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A recently released film, Chef (2014) is about “a chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family“. Will he make it? That’s the question you may ask but we will spare no answer as our focus is on the backdrop of the film – the American’s culinary world.
Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love.
With a story revolving around the setting of a working class chef, the film illuminates the American culture, trends, and values. It’s a glimpse of the society in today’s context and their ever changing social landscape gives us an insight of their constant struggles in juggling the traditional and contemporary creed of family values in which is closely link to individual’s self esteem, home, careers, behaviours and choices.
In sharp contrast, the culinary industry is built on the system of profit and capitalism, therefore it is one competitive world governed by meritocracy. The film reflects the system as one brutally harsh system which constantly seeks for the best, the most efficient and effective. The culture is such that a chef can be the most sought-after today and be completely dropped out tomorrow, therefore tomorrow is never a promise so long as one continues their pursuit in self development for success.
The story encapsulates how an individual’s passion, creativity and innovation remains as the drive to the evolution of their culinary world, while entrepreneurship is backed by a whole network of businesses – critics, publicists, media, investors and etc. With the recent rise of the Internet technologies with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube; the application of these tools has proven to be successful marketing arms and become a relatable culture to food in America.
It’s a simple family oriented plot which tells a relatable story of a father and son’s relationship in a post marriage breakdown and the social pressure he faced while he tried to salvage his life by refocusing in his career. Juggling between a competitive career and family is no easy task and the casts nailed it by conveying the mood, while the body of food and the nature of the food industry are subtly captured through the cinematography and the script narration. Overall, it’s a film worth your watch.