Chef is a movie about restaurants and food trucks written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also plays the protagonist chef Carl Casper. He worked to accurately portray chefs’ lives via little details: His character has multiple forearm tattoos, wears a bandana, and lives in a messy apartment with a ridiculously nice kitchen. You can thank Roy Choi for the minutiae; he was a co-producer and consultant on the movie. But there are still plenty of things that happen in Chef that would never happen in real life, aside from the fact that it’s extremely unlikely Favreau would be able to attract Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson as love interests just by making some kick ass carne asada. Here are the top six things the movie got wrong.
6. The restaurant serves the same exact meal to a critic twice, and the team knew he was coming in both times.
Having Oliver Platt, brother of actual New York restaurant critic Adam Platt, star as Los Angeles’ most popular food blogger, Ramsey Michel, was a stroke of genius by the casting department. Perhaps Favreau should have consulted Adam, though, before writing the scene in which the kitchen serves the food blogger the same exact meal that he viciously berated in a review only a few days before. It’s hard to believe that a restaurant would invite a critic back in for a second chance only to drop the ball; it’s even harder to believe that the critic would actually agree to re-taste the dish.
5. The food truck has a permit ready to go in a matter of days.
Once Favreau’s life blows up over his Twitter jabs and dining room meltdown over the critic’s bad review, he gives up fine dining and picks up a food truck, which is magically ready to operate everywhere in the country almost instantaneously. We’ll give Favreau his artistic license here: In the real world, the amount of time it takes to file for and receive a permit to operate a food truck in multiple states would pretty much kill the rhythm of the film entirely.
4. There’s a 10 year old working the line.
Fun fact from the U.S. Department of Labor: “Children under 14 years of age may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including food service establishments.” That 10-year-old worked the (incredibly hot and probably extremely dangerous) line like a champ, though, and he refused to back down, even after burning his finger on a hot press.
3. The food truck pulls up wherever it wants, and there’s never any other competition.
El Jefe, Favreau’s truck, takes viewers on a cross-country road trip with stops in Miami, New Orleans, and Austin on its way to L.A. Thanks to its impressive child social media guru, it attracts a megacrowd, too, which flock to the truck when it parks wherever the crew feels like parking. Like right on South Beach. Or Frenchman Street. Or right outside an impromptu Gary Clark Jr. concert in Austin. Try that in real life, and you’ll soon be bleeding dollars to the local parking police.
2. The food truck is super profitable.
Turning a food truck or small restaurant into an empire is a real path to success — just ask Roy Choi, or Luke Holden, or any number of restaurateurs who started with a rolling kitchen and have continuously seen their influence grow. But the idea that Favreau turns one truck into a full-out restaurant in six months is…a bit ambitious, even if you ignore the lease and build-out time warp. Food trucks are expensive operations — and even with a legion of fans, making a chunk of change substantial enough to fund a brick-and-mortar takes a lot longer than a few month stretch.
1. The chef winds up becoming business partners…with the food critic that crushed him.
It’s not completely unheard of for a food writer to trade in the pen for a POS system, but the idea that Oliver Platt sold his food blog for tons of cash and purchased his own restaurant is laughable, beyond the fact that most bloggers (like me!) are broke. I’ve had some seriously transcendent plates of platanos, but none that’d make me give up my life’s work to go into business with a guy I’d previously crushed in a review.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 20, 2014