Writer/director Jon Favreau’s Chef (A-) is an ordinary story told extraordinarily about a man’s journey to the brink and back, set against a topical landscape blending the zest of cooking for a living, the zeitgeist of social media as a buzz builder for a restauranteur’s commerce, the influence of one’s family and friends on one’s well-being and keen observations about the melting pot of America with mixed families and split households struggling to make their spiritual soufflés rise with righteousness. Effective in the lead role, Favreau is a veritable lava cake of emotions in need of a new direction, and the story takes him from L.A. to Miami, New Orleans and Austin on a quest to reclaim his food, friends and fatherhood. Sofía Vergara as his ex and John Leguizamo as his kitchen mate are wonderful in supporting roles. Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr. and Dustin Hoffman all make high-impact cameos. It’s an emotional feast with laughs that surface naturally from the story. Check operating hours for your nearest Cuban cuisine before viewing, because you will want a Little Havana style sandwich after watching this film.
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