Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rockin' the movies

What do you suppose a chef and his foodie fiance do on their nights off together? Cook, of course, but sometimes we actually DO go out. Sometimes we will even splurge and see a movie. We're not big theater people, in fact, most of the time we wait for pay-per-view or Redbox before we see a movie. It's really got to be a great movie to drag us back to the city to endure the parking lot hassle and crowded theaters.

This summer we have been lured to the movies twice- twice! Not surprisingly, both times they were foodie movies. Figures, right? But seriously, how often does a movie come out that is totally centered around food? Not very often. In recent years I can only think of a couple wine-related movies that I've seen. Anyway, earlier this summer the first movie was released and after seeing the previews I KNEW we had to see it- Chef.

If you haven't heard of it, it's the story of an executive chef in an upscale Los Angeles restaurant who struggles with the confines of an overbearing and inflexible boss. Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry surely has worked for just such an individual- stuck on their old ideas, resistant to change, "my way or the highway." Such is the premise of Chef. Jon Favreau shines as the under-appreciated Chef Carl Casper. 

Knowing that a very influential restaurant critic is visiting the restaurant, Chef Casper steps out on a creative limb to create an amazing menu for the critic to enjoy, just to be forced to follow the boss' old and outdated menu. The review is devastating, and the story unfolds from there. As Chef Casper reinvents himself as a food truck owner, his life also evolves, and we get to go on a cross-country ride with him, his friend Martin and son Percy.

The movie features an incredible cast of actors- Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Robert Downey, Jr., and more. Watching the story unfold reminded me of the many, many times my own Chef has come home from work, disgusted with the inflexibility of some bosses, obvious inexperience of others and just discouraging nights in a restaurant kitchen. The foodie in me was delighted by the food, the creation of amazing flavors, the flashy knifework, the amazing market in L.A., the recreation of himself by Chef Casper, and, of course, the happy ending. Chef made me want to chuck my job and get a food truck! 

Now on the the second movie. Summer might be winding down, but finally our little small town theater got The Hundred-foot Journey. Everything about this movie spoke to me- the French countryside, the food, the European lifestyle, the meshing of cultures, the food, the beautiful location and music, the food, the building of friendships, the overcoming of seemingly insurmountable odds, and oh yes- the food!

This story....... to me was so much more than just the feuding of two restaurant owners. Yes, there was plenty of that which became quite escalated, but the growing friendship between people of such vastly different cultures, united in a shared passion- food, spoke to me on such a deeper level. The human story is so moving and the cast is just perfect for the characters they played. Except for Helen Mirren, these actors were unknown to me, yet felt like old friends by the end of the film. Yes, some of the plot is a little expected, but it's a wonderful story with characters I really loved. And you just have to see the food!!! From the very opening scenes, the simple snack provided by Marguerite to the amazing molecular gastronomy in the Paris restaurant, the food is tres encroyable! I seriously wanted to go home and cook!

Please please please- if you have not seen these movies, please do. Please please do. You're obviously reading this blog because you have an interest in food and food culture- get out there and explore it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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