I was originally asked to screen the newest “foodie” film "Chef" starring and directed by Jon Favreau because of my experience with food truck ownership.
Much like Favreau’s character Carl Casper I rose through the restaurant ranks to eventually own my own food truck and then a brick and mortar spot, all under the same name – Comida.
And much like Carl’s journey, the road was rocky and filled with the hilarity that can only come from rolling around on four wheels whilst making food that people will hopefully crave enough to eat while standing.
I admit to thinking I would hate the movie. I have always shied away from watching reality shows on food truck wars.
“Chef” was different.
Co-producer and food truck great Roy Choi’s input added an honest view into the experiences of Carl and his cast of misfits. Aside from the obvious “fast track” to licensing and outfitting of the food truck itself, and the fact that rolling across America and stopping on any street corner you like is generally illegal, the basics were pretty much right on.
It is fun to rock out street services and make new friends and followers. (My food truck business would be nowhere without Facebook and Twitter. No lie!) Though doing it without a commissary would be messy and take way more time and energy than the movie allows for.
Never mind the fact that the health departments of each county are real, and city and state sales tax departments are no joke. But this was a movie for entertainment purposes, not a documentary or reality show. And I was very honestly and pleasantly entertained.
The scene where the threesome (Carl, John Leguizamo’s Chef Martin and Carl’s son) are all singing and driving between stops reminded me of my crew and I driving home late as we jam out to Rhianna radio. And the scene where Chef Carl makes the grilled cheese sandwich at home had me drooling.
Overall I thought the movie was a fantastic balance between reality and fantasy. It reminded me of the things I love about my industry (making good food, being my own boss, working with amazing people that believe in Comida and our guests that make it possible every day.)
While it didn’t have the soulfulness of “Big Night” and “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Chef” captured the hard working, trail blazing entrepreneurial spirit of today’s chefs and food truck owners. Sometimes food is just food and getting it into the mouths of our followers isn’t an act of passion but practicality and perseverance.
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