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USA 2013
Directed by
Jon Favreau
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars


Synopsis: Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a high profile chef at Gauloises, a ritzy LA restaurant owned by the formidable Riva (Dustin Hoffman), an authoritarian who tries to rein in Carl’s creativity. When Carl is given a bad review by food blogger, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), he spits the dummy and walks out, but not until he has set off a social media circus of attention on Twitter. Funded by Marvin (Robert Downey Jnr), Carl sets up his own travelling food truck, at the same time attempting to bond more closely with his 10 year old son Percy (Emjay Anthony), the child he shares with estranged partner Inez (Sofia Vergara).

Although dramatically in need of a little pruning, this relentlessly feel-good film simply sweeps you along for a gourmet ride with a bunch of totally likeable (even the hard-nosed Riva, outstandingly portrayed, as expected, by Hoffman) and fun characters.

Aside from those already mentioned we get to enjoy the presence of other wonderful actors, notably Scarlett Johansson as Molly, a friend and waitress at Gauloises, as well as Martin (John Leguizamo) and Tony (Bobby Cannavale), two of Carl’s sous-chefs at the restaurant. There is much good natured and amusing banter between Carl and his mates, and the relationship between father and son is intelligently portrayed. We meet Carl when he seldom has enough time for his son, but the arc of their relationship develops touchingly, with warmth and credibility. Young Anthony as Percy is a child star to be watched – he is a beautiful screen presence, and manages to hold his own in the midst of so much other forceful talent. Gorgeous Vergara, (starring currently in Fading Gigolo) is a luscious presence as Inez although perhaps believability in the relationship with Carl is stretched a bit.

The food itself is a major star in the film, starting with the marvellous styling of the haute cuisine that Carl prepares at Gauloise. The opening scene is one to remember with a thrumming soundtrack of Cajun music setting the rhythm for chopping, slicing, dicing and plating of some of the most sumptuous food imaginable. Don’t go hungry to this one! When anyone eats in the film it is a totally immersive and sensual experience, ranging from the most complex dishes to the humble-but-mouth-watering Cuban cheese sandwich. For the later scenes, Favreau employed food truck king of LA, Roy Choi, to help him get the look and feel of the van. As Carl and his crew serve up Cuban specialties, there’s an exciting vibe to the activity with crowds stretching down the street, having been alerted to the truck’s presence on Twitter.

Underlying the frenetic frying, chopping and munching there is a story with a real heart about people finding their place in the world, and sharing that passion with their friends and family. It’s sweet, sports a brilliant soundtrack, and nicely encapsulates the juggernaut of influence that social media wields in today’s internet world.  Tasty!




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