) and the Versailles restaurant (right).

Principal photography of the film began in July 2013 in Los Angeles.[13] Subsequent filming took place in Miami, Austin and New Orleans—cities that Favreau chose to work into the story because they all "possess a rich food and music culture".[14] Filming locations in Miami included the Versailles restaurant, the Fontainebleau Hotel, and the Cuban restaurant Hoy Como Ayer in Little Havana.[15][16] In New Orleans, some scenes were filmed at Café du Monde in the city's French Quarter.[17]

In Austin, filming locations included Franklin Barbecue and Guero's on South Congress.[18] Filming of the shopping scene took place in Los Angeles at Charlie's Fixtures.[19] Food prepared for the shoot was eaten by the cast and crew after filming.[7] Much of the dialogue in the food truck scenes between Favreau, John Leguizamo, and Emjay Anthony was improvised in order to capture the banter of a kitchen environment.[20]


Milan Records released a Chef soundtrack on May 6, 2014, three days before the film's release.[21] The soundtrack is a combination of Latin jazz, New Orleans jazz and blues, which serve as background to the storyline as it moves through Miami, New Orleans and Austin, respectively.[22] The film's music was chosen by music supervisor Mathieu Schreyer,[23] while additional incidental music was scored by Lyle Workman.[21]

Track listing[21]
1."I Like It Like That"Pete Rodriguez4:25
2."Lucky Man"Courtney John3:16
3."A Message to You, Rudy"Grant Phabao, Carlton Livingston and Lone Ranger5:50
4."Cavern"Liquid Liquid5:17
5."C.R.E.A.M"El Michels Affair2:54
6."Hung Over"The Martinis2:07
7."Que Se Sepa"Roberto Roena3:14
8."Ali Baba"Louie Ramirez4:16
9."Homenaje al Benny (Castellano Que Bueno Baila Usted)"Gente de Zona4:00
10."Mi Swing Es Tropical"Quantic & Nickodemus3:56
11."Bustin' Loose"Rebirth Brass Band3:55
12."Sexual Healing"Hot 8 Brass Band4:59
13."When My Train Pulls In"Gary Clark Jr.7:13
14."Travis County"Gary Clark Jr.3:39
15."West Coast Poplock"Ronnie Hudson and the Street People5:29
16."Oye Como Va"Perico Hernandez4:06
17."La Quimbumba"Perico Hernandez6:05
18."One Second Every Day"Lyle Workman2:22


Chart (2014) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[24] 96
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[25] 94
US Billboard 200[26] 160
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[26] 22
US Top Soundtracks (Billboard)[26] 5


Chef premiered on March 7, 2014, at South by Southwest, where it was the opening film of the festival and was attended by Favreau, Leguizamo, Anthony, and Platt.[27] It was subsequently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.[7] On August 19, Open Road Films announced to re-release the film nationally on August 29 for a Labor Day weekend, which would grow 100 screens to 600–800.[28]

Box office[edit]

The film was released theatrically on May 9, 2014, beginning in limited release in six theaters and expanding throughout May and June to a peak of 1,298 theaters.[29] Its total gross in the United States as of November 2, 2014 is $31.4 million.[4]

Outside of the U.S., Chef performed best in Australia (earning $2.8 million), the United Kingdom and Spain ($2.6 million in each country) and Mexico (earning a little over $1 million). In total, Chef has grossed almost $15 million outside the United States.[30]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 191 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Chef's charming cast and sharp, funny script add enough spice to make this feel-good comedy a flavorful—if familiar—treat."[31] Metacritic gave the film a score of 68 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32]

Rolling Stone's Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, describing it as "an artful surprise and an exuberant gift" and "deliciously entertaining, comic, touching and often bitingly true".[33] Ty Burr of the Boston Globe also awarded the film 3.5 out of 4 stars; he thought it was "funny and heartfelt" and that, despite its weaknesses, the strengths "overpower the parts of the meal that are undercooked".[34] Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper gave Chef 3 out of 4 stars, finding it "funny, quirky and insightful, with a bounty of interesting supporting characters" but also noting the lack of plot and character development in some parts.[35] Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times gave particular praise to the "terrific supporting cast" and the script's lack of cliché, such as in its presentation of family dynamics.[36]

Joe Leydon from Variety found the film's plot predictable and slow-paced, but noted "the trip itself is never less than pleasant, and often extremely funny".[37] The New York Times' Stephen Holden described Chef as "aggressively feel-good" and "shallow but enjoyable".[38] Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and found it "deeply satisfying, down to the soul", praising the "incredible" food photography, the "colorful supporting cast" and the "wryly observant" humor, raving, "There's nothing terribly profound about "Chef". But its message‍—‌that relationships, like cooking, take a hands-on approach‍—‌is a sweet and sustaining one."[39] San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle opined that Chef was Favreau's best film to date, highlighting the "natural and convincing" chemistry between Favreau and Anthony and the "vivid" scenes featuring big-name actors in small roles.[40]

USA Today's Scott Bowles gave Chef 3.5 out of 4 stars and called it "a nuanced side dish, a slow-cooked film that's one of the most heartwarming of the young year".[41] Ken Choy of Wide Lantern noted the structural problems but admitted, "If you ever saw the Kristen Bell sloth video on Ellen, that was me during the entire 2nd half of the movie. Non-stop tears. It was happy-crying because Favreau's character was doing what he wanted."[42]

Slant Magazine critic Chris Cabin, gave Chef a 1.5 out of 4 stars and described it as Favreau's "most self-satisfied, safe, and compromised film to date", chiefly criticizing the film's lack of realism and credibility.[43] Writing for The Village Voice, Amy Nicholson agreed that the storyline was implausible and summarized the film as "so charmingly middlebrow that it's exactly the cinematic comfort food it mocks".[44] Indiewire's Eric Kohn opined that with Chef, "Favreau has no sweeping thematic aims", and that the end product was a "self-indulgent vanity project".[45]

Television series[edit]

In 2019, Favreau and Choi released a documentary television spin-off on Netflix, The Chef Show, that sees Jon Favreau and Roy Choi, "experiment with their favorite recipes and techniques, baking, cooking, exploring and collaborating with some bold-face names in the entertainment and culinary world".[46] A second season was released in 2020.


In 2017, the film was remade into an Indian comedy-drama, also titled Chef, by Raja Krishna Menon, featuring Saif Ali Khan and Padmapriya Janakiraman in the lead roles.[47]


  1. ^ a b c d "Chef (2014)". British Film Institute.
  2. ^ "CHEF (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 1, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "'Chef,' the movie, the DVD ... the restaurant? Favreau, Choi cook again". Los Angeles Times. September 26, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Chef: Summary". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Baker, Jeff (May 26, 2014). "Jon Favreau's wild Hollywood ride from 'Swingers' to 'Iron Man' and 'Chef': interview". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Abramovitch, Seth (March 7, 2014). "SXSW: Jon Favreau Says 'Chef' Marks Return to 'Swingers'-Style Filmmaking (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e Fox, Jesse David (May 10, 2014). "Talking to Jon Favreau About Chef, Returning to Indies, and Maintaining a Vision Inside Blockbusters". New York. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  8. ^ Settembre, Jeannette (May 4, 2014). "Jon Favreau learns some lessons behind the line in 'Chef' thanks to food truck master Roy Choi". Daily News. New York. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  9. ^ Syckie, Katie Van. "How Much Did the Chef Cast Actually Learn About Cooking While Making the Movie?". Grub Street. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
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  11. ^ Ford, Rebecca (May 15, 2013). "Scarlett Johansson Joins Jon Favreau's 'Chef'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
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  13. ^ McNary, Dave (June 12, 2014). "Jon Favreau's 'Chef' Set For U.S. Distribution with Open Road". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
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  16. ^ Lavelle, Ciara (August 13, 2013). "Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara Filming Chef in Miami This Week". Miami New Times. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  17. ^ Scott, Mike (May 22, 2014). "Jon Favreau's New Orleans: 'Chef' director embraces sounds, flavors of the Crescent City in his film". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  18. ^ McCarron, Meghan (August 21, 2013). "Chef Filming at Franklin BBQ, Headed to Guero's Next". Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  19. ^ "About Us". Charlie's Fixtures. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
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  21. ^ a b c "'Chef' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. April 20, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  22. ^ Leas, Ryan (May 30, 2014). "The Best Soundtrack Moments of May 2014: Chef, X-Men, Filth, & More". Stereogum. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  23. ^ Hallock, Betty (May 12, 2014). "'Chef' star Jon Favreau, Roy Choi to host El Jefe pop-up at Pot on Thursday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  24. ^ "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing 22 September 2014" (PDF). ARIA Charts. Australian Web Archive (1282). September 23, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  25. ^ " – Soundtrack – Chef". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  26. ^ a b c "Chef Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  27. ^ Valby, Karen (March 8, 2014). "SXSW: Fest opens with world premiere of Jon Favreau's 'Chef'". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  28. ^ "'Chef' Cooks Up Awards Plan With Labor Day Weekend Re-Release". August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  29. ^ "Chef: Weekly". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  30. ^ "Chef: Foreign". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  31. ^ "Chef (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  32. ^ "Chef reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  33. ^ Travers, Peter (May 8, 2014). "Chef". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  34. ^ Burr, Ty (May 15, 2014). "Cooking from the heart in 'Chef'". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  35. ^ Roeper, Richard (May 15, 2014). "'Chef': A funny story, then a long dinner break". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
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  37. ^ Leydon, Joe (March 8, 2014). "SXSW Film Review: 'Chef'". Variety. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  38. ^ Holden, Stephen (May 8, 2014). "Man in the Kitchen Is Hungry for Love". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  39. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (May 15, 2014). "'Chef' movie review: Jon Favreau makes a satisfying return to his indie roots". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  40. ^ LaSalle, Mick (May 15, 2014). "'Chef' review: A first-class meal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  41. ^ Bowles, Scott (May 8, 2014). "'Chef' melds ingredients for a fine family comedy". USA Today. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  42. ^ "Chef Cooks Up Faves". Wide Lantern. December 4, 2014. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  43. ^ Cabin, Chris (April 23, 2014). "Chef". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  44. ^ Nicholson, Amy (May 7, 2014). "With Chef, Jon Favreau Whips Up Indie Comfort Food". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  45. ^ Kohn, Eric (March 8, 2014). "SXSW Review: Is Jon Favreau's 'Chef' a Return to Indie Form? Only In the Context of His Own Career". Indiewire. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  46. ^ Haring, Bruce (May 19, 2019). "'The Chef Show' Reunites 'Chef' Film Friends Jon Favreau & Roy Choi On Netflix – Watch The Trailer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  47. ^ Coutinho, Natasha (November 19, 2016). "Saif's finally found his close buddy". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved October 21, 2020.

External links[edit]