“Chefs are the most impatient perfectionists I’ve ever met and people love them for it. That’s what leads to perfection and pride.” – Jon Favreau
“Chefs are the most impatient perfectionists I’ve ever met and people love them for it. That’s what leads to perfection and pride.” – Jon Favreau
The recent news that Royal Caribbean had installed a “food truck” on one of its ships was at once paradoxical — the truck, such as it is, is not going to be mobile — and perfect. If the least hip enterprise in the world, one so terminally uncool that its associations among a certain set of the general public is a mocking David Foster Wallace essay, has discovered food trucks, was there anyone on earth who hadn’t heard of them?
Apparently not Hollywood, where food trucks are novel enough to bolster a would-be summer hit. “Chef,” Jon Favreau’s star vehicle and directorial follow-up to “Iron Man 2? and “Cowboys & Aliens,” is a low-fi film about a star gourmand whose life changes when he quits the restaurant where he’s been making basic Gallic-inflected classics and takes a food truck on the road to America’s hippest enclaves (Austin’s South Congress district features heavily). His truck serves simple Cuban food — the movie fetishizes it. Close-ups of bread being brushed with butter and spread with mustard abound. Yum! But, also, so? Such food could be consumed about anywhere in the cities — Austin, Miami, Los Angeles. It’s the truck that makes it magic — at least, on-screen.
There’s a lot that’s fantastical about “Chef,” not least that the lumbering Favreau has romantic history with Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara. But what’s strangest is the notion that a food truck would incite a national frenzy as it makes its way across the country. Favreau’s on-screen son (played by the terminally cute Emjay Anthony) manages the truck’s social media, “tweeting out” its forthcoming locations and photos of its cuisine. It’s a story of what success looks like as framed through a rudimentary understanding of hipness: Social media is a happening thing, and so too is food served from a truck. The dining public will race to try whatever is new, even if it’s served in a manner that’s both somewhat inconvenient and so tired it’s almost asleep.
What was the food truck? It’s hardly a new phenomenon — they’ve been choking lanes in pedestrian thoroughfares for years — but some combination of a burgeoning foodie culture and an endless-recession emphasis on thrift have brought them to the fore as, effectively, restaurants. Prior to their reinvention as a mobile, gustatory signifier for that which is cool, they were the most efficient way to distribute simple food out there. That the trucks’ most ardent fans can track trucks’ progress online to ensure they’re first in line is a fairly recent invention for a vehicle that once ensured simply that time-strapped workers could get food as close as the curb.
There’s a twee effect at work here; food trucks are able to charge a markup or get placed in novel locations simply by dint of their veneer of hipness. Something utilitarian, a mobile restaurant able to serve a varied clientele quickly and economically, has been digested as kitschy fun. A sausage-and-hot-dog station on a cruise ship would surely be business-as-usual, if unseasonably heavy cuisine, but throw in a truck and there’s an added layer of cool.
The most au courant element of “Chef” is the equivalence it draws between high cuisine and the most simple kind of cooking. A chef, frustrated with the strictures of contemporary restaurant scene, breaks free and serves elegantly prepared, simple food to his hungry public. The duality the movie sets up — the notion that only through taking a food truck on the road can one truly be in tune with what the people want to eat — is fairly ridiculous. After all, “Chef” ends with the food-truck purveyor returning home, after having cruised around in his truck, and picking up his mail; on top of the stack is a copy of David Chang’s magazine Lucky Peach. Chang is a chef whose catholic approach to tasty food has started a real evolution. He has a bricks-and-mortar restaurant informed by street culture, a recipe for success that second-generation “food trucks” are now aping.
Find the entire article at Salon.com <here>
LOS ANGELES, CA – Most successful filmmakers don’t go back to school in the midst of their careers. But at 47, Jon Favreau decided that if he was going to get the smallest details right in “Chef” — and as any cook knows, the best dishes are defined by the littlest things — he had to learn a thing or two. So he called food truck maven Roy Choi, who enrolled Favreau in culinary school and then brought him in to work in Choi’s kitchens.
Before long, the “Iron Man” director was handling knives and plating dishes as if he had worn a chef’s coat for years.
Opening May 9, “Chef” is Favreau’s love letter to food and, more forcefully, the people who cook it. A foodie who is now prone to smoke his own briskets for 14 hours and is installing a wood-fired pizza oven in his remodeled kitchen, Favreau was forever trying to work a chef into one of his movies but couldn’t make the fit. “There’s something really authentic and sincere about cooking,” Favreau said. “And it looks really good on film.”
In “Chef,” which he wrote, directed and stars in, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a talented cook who has settled into turning out mediocre food that is no more daring than French onion soup, lobster risotto, frisée salad and chocolate lava cake. After Casper has a very public falling-out with the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman), he tries to reinvent himself not only as a chef but also as a parent, taking his young son on a culinary road trip as Casper teams with a loyal assistant (John Leguizamo) to launch a food truck specializing in pressed Cuban pork sandwiches.
As many chefs will tell you, when Hollywood tries to dish up a restaurant movie, the results are often about as appetizing as curdled custard: The few food movies that get it right — “Mostly Martha,” “Big Night,” “Eat Drink Man Woman” and even “Ratatouille” top most lists — are dwarfed by those that get it wrong, typically by making food preparation look too pretty.
After writing the script but before filming commenced, Favreau hired Choi — best known for his Kogi taco truck — as his food consultant. “And I told him, ‘If I’m going to do this, we really need to honor the craft and the code of cooking,'” Choi said.
They soon started talking about how a kitchen is run: It’s not as strict as the army, but there’s a military precision to its organization and chain of command. More important, chefs typically pursue cooking less as a career than as a calling. What matters most is the satisfaction on a diner’s face, and the joy of working with great ingredients. “When a chef sees a big bag of shallots, he’s excited that he gets to peel them and use them,” Favreau said. “That’s something I never thought of.”
After honing his knife and saucing skills in a weeklong culinary school crash-course — “You’re not coming into my kitchen until you’re trained,” Choi told him — Favreau spent a couple of months working alongside his mentor, starting with the most menial tasks. “I had him work an eight-hour shift, just prepping,” Choi said of an underling’s work preparing ingredients. “You can’t make a movie about a chef if you don’t understand what it is to be a cook.”
Find the entire article at the LA Times <here>
Reuters – Actor, director and screenwriter Jon Favreau traded the high-flying super hero antics of his “Iron Man” movies for a quieter new film about a celebrated chef who quits his job at a top-flight restaurant and takes to the road in a food truck.
“Chef,” a small-budget, independent comedy with a big-name cast, including Iron Man veterans Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, made its premiere at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin this weekend.
It will open nationwide in the United States on May 9.
For Favreau, “Chef” helped cleanse his palate after directing the first two of the three Iron Man films, which have a combined world box office of more than $1 billion. The movie also comes ahead of what will likely be his next expensive project, an adaption of “The Jungle Book.”
“If you are spending in excess of $100 million on something, you better make sure that you make that money back,” Favreau told Reuters.
“When you are doing something for a fraction of that, the smaller you make the movie, the smaller the risk, and the more specific the audience can be.”
His new movie is more of a personal story about a chef named Carl Casper pushed out of his kitchen due social media gaffes that spiral out of control and conflicts with the restaurant owner, played by Dustin Hoffman.
At the heart of the film is the troubled relationship between Casper and his son, who has been living with his mother after a divorce.
“This movie deals with issues that coincide with the stage in life where I am, specifically fatherhood and the prioritization of family over career,” Favreau said.
To keep costs down, the A-list actors were paid the bare minimum and the special effects of his previous films have been traded for close-ups of the knife work used in preparing food for the kitchen.
Gratuitous shots of mouth-watering dishes take the place of massive explosions.
To get the feel of the movie right, Favreau enlisted the help of Roy Choi, who rose to fame by starting up a food truck that served Korean influenced tacos.
“Maybe the food truck does not have as much money as being a big chef, but you never have to compromise your visions,” Choi said.
Choi helped Favreau learn the tricks of the trade and said by the end of the film, the star was cooking all the food for the scenes in the movie.
Favreau said putting the script together for this movie brought back memories of “Swingers,” the 1996 comedy he wrote about unemployed actors and a swing dance revival that helped propel him and co-star Vince Vaughn to prominence.
“I have a lot of really, really good eight-page scripts and then you forget what you are doing,” he said.
On both films, Favreau kept going – plugging away for about two weeks each and coming away with an entire story.
“The big movies have to appeal to everybody, young or old, male or female, every market around the world to get their money back,” Favreau said.
“But little ones like this you can make for you and an audience that can connect with it more personally,” he said.
Find original article by Reuters <here>
LOS ANGELES, CA – Jon Favreau tweeted out some behind the scene footage of his upcoming movie Chef which is about a chef who opens up his own mobile food business after he is fired from the restaurant he is working at (sound familiar?). The tweets included the name of the truck, El Jefe Cubanos.
The Daily Mail also has photos of Sofia Vergara wearing an El Jefe t-shirt; Vergara plays Favreau’s ex-wife in the film. Below, a Vine of the truck (featuring a Kogi truck cameo).
FOX’s hit unscripted series HELL’S KITCHEN is back again as Chef Gordon Ramsay looks for the BEST of the BEST to work beside him in the hottest kitchen on Earth! We’re in search of America’s culinary elite who not only have the skills but the stamina to cook alongside the infamous, CHEF GORDON RAMSAY.
HELL’S KITCHEN will follow the chefs 24/7 through the perils of working in Chef Ramsay’s pressure-filled restaurant, capturing the wrath, emotion and adrenaline rush that comes with cooking in a top-notch restaurant. Contestants will have to prove they have the endurance and skills to work with Chef Ramsay as they are pushed to their limits.
CASTING is searching for culinary candidates, 21 and over, who are outspoken, competitive and can stand the HEAT in one of the MOST EXCLUSIVE and TOUGHEST kitchens in the world. Applicants must be passionate, skilled at their craft, and aim to become the next winner of HELL’S KITCHEN.
Please print out your completed casting application and bring with you to your open call.*
*(Upon submission of your application, you will receive a confirmation message with all of your submitted information in the body of the email. Please print this and bring with you.)
Please bring your CHEF COAT & CULINARY/RESTAURANT RESUME.
You will NOT be cooking at the auditions.
Please do NOT bring any cooking utensils.
Date: Tuesday, June 18, & Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Location: Riverside City College Culinary Academy
Address: 1155 Spruce St., Riverside CA 92507
Phone Number: 951-328-3807 (directions only)
Date: Saturday, June 22, 2013
Location: Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel – Promenade Ballroom
Address: 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140
Parking: It is $17/day for valet at the hotel, or there is a public parking structure next door for $1/hr
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Location: Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill
Address: 10110 Technology Blvd. East, Dallas, TX 75220
(for NY, NJ, CT, and Philly)
Date: Monday, June 24, 2013
Location: The Westin Philadelphia
Address: 99 S. 17th St. (btwn Market & Chestnut), Philadelphia, PA 19103
Date: Tuesday, June 25, & Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Location: Dos Lagos Stadium 15 Theatres
Address: 2710 Lakeshore Drive, Corona, CA 92883
Phone Number: 951-603-0967 (directions only)
Date: Monday, July 1
Location: Le Cordon Bleu Hollywood
Address: 6370 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Date: Monday, July 1, 2013
Location: Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Caesars Palace
Address: 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Date: Monday, July 8, 2013
Time: 9:00am-3:00pm (tentative)
Location: Abby Lane
Address: 255 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116
Date: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Location: Hard Rock Nashville
Address: 100 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201 (Second Ave. and Broadway)
Find all of the details and application to this season’s Hell’s Kitchen casting <here>
Robert Downey Jr.’s future in the Marvel Universe may be in doubt, but that’s not stopping him from starting work on a new project. And for his next movie, he’ll be teaming up with Jon Favreau, his colleague on the three “Iron Man” pictures.
Downey has signed on for the lead role in “Chef,” an independent comedy to be directed by Favreau, who has also written the screenplay and will co-star. In the movie, Downey will play a chef at an upscale restaurant who loses his job and has a falling out with his family. The chef starts over by starting a food truck, and tries to heal his relationship with his family as he puts his career back on track.
Downey has expressed an interest in doing smaller, independent projects in between superhero vehicles, and “Chef” will give him a chance to do just that. It should also give him a fun way to occupy himself while he continues negotiations with Marvel Studios; Downey’s contact with Marvel was concluded with “Iron Man 3,” and gossip has it that Downey is willing to return to play Tony Stark in future projects, but only if the money is right. Given Marvel’s well-documented reluctance to part with a dollar, it’s an open question if he’ll be in “The Avengers 2″ or “Iron Man 4.” (Though since “Iron Man 3″ is currently on track to a worldwide gross of over a billion dollars within the next few weeks, giving Downey another few million would seem like a safe investment.)
“Chef” will also star Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Bobby Cannavale, and is being financed by Aldamisa Entertainment in partnership with Kilburn Media. No studio is currently attached to release the picture, but given the talent on board, getting someone to pick up the picture should be no problem at all.
“Setting a film in the culinary world of Los Angeles offers wonderful opportunities for a character driven comedy.” – Jon Favreau
Production will begin July 8 in Los Angeles. Chef comes to theaters in 2015
As if the sacrifice from working too many hours per day in a bustling food truck full of sharp objects and fire wasn’t enough, many cooks in the mobile food industry have taken to tattoos as enthusiastically as they took to providing food to the masses. Ask these inked mobile chefs what their tats have to do with their profession, and you’ll likely get a shrug in response. Some have them because they can; because most customers will walk away from their truck satisfied by a delicious meal, no matter what the chef or cook in the kitchen looks like. Some have them because they’re rock stars at heart. Some have them to cover the burn marks.
With that said, we would like to invite food truck owners to submit photos of your food related ink to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them along with the story behind the ink with our readers.
Have you ever had an employee show up for work in a dirty, wrinkled or smelly uniform? Any veteran of in the food service industry has seen this before and have all heard the same excuses, “I didn’t have time to wash my uniform,” or “It was the only shirt or apron I could find.” If image means anything to you, your food truck staff are at the front lines of your businesses overall image.
In an email survey we sent out to our readers, we asked “What a dirty, wrinkled or smelly uniform on a food truck staff member mean to you when you go out to eat?” The common answer was that it indicated that the truck and its kitchen were likely to be dirty too, or that it showed a lack of care and attention to detail. Further, most indicated that it would be an additional factor as to whether they wanted to visit the food truck again.
A strict uniform policy will help safeguard your businesses image:
Stinky or smelly uniform: Showing up for work with a clean, ironed uniform should be part of your employee policy. A uniform service is often the best solution to this issue, but for those who don’t use a uniform service; this rule should be required among your staff. And by all means, perfume should always be off limits! Perfume masks the senses and prevents your customers from enjoying the value of their meal.
Wrinkled uniform: A wrinkled uniform represents untidiness among your staff. The respondents in our survey indicated that a wrinkled uniform reminded them of someone who had just crawled out of bed. Consider uniforms that are made of a polyester woven fabric that is easier to keep tidy.
Dirty or soiled uniform: Sure, we all know this almost unpreventable by the end of a shift. But at the beginning of a shift it is preventable. If your food truck staff spends any time working at the service window or outside of the truck make sure they change their aprons before they present themselves to your customers.
A solid uniform policy should be embedded with your hiring and training policies. A uniform that looks neglected speaks silently to your customers about the person wearing it. Unfortunately, the customers see a dirty, smelly, wrinkled uniform as a larger part of your whole operation, and usually incorporate that image into their overall experience at your truck. On the other side of the equation, a clean uniform implies the exact opposite: neat and clean atmosphere, with tidy and respectful service.
Having a uniform policy is a disciplinary issue that speaks volumes about the nature of your staff and your food truck business. It’s a policy that is relatively simple to enforce and maintain. Clean uniforms mean a clean food truck in the eyes of your customers which is another reason for them to keep coming back.