If you’re a foodie who (tries to) stay in the food culture loop, you must have heard that the indie film “Chef” was a smash hit. Spoilers ahead.
It’s a story about a chef whose creativity is hampered by the narrow-mindedness of the owner of the restaurant he works in. Forced to serve unexciting food from a 10-year-old menu to a famous food critic, the resulting negative reviews target the chef on a very personal note. He goes on a meltdown, quits the restaurant and floats aimlessly until he finally agrees to meet with his ex-wife’s first husband who provides him with an old food truck.
The chef cleans out and refits the truck with the help of his 10-year-old son and the sous chef from the old restaurant. The young son, well-versed in the dynamics of social media, markets the food truck via Twitter and money starts pouring in.
“Chef” is a feel-good movie. It relays the message that a person can keep his integrity and still be financially successful. The oddest twist in the plot is when the food critic who has since sold his blog for a lot of money offers to become the partner of the chef that he had lambasted so viciously in the past. Together, they open a restaurant on the heels of the success of the food truck, the chef re-marries his ex-wife and everyone lives happily ever after.
Despite the fairy tale approach, “Chef” makes even the most cynical moviegoer smile because of its unique approach to food and cooking.
While being a chef in a restaurant conjures images of perfectly plated food cooked with exotic ingredients, “Chef” shows us that cooking is not about lavishness but about passion even in the preparation of something as simple as grilled cheese sandwich.
In one of the best scenes of the film, the chef lovingly prepares a grilled cheese sandwich for his son. Even without a paying customer to impress, the chef pours just as much energy into the work, never scrimping and never taking short-cuts.
The film also tells every wanna-be chef that working in a big restaurant does not always have to be the ultimate goal. While being associated with a well known establishment may mean prestige, it does not always give the kind of fulfilment that one can get when allowed to explore, discover and create new things, and offer diners something exciting enough to want to forego the old.
It’s a life lesson that holds true for anyone, not just for those who cook for a living. And that’s how “Chef” won the hearts of movie goers. It delivered a very inspiring message. That the message was delivered via images of mouth-watering food is like ultra delicious icing on the cake.