Life Lessons From The Kitchen Or How Many Potatoes Jon Favreau Had To Peel Before Making "Chef"
What director Jon Favreau learned during his time preparing for "Chef".
While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to have the blockbuster shtick covered this weekend, Jon Favreau’s Chef seems to be gaining some buzz in the “well-loved indie” category. Chef will be out in theaters May 9 and Favreau is currently doing the press song and dance to promote the film. During his press rounds, Favreau spoke to the LA Times, explaining his unusual process of preparing for the film. Spoiler: it included actually graduating from cooking school, in order to be as faithful as possible to the real experience of life in the kitchen.
An ode to food and the people, who make it.
In "Chef," which he wrote, directed and stars in, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a talented cook who has settled into turning out mediocre food that is no more daring than French onion soup, lobster risotto, frisée salad and chocolate lava cake. After a major falling out with the owner of his restaurant, Casper decides to start a reinvention – in the culinary and spiritual sense. He takes his son on a foodie road trip and makes a plan to with a loyal assistant (John Leguizamo) to launch a food truck specializing in pressed Cuban pork sandwiches.
To prepare for the role, Favreau went deep into the bowels of the kitchen.
After writing the script, Favreau enlisted the help of food truck pioneer Roy Choi, in order to learn chef etiquette, the ins and outs of the cooking business and most of all, what makes chefs tick. Chef has been a pet project of Favreau’s for a long time – in one form or another, as the director really wanted to pay tribute to the people behind the food. There is also the fact that, as every cooking show enthusiast knows, food preparation just makes for great entertainment. .
"There's something really authentic and sincere about cooking," Favreau said. "And it looks really good on film."
By hiring Choi, Favreau intended to pay homage to the cooking business, all while keeping things as fast paced and authentic as possible – and definitely not too pretty. Choi himself is best known for his Kogi taco truck.
"And I told him, 'If I'm going to do this, we really need to honor the craft and the code of cooking,'" Choi said.
After honing his knife and saucing skills in a weeklong culinary school crash-course — "You're not coming into my kitchen until you're trained," Choi told him — Favreau spent a couple of months working alongside his mentor, starting with the most menial tasks. "I had him work an eight-hour shift, just prepping," Choi said of the director’s demotion to an underling, preparing ingredients. "You can't make a movie about a chef if you don't understand what it is to be a cook."
Behind the scenes of Chef.
Favreau’s training also included working the line, at Choi's Chego!, Sunny Spot and inside a Kogi truck.
If you’re going to see Chef when it opens in theaters, it might help to know that all the knife work is actually Favreau’s, as is the spaghetti aglio et olio, which Scarlett Johansson eats at one point in the film.