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Is Chef Based on a True Story?


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Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ is, without a doubt, one of the best movies about food that you will ever see. The 2014 film revolves around Carl Casper, the head chef of a popular high-end eatery who has become disenchanted and dissatisfied with his work. After a very public meltdown and an altercation with a food critic, Carl suddenly finds himself jobless. He flies back to his hometown of Miami with his ex-wife and 10-year-old son. While there, the Chef rediscovers his passion for food.

Freshly inspired, Carl buys a food truck and embarks on the journey of a lifetime – a culinary road trip across the United States, making his way back to Los Angeles with his son and devoted sous chef. The film’s lighthearted premise, sincerity, and some amazingly mouth-watering dishes might make you wonder: is the story of Carl Casper true? Let’s find out!

Is Chef Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Chef’ is not based on any true story. The movie’s story is written by Jon Favreau (who also acted in, produced, and directed the film) and is a work of fiction. While the character of Carl Casper or a food truck named El Jefe does not exist in real life, it is true that the film takes inspiration from Favreau’s own experiences. The script that he penned is a semi-autobiographical account of his own life, drawing parallels between Carl’s story and Favreau’s.

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Like Carl, Favreau is a father who leads a super busy professional life. Like Carl, Favreau also comes from a “broken home.” There are also similarities in the career trajectories of Carl and Favreau (who took a step down from directing big-budget movies to make an indie film), and also of Roy Choi, ‘Chef’s’ co-producer, real-life chef, and consultant-in-chief for the project. LA-based chef Roy Choi worked in five-star establishments, but he quit that to start a food truck business by the name of Kogi (back in 2008).

‘Chef’ is loosely inspired by Chef Choi’s food truck experiences as well. His Korean-Mexican taco truck Kogi was birthed at Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Los Angeles. The same place also features prominently in the movie ‘Chef.’ Choi is one of the few who can be credited with bringing about the gourmet food truck movement in America. Jon Favreau brought Choi on board as consultant and collaborator for the movie and also trained himself under Choi, cooking in his restaurants’ kitchens.

In fact, when Favreau was researching the film, he talked to several chefs who had quit their well-paying jobs and started their own food truck operations. Apparently, most of them were dissatisfied with the kind of food they were cooking for someone else and needed an outlet to execute their vision and showcase their creativity. So, even though the film ‘Chef’ is not directly based on any true story or real person, it seems to have been vaguely inspired by the experiences of its creator and other culinary artists.

Read More: Where Was Chef Filmed?

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