I was a 15 years old year old kid who loved music and was a pretty fair dancer. I grew up listening to big band, jazz, jump blues and swing standards from my grandfathers collection. I watched the movie Swing Kids in theaters and then bought it on VHS as soon as it became available. I learned all the moves and tried my best to emulate my friend peter and swing heil. Then came Swingers. That movie, though I’ll admit it was too adult for me at the time, introduced me to a whole new way of looking at the culture. It taught me that you don’t have to like something because it was trendy, hip, hep or rooted in nostalgia. Music is timeless. The work of Count Basie, the Stray Cats or even Hepcat is timeless for me. Why? Because it’s good music. Swingers highlighted a culture synonymous with Southern California in the mid-90’s, as a teenager, I never knew existed. Although the subject matter strays from the music more often than I’d prefer, it’s still one of my all time favorites. Never would I have imagined that Jon Favreau would ever create a film that spoke to me in such a similar way, to a point where I felt he had a clear window to my psyche.
That was until I watched Chef. Obviously, I love food. Jimmy and I write or talk about it daily. Everything we eat may not make the cut, but food is a constant topic of conversation in my circle of friends. My love of food has given me opportunities I never would have gotten without it. It sustains us and brings us together. The entire process of cooking delicious food makes us happy and is oddly therapeutic. As the title character (played by Favreau himself) helps us all to appreciate. As his life is turned upside down, his mantra continues to be “I don’t care what everyone says, I don’t care about the bad things that happen, or the money, I just want to cook great food.” When you are a cook, you will never lose that love, no matter how life unfolds. Another important lesson I took to heart is that you always take the ones you love along for the ride. No matter how you perceive your mundane chores or you days spent taking care of ordinary tasks. If someone wants to be your accompaniment, you let them. That reevaluation had nothing to do with food.
The other poignant topic to hone in on is that of negative critiquing. Although, I feel the arrogant food critic, the type that is going to bash so that followers laugh at their contrived venom, is slowly becoming obsolete, this movie helps you understand the power of such words. On that note, it also points to the dynamic influence social marketing has on the consumer both on negative and positive fronts. The power of one voice could crush someones business just as easy as it could trebuchet it into stardom
I don’t want to go into minutiae of the all the food loving tidbits liberally sprinkled throughout the storyline. I’ll leave them for you to discover, but prepare yourself for massive amounts of food porn. Aside from a couple of logistical issues involving mobile food licensing (It’s a sore subject for me ok!) that felt simplified for storytelling purposes, it was a masterpiece. No wait. It was a KC Master-piece!
Have you ever heard a film nerd speak excitedly about all the nods that occur in every super hero movie? It’s pretty impressive, especially since I love comics and I still miss half of the stuff until I watch them 6 months later on the Screen Junkies YouTube channel after a night of heavy libation consumption. If you’re sharp and pay attention throughout the film, you’ll find lots of food related easter eggs, not to mention all the references and cameos along the way. I left smiling from ear to ear. Even the soundtrack is well thought out. I hope you all search it out and enjoy the movie half as much as me and Jimmy did. We both agree, for us, it’s a film that will be on constant rotation for years to come.
I realize the initial buzz for the film has probably been reduced to a low simmer. That doesn’t matter here. We just want to share our thoughts with you guys. I for one am so glad I waited to see it at the exact moment I did, in a half full theater just outside of Norman, OK. There were audible gasps of delight and wonderment when food that was clearly not the norm in this area was served on screen. It was a great reaction and I felt proud. As the movie’s theatrical run is all but over over, look for it on demand as well as a DVD release on September 30. Or…use other nefarious ways to procur a viewing. I
Before I go, I have to say one thing, because I know it will be a sore subject to some. If you’re reading this and you saw the movie, you’ll understand. Yo Favreau! Where’s the salami bro?