They say that the fastest way to the heart is through the stomach – a sentiment proved all too true by Jon Favreau’s latest film, “Chef.” Written, directed and starring Favreau, his latest indie effort tells the story of Carl Casper (Favreau), a chef who quits his job at a fancy L.A restaurant after being forced by the owner (Dustin Hoffman) to stifle his creativity time and time again. He them heads to Miami, and with the help of his son (Emjay Anthony), best friend (John Leguizamo) and ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), starts a food truck where he gets to cook food that he believes in. Favreau recently stopped by the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, where he shed some light on what inspired the story, his fascination with social media, and life after “Iron Man.”
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Favreau: I’m intrigued by food culture. It’s fascinating to me that chefs are like the new rock stars and people will watch hours and hours of television shows with food that they’ll never taste; they’re so intrigued by the specificity of the preparation and what the vision of each chef is. And I just felt that there hadn’t been a movie that showed that world yet.
One of my favorite aspects of this movie is how you incorporated social media. Why was this something that was important to you to include?
Favreau: Well I just felt that social media was part of the language now. I didn’t think of it as a social media movie, but it’s like back in the time when we were doing “Swingers,” the answering machine is a big part of that movie because that was part of the culture. And Twitter now is very much a part of the culture that we’re dealing with, and I thought that there was an opportunity to have good dramatic and comedic effect to show what could go wrong if somebody gets involved with social media who doesn’t know what he’s doing – especially if he’s somebody who is overly emotional and not too restrained.
Having “Iron Man” be ground zero for what has now become the Marvel Cinematic Universe, how does it feel looking back?
Favreau: It’s cool but it’s also very weird, because when we started with “Iron Man,” it was the first movie of Marvel Studios – Marvel Studios was a company that was going to make movies — negative pickup basically independent films with a bank loan, and have it be distributed through Paramount. And if we screwed up “Iron Man” the whole company could have gone under. So there was a lot of pressure on us, and nobody expected much of the name “Iron Man;” they never heard of it before. And now seeing that the audiences liked it, seeing the sequels make more and more money, and now expanding it out to “Captain America,” “Thor” and “The Avengers” – now they’re really on a roll. I’ve read that Marvel is the most successful franchise in movie history. So it’s very strange to watch something go from being an underdog to being part of the establishment. But I’m happy to be a part of that family and still continue to collaborate with them.
“Chef” hit Miami Beach theaters on May 9th.