They Really Got Cookin'24 Sep, 2014 By: Stephanie Prange
The film Chef featured an uncredited star: the food.
“Food became part of the story,” said Jon Favreau, who directed, wrote and starred in the acclaimed feature about a man’s journey to regain his passion through cooking on a food truck.
“We ended up just cooking in the movie,” added chef Roy Choi, who also starred in the film. “The movie is a movie about a chef, but in a weird way the food didn’t become a prop, but a part of the story.”
Favreau, Choi and young star Emjay Anthony showed off their culinary skills Sept. 23 by making Cuban sandwiches to celebrate the Sept. 30 Blu-ray and DVD release of the film by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
“The trick for acting is always to find some busy work and, if you have that busy work, you are never lying,” Favreau said. “It was a gift to have the naturalism.”
Favreau, who said cooking previously had seemed a chore, took lessons from Choi.
“Roy taught me how to cook and get me ready for looking like I knew what I was doing on a food truck,” he said.
In the process, Favreau gained an appreciation for the meticulous techniques employed by the best chefs.
“The whole first lesson was about how you tie your apron,” he noted. “He would get mad at me because I wasn’t holding the spoon right. All those details were I think what brought the authenticity to the film.”
The elaborate sauces, marinades and smoking techniques felt like a magical chemistry to Favreau.
“You start to feel like a wizard, that you are learning this alchemy,” he said.
Favreau felt if he could please chefs, then the movie would be a success with the broader audience.
“You’ve really got to play to the base first,” he said, likening it to pleasing Marvel fans with his “Iron Man” films. “If you lose the people who are experts in what the movie is about, the movie never feels genuine.
“The chefs, they are a very tough crowd, and I was happy that all the ones that we spoke to who saw the film connected with what we did.”
Why did he choose to feature Cuban cuisine?
“There’s something really magical about Cuban culture to me because there’s a romance to it in America because it’s an exiled culture and it’s a culture frozen in time in the ’50s,” he said. “I love the ’40s, the ’50s, that romantic view of the past. I love that this passionate culture takes over somebody who has lost his inspiration.”