I’m doing a lot of research into murder for my new book (trust me, I’m not venturing into crime fiction) and have been watching a lot of fairly disturbing documentaries, so last week, feeling chilled to the bone, I searched for a happy-making film and found Chef. Chef is directed, written by and stars Jon Favreau and was released earlier this year.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is head chef at an LA restaurant, Gauloise; once he was the most promising and innovative young chef in LA but now, thwarted by his conservative boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman), he has to make the same classic dishes he’s made for years. After a public showdown with an influential critic and blogger goes viral, Casper quits his job. His professional opportunities are now non-existent due to his social media meltdown and so he goes to Miami with his ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara) ostensibly to look after their young son, Percy (Emjay Anthony) while Inez takes business meetings.

While in Miami, Inez pesters Carl to open a food truck, saying that it will help him to rediscover his passion and he will be able to work alone, creating the food he wants. Carl reluctantly takes her advice and opens a truck specialising in hearty Cuban food. He is joined by his friend Martin (John Leguizamo) who used to work with him at Gauloise and together they show Percy the ropes of working in a kitchen. The three decide to drive the truck from Miami back to LA, stopping along the way to try out their new cuisine with locals.

Chef is a lighthearted fun movie. It’s also very funny, especially Carl’s ignorance regarding social media at the start of the film, and his rant against the blogger. Favreau wanted to make a small-scale independent film after his experiences directing blockbusters like Iron Man and working on huge studio productions like The Avengers and The Wolf of Wall Street and he had long wanted to make a film about food. Chef combines both of these aspirations brilliantly. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that it made me exceptionally hungry while I was watching it!


Dinner For Five

Dinner For Five is a now cancelled TV programme, originally broadcast from 2001-2004 on the Independent Film Channel in the US. Jon Favreau is the host and each episode consists of him, with four guests, discussing their experiences in the entertainment industry, telling jokes and anecdotes and generally having the craic! Favreau conceived of the idea after he went out with some colleagues after a day’s filming on location and they sat around after dinner swapping stories. Favreau thought it would be great to do this with a revolving guest list of celebrities as it would give film fans the chance to see their favourite actors and directors in a more informal setting.

The complete list of guests can be seen on the show’s Wikipedia page and it’s certainly eclectic. It includes Hollywood boldface names such as Judd Apatow, Alec Baldwin, Colin Farrell, Seth McFarlane, and John Waters, and some more left-field people like Fran Drescher, Andy Dick and Marilyn Manson. They have dinner and chat until the camera film runs out and the dinner is then edited into a 25 minute episode.

I have watched a few episodes and they can vary in quality. Sometimes you get a loudmouth (although I adore his films) like Kevin Smith who won’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise and sometimes you get a legend like James Caan talking about sebaceous cysts!

Every episode is available to watch free on the Dinner For Five channel on Youtube and it’s a great resource for any film lovers out there. Here’s a taster. Enjoy!