No, not the one with Jon Favreau and the food truck. Sadly, still not the one with Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara. Instead, France’s Le Chef hinges on the always appealing talent of The Professional himself, Jean Reno. Falling into the strangely popular food-porn genre that is all the rage at the moment – think Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey or, yes, even Ratatouille – Le Chef delivers on the promise of a culture and a cuisine. Paris is exhibited in all its romantic glory and the food is done up in its seductive best, beautifully lit and tantalizingly displayed. Like all such movies, the film is enough to get any foodie ravenous and has endearing, if simple, performances, from the cast.
Alexandre Lagarde (Reno) is the head chef of a renowned French restaurant, still at top star ratings, but losing money every day due to Lagarde’s unwillingness to save money on cheaper ingredients. As the son of his former partner, Stanislas Matter (Julien Boisselier) moves to get the restaurant downgraded a star, which would enable him to toss Lagarde and convert the restaurant to fit his own ideal, Lagarde comes to terms with the fact that he has to evolve with the times or lose everything. As luck would have it, young Jacky (Michael Youn) is an upstart chef with strong passions; he has just been fired for berating customers who wanted red wine with fish instead of white. Coincidentally painting Lagarde’s house to pay for his pregnant wife, the two chefs meet and overcome their differences to serve up the best Paris has to offer.
The film is a brisk 84-minutes and the appetizing scenery keeps things moving along. Like most modernist restaurants, the priority isn’t on portion size, but instead on expansive flavors in small tastes that keep you wanting more. Sideways heralded another wave of foodie films and, while Le Chef may not be the genre’s best, it delivers for those devotees of the limited theatrical release in your friendly neighborhood cinema; after a three-course meal and bottle of wine, of course.
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES
A full course meal: theatrical trailer, “Two Chefs” featurette, interviews, bloopers, and deleted scenes.
"Le Chef" is on sale October 21, 2014 and is rated PG13. Comedy, cooking, Foreign. Directed by Daniel Cohen. Written by Daniel Cohen and Oliver Dazat. Starring Jean Reno, Julien Boisselier, Michael Youn.