Civic Imagination


"Chef" is a film released in 2014 that was written and directed by Jon Favreau who was inspired by his own career in film and love of the culinary arts to create a movie about a popular chef who needs to find his creative spark and fall in love with cooking once more. The film begins in California where Chef Carl Casper lives and works. After receiving a brutally negative review from a well regarded food critic, Carl reevaluates his job at a fancy restaurant in California. He realized that sticking to a strict menu has taken away a lot of joy from the profession he used to love. After he quits his job, Carl heads to Miami, Florida with his family because his ex-wife, Inez, needs him to watch their son, Percy, while she works.

It is here in Florida that Carl is compellingly presented with the idea of starting his own food truck. He becomes very excited at the prospect that he could make Cubano sandwiches, a food he remembers with great fondness from his start cooking in Miami. He names the truck “El Jefe,” and takes Percy and his good friend and fellow cook, Martin, along for a road trip to bring the truck from Florida to California.

The group stops in a few key locations on the way home, and Percy becomes a master at bringing crowds to the truck by utilizing social media very effectively. Carl starts to bond with his son for the first time in a long time, and he finally feels passion for cooking again. Near the end of the film, Percy shares a ""one second of every day"" video with his father that he made of their trip. Carl is so touched by this video that he allows his son to continue to help him run the truck on the weekends."" 

I saw trailers for this film with my family, and we all became very excited to see it. Jon Favreau has always been one of my favorite directors, and a story drawing from Florida and Cuban culture drew my family in because we can relate strongly to this subject matter having lived in Florida for so long. When I finally saw this film in theaters, I immediately fell in love. The whole story made me feel happy and inspired. It painted family, culture, food, and social media in the most optimistic and positive light. The script focused on the best of people, and called for anyone to be doing something they truly love with their life. The story resonates with me so strongly because I have a family of foodies who absolutely love to travel. Jon Favreau created something of a love letter to some wonderful cities in America, and having been to just under 40 of the states, it made me happy to see some of the places I love most portrayed in such a fond and enthusiastic way. I also grew up eating Cuban food, so getting to see the mouthwatering food cinematography in this film was wonderful as well. This story is not very broadly known, but I have spoken to people from all different cultures who have heard of it or watched it. Since it was a small film released for a short period of time, film lovers are the main people who will have sought this movie out. I have certainly shared the story with other people, as it is one of my favorite films and it makes me so happy to re-watch it with anyone who is willing to let me show it to them. "

 "This story can inspire someone to follow their dreams or passion. It can also inspire a value of family, an embrace of the positive powers of social media and new technologies, and an enthusiasm to learn about different cultures. I have not heard about this film being used to mobilize masses of people to action, but this is because the film is a bit more intimate than that, and it truly inspires on a personal level. I know that my cousin came out of the film feeling as though he should figure out how to do something he loves for a living. It certainly reinforced the career path I want to follow. Perhaps it has even changed the way some viewers use social media or interact with their own families. The beauty of Chef is that it can belong to anyone. Americans or Floridians might identify with the film more strongly, but the themes are very universal and optimistic. One of the people I shared this film with was my friend from college who has not traveled far from her hometown of Boston. America is the only country she truly knows from experience, and she definitely values her family highly. I knew she would enjoy the film because it is a celebration of some of the things she holds dear, and might end up being inspiring on other levels. "

  Clip inside the food truck: One Second Every Day video:

Chef, Florida, California, New Orleans, Texas, America, roadtrip, food, Cuban, family, passion, optimism, social media, enthusiasm, joy

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