What a delightful surprise in the kitchen. There’s a reason Chef has become a word-of-mouth hit.  Now out on Blu-ray, the indie flick with an all-star cast turns out to be one of the best films of the year by just being super charming, clever, and original.

The story looks pretty simple on paper: a chef loses his s*** when he gets a bad review from a food critic and has to restart his career with a food truck.   Doesn’t sound terribly stimulating, but it’s all in the recipe. Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man and star of Swingers, has written himself the best role of his career. Playing Chef Carl Casper, Favreau is charismatic and relaxed as a guy just trying to get it his career right, while also trying to figure out social media.  The strongest aspect of the film is the relationship between Carl and his son, Percy (played by Emjay Anthony).  It’s a funny and refreshing relationship made up of great dialogue.  Percy trying to explain Twitter to his Dad is pretty hilarious, and also touching how much enjoyment he gets out of teaching his Dad.

CHEF_09324_9325_COMP.JPGWhile she’s hilariously over-the-top on Modern FamilySofia Vergara underplays her role as Carl’s ex-wife and she radiates on screen.  Favreau recruits a lot of his friends to take on the bit parts.  Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr. turns up for a cameo, while the Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson plays a hostess in Casper’s restaurant.  Bobby Cannavale is hilarious as one of the kitchen staff, and Dustin Hoffman has a ball playing the owner of the restaurant. John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, and Russell Peters all add to the stellar cast.  The constant parade of recognizable faces in small roles might have felt like stunt casting, but everyone is so invested that it works.

Favreau keeps the film moving with great comedic timing.  You literally just sit there with a smile on your face for the whole flick, and sometimes that’s all you need from a movie. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary or change your life. It can just simply entertain you with a great story, and fantastic performances.  Chef should be on everyone’s menu.

Grade:  A

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