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Discussions with Damaris

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  • Damaris Chanza

Jon Favreau's Chef Reminds Us Food Is Love

Sometimes we all get caught in the hustle and bustle of existing, but Chef implores us to strive for happiness.

Chef was released in 2014 with a star-studded cast of Sophia Vergara, Robert Downy Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and John Leguizamo. Favreau wrote, produced, directed, and starred in this independent film. He portrays a restaurant chef who feels creatively stifled by his position. After going viral on Twitter for an altercation with a food critic, he leaves his job searching for happiness and culinary inspiration.

Think back to that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you take a bite from that one dish your grandma makes better than any store-bought or commercialized version. Think of how the smell enveloped your nostrils, and the taste reminds you of home and feels like love. Chef exudes that feeling so impeccably that you almost forget none of the food is within reach.

It highlights all the beautiful things that surround food and cooking. However, as we all know, when something you love becomes a job, it can make you question your passion and neglect other things you love. In this case, Favreau's character, Carl Casper, neglects his relationship with his son while feeling uninspired by his culinary prowess. The film's heart derives from this familial dynamic between father and son.

Comfort and homey-ness aren't built with just the plot. The soundtrack and comedic timing are unrivaled. The soundtrack transports you to hot summer days outside with the smell of grilled meat, sunscreen-covered bodies, and pool chlorine filling the air. With songs like "I Like It Like That," "Sexual Healing," and "La Quimbumba," the soundtrack puts you in a great mood compelling you to shimmy in your seat. The music draws you, and the comedy only heightens the experience. Fun jokes about cornstarch, beer, and chocolate lava cake will have you slap your knee laughing with joy.

Be wary of watching Chef while hungry. With the Carne asada, crispy grilled cheese sandwich, buttery Cubanos, delicious pasta, and sugar-coated beignets, there's no shortage of food porn in this film. Celebrity chef Roy Choi is responsible for the beautifully curated menu cooked and eaten throughout the film. The food scenes will have you salivating, craving every dish presented. You'll wish the subtle hint of mustard from perfectly toasted Cubano was dancing along your tongue, or you had to wipe a powdered sugar mustache from biting into a warm, perfectly fried beignet. Your wallet will cry from all your new UberEats receipts.

On a more serious note, Chef provides insightful commentary on the struggles of being creative. Casper's medium is food, and he reached a standstill, struggling between true passion, peer approval, and commercial success. It poses the question, "are you happy" and aims to make you happy regardless of the answer, even if only temporarily.

Overall, Chef evoked every euphoric feeling of love that tingles through your body when eating a delicious meal. Food and art intertwine in this film when it is used as the source of creative inspiration. Cooking and eating food together undeniably bond people creating unforgettable memories. Chef isn't filled with prestigious chefs cooking overtly complex dishes seemingly unobtainable to the average viewer. Instead, it connects us all through one of life's simple pleasures – the sandwich. Chef captivates and stimulates your heart as much as it does your stomach. As corny as it sounds, Chef reminds us food is love.

Stream Chef on Hulu.

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