Jon Favreau finds indie flavour in 'Chef'

John Leguizamo (L), Bobby Cannavale (C), and Jon Favreau in Chef. (Courtesy)

John Leguizamo (L), Bobby Cannavale (C), and Jon Favreau in Chef. (Courtesy)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

A famous chef walks away from a posh restaurant to be his own boss and find creative freedom with a funky food truck.

That's the premise of Chef, the new film from Jon Favreau, a famous filmmaker (Iron Man) who took a break from the blockbuster world to make this terrific little movie.

Wait — we smell a metaphor cooking.

Is this food-lovers movie really about being innovative in the world o' film?

"There are a number of similarities," says Favreau, 47, who wrote, directed and stars in Chef.

"This movie did feel like a little food-truck movie."

Noting that the big studio films offer lots of advantages, "But of course, less freedom," Favreau says that unlike his Chef character, he enjoys both sides of the equation.

"I do like to do something small, where I can do what I want, but then I get to go to work on something like Jungle Book next," he says, of the 2015 Disney live-action extravaganza he'll be directing.

"And on Iron Man I was able to tell a story using state of the art technology that lets you tell the story differently than has ever been done before."

Chef marks a return to the indie world, where Favreau made his mark before he became well-known for big Hollywood fare. The New York native was working in comedy when he started acting, and after landing a few roles in TV and in such films as Rudy (where he first worked with close friend Vince Vaughn) and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, he hit big with Swingers in 1996.

Favreau wrote, co-produced and starred in the indie hit.

He has also starred in Very Bad Things, The Replacements, Made, Daredevil, Elf, The Break-Up, Iron Man, Four Christmases, I Love You Man, Couples Retreat and The Wolf of Wall Street, among many other movies; he started directing TV movies and went on to direct such features as Made, Elf, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens.

Favreau's track record lets him make an independent film like Chef — but with a cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale and Sofia Vergara, not to mention Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris and Russell Peters. And superb child actor Emjay Anthony.

“Everybody had to work for very little money and we had a very short shooting schedule, because we wanted to do something that appealed to us, and that's not what Hollywood wants," says the filmmaker.

Chef is a subtle, grown-up comedy, "And Hollywood doesn't want subtle," says Favreau. "They want everybody to understand everything always," he jokes.

"And all those subtle notes that exist in real life are not permitted to exist in the Hollywood-created system."

A father of three with his physician wife Joya Tillem, Favreau says making Chef has had a spillover effect with his kids. The filmmaker really did learn his way around a kitchen (thanks to superchef mentor Roy Choi of Kogi taco truck fame). As a result, Favreau says, his seven-year-old daughter is now obsessed with cooking.

"They really have been involved with this every step of the way," he says of the kids. "Hopefully they'll find their inspiration in whatever feels essential to them, and not just feel that they should be following in their daddy's footsteps."

They don't want to be in his movies?

"I sneak them in where they can't be seen," Favreau says.

"They get to be a part of the process so much, but I think now that they're getting older, the novelty isn't there. They're off doing their own thing. You're never cool to your kids," he says, laughing. "You're never as cool at home as you are to the outside world. I hope they all find their own way."

In April, Chef won Tribeca's prestigious Heineken Audience Award, a $25,000 prize — which Favreau is donating to City Harvest, a food rescue group that feeds the hungry in New York City.

Email Liz


Videos

Photos