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Chef
John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony and Jon Favreau in "Chef" | Merrick Morton Photo
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Chef
“Chef” Stars John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony and Jon Favreau at SXSW 2014 | Getty Photo

As we know, Jon Favreau’s been busy with some big movies (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Iron Man 3,” and so on). His indie love child “Chef” – South by Southwest’s opening night film – is food porn to the max with a side serving of Twitter.

Now that may sound like an insult, but let me assure you, I enjoyed the movie. However, as much as the Twitter component of the movie – complete with graphics and picture montages of the chefs’ adventures – took me out of the story leaving me wanting a little more emotion and a little less emoticon, the love and respect Favreau’s character shows to culinary arts is mouth watering.

Favreau plays Carl Casper, a Venice, California chef ousted by a nasty review from a famed food critic played by Oliver Platt. He’s obviously unhappy in his job, being stifled by the restaurant owner’s (Dustin Hoffman) demands to stick with the classics.

In a somewhat corny through-line, Casper has a strained relationship with his loveable son (Emjay Anthony), which begs the question: If he’s lovable and a good kid, why doesn’t Casper like him? Also, Casper’s ex-wife (a still insanely sexy but toned-down from “Modern Family’s” Mrs. Jay Prichett Sofia Vergara) is the nicest ex-wife you’ve ever seen in any movie. Period. Maybe that’s Favreau’s way of thinking outside the box.

I think what’s really important here is the sellability of this story and Favreau’s hand in it. Now it’s not going to win any awards, but I’ll bet money (a little at least) that its VOD sales will skyrocket and it will even have a hefty box office run.

“In one day, a whole idea for a movie came to me,” said Favreau at the Q&A after the premiere on Friday. “That hasn’t happened to me since ‘Swingers.'”

Well, we all know what happened with that movie.

And the reason that “Chef” may have the cult potential of Favreau’s breakout role/script from 1996, is because he took a couple of really popular ingredients at the moment – food porn and Twitter – mixed them in with a couple of time-tested ingredients – foul-mouthed, funny yet endearing leading men and lost parents with an amazing kid – and voila: a recipe for success. (I’ll stop with the food metaphors now.)

Chef
Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony and Sofia Vergara in “Chef” | Open Road Films

But about that kid. The acting skills of Anthony and his adorable dimples will really throw you for a loop. In what is a breakout performance for the 10-year-old newcomer, he had quite a responsibility to hold his own next to veterans like Favreau and co-star John Leguizamo.

“If this kid couldn’t do it, the movie would fall apart,” said Favreau. “The heart and soul of this movie is the relationship between father and son. And I didn’t tell him this at the time, but the whole second half of the film is through the eyes of the kid. That shift in perspective really caused him to carry the whole film. And I’m so impressed with the work that he did.”

“Chef” opens in limited release on May 9, 2014. It’s also one of the Spotlight films featured at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival.

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