The Chef, written and directed by Daniel Cohen (Les Deux Mondes 2007) who is better known as an actor has acquitted himself well here. This is probably best described as a romantic comedy in the sense of a light nice story line regarding the following of one’s dreams and aspirations; there is at least one marriage proposal, but that’s only in support of the overall story.
What we have in this movie is a young self-trained chef “jacky Bonnot” ( Michaël Youn, Les 11 Comandements, 2004) who cannot keep down a steady job because his standards are too high and as such often takes offence at the eating habits of his customers when they order the wrong wine or side accompaniment to the main dish. With a child on the way and a large overdraft he needs to find regular work, his girlfriend manages to arrange a six month contract painting windows at an upmarket retirement home.
Meanwhile Alexandre Legarde (Jean Reno) is a multiple starred chef in the restaurant holding his name. The only problem is that he no longer owns the establishment, having sold it to in international restaurant chain. The chain wants Legarde to modernise his menu and include a selection of modern gastro dishes which he is totally against. The powers are bringing in a new English chef to provide a modern ambience . With only a matter of days before he has to launch his spring menu the pressure is on – can he keep his stars and reputation.
Circumstances bring the two chefs together at the retirement home where Legarde is visiting his old mentor who also happens to be the father of the owner of the restaurant chain now in command. Jacky has struck-up a friendship with the home’s chefs and they have tried some of his recipe suggestions, one of those recipes is one developed by Legarde some years previously but with some slight modifications which actually work. Legarde offers his the job as his deputy immediately ( the company owning his establishment has offered his deputies head chef roles in restaurants around the world which they obviously took, leaving him short key staff)
I’m trying not to give too much away here, as it is one of those movies which just swims along and it is best if you just follow the current with it. The two men start working together, along the way they must save relationships, create the new menu, keep the restaurant out of the English chef’s hands and keep their sanity.
The long awaited/feared arrives and a menu is presented; but does it work? Watch and find out.
Reno is one of those actors who can turn his hands to different characters from hard, in-control assassins, police investigators to hapless husbands. Best known internationally for his roles in productions such as Leon (1994), Ronin (1998) or Crimson Rivers (Les Rivières Pourpres, 2000), I would consider Roseanna’s Grave (1997) as one of my favourite of his roles.
Michaël Youn who plays Jacky is a well known comedian in France and his talent shows. Typical of what I think is a very French way the comic hero is almost manic with his straight man being calm and solid but no less flawed and open to the help of the junior partner. Such is the nature of this movie that you know the ending almost from the start, you know it is going to be a happy ending, the only question is how do they make it happen? This movie answers that question in a relaxed almost comfortable manner which brings the viewer along with the offering.
Rating = 6/10, a firm 3 star rating, it entertains as well as making you hungry, just perfect for a night in with that special somebody.