‘The Chef’ – A Luxurious Preview:
Sipping Cuban cocktails in the plush Lounge at the Odeon Whiteley’s was a far removed experience from the cinema going days of my youth which came complete with vats of diet coke and popcorn. A refined start to the evening, our preview of ‘The Chef’ was held in one of the intimate screening rooms so, thankfully as it turned out, we were able to enjoy a range of Cuban street food, along with more cocktails! Anyone who has seen the film will know why I was so thankful for the food!
I’d been keen to review the Lounge and hadn’t any preconceptions about the film. Nor did I realise how strongly I’d empathise with the story line. Written by, directed by, produced by and starring Jon Favreau – the cast of Chef, or El Jefe, includes Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. and the achingly talented young actor Emjay Anthony. Chef Carl Casper played by Jon Favreau is subjected to a galling review from a leading blogger. Dismayed by the review, Carl attempts to respond on twitter – and the result is the type of twitter war I’ve seen all too often.
Refusing to compromise his creative integrity any longer under the control of restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman), our hero quits. It is through the encouragement of his ex-wife that he decides to launch a Cuban food truck and take to the road.
Did my enjoyment of this film come most from the stunning food photography (either eat before you go or indulge in one of the pop-up events at the Lounge, Odeon Whiteley’s). Or was it an empathy with the dichotomy of reviewing where a bitingly direct criticism of a popular restaurant will generate more traffic than a bland or even complimentary write-up?
Perhaps it was my fascination with the portrayal of social media – much of the success of Casper’s food truck is down to the effective tweets and vines from his young son, holed up in the back of the food truck as they trek across the States.
Or maybe it was just that this movie has a happy ending. Almost too Hollywood for its own good.
Of course sitting in the intimate screening room of The Lounge at Odeon Whiteley’s probably helped a bit. It really does look like the photo (although I certainly have no resemblance to the girl and my companion was nothing like as cute).
I’d have loved this film wherever I saw it. But the experience certainly helped heighten the event and if you want to go along for yourself there are more screenings at The Lounge over the next few weeks. Even if you don’t live near enough to Whiteley’s make sure you don’t miss ‘The Chef’ which opens on June 25 2014. A must for anyone with an interest in food, aspiring bloggers and restaurant critics, with cinematography and a story line that will appeal to a broader audience. of film lovers.