Jon Favreau parlayed his wit and affability into an interesting interview program back in 2001 called Dinner For Five. The idea was for Favreau, known at the time mainly for his acting in Swingers, to talk shop with four friends who were also in show business. The conversations were not all riveting but the notion of gathering around the dinner table to talk about common passions is appealing (My Dinner with Favreau?). Food and passion are at the center of Favreau's latest film, Chef, a nicely constructed tale of family, friends, fortunes and forgiveness that features some of the most lovingly crafted scenes of food preparation I've seen since Babette's Feast (1987). Favreau, who is writer and director of this delightful picture, stars as L.A chef Carl Casper, who runs the kitchen of a high-dollar boite owned by the unimaginative Riva (Dustin Hoffman). Casper wants to explore the culinary landscape but is shutdown by Riva and, subsequently, is pummeled by a local food blogger who describes Casper's cuisine as "cloying." Though Casper is professionally stunted that's nothing compared with the disappointment he feels in his relationship with his 10-year-old son, Percy (a perfectly casted Emjay Anthony), who delivers many of the film's most genuinely touching and insightful moments. Favreau gets enormous (and enormously loving) support in this venture from John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale and Sofia Vergara. I'm disappointed that Scarlett Johansson was cast in a relatively small role that did not require the amperage that she inevitably brings. Highly recommended but be sure to eat before you go.


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