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Review: ‘Le Chef’ Serves Up French Confection

Jean Reno Vs. Molecular Cuisine

Above: Michael Youn and Jean Reno display a passion for food in the French comedy, "Le Chef."

Aired 7/11/14 on KPBS News.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews the French comedy, "Le Chef."

Transcript

Last month, Jon Favreau served up a comedy about an American chef pursuing his gastronomic passions. Now "Le Chef" (opening July 11 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas) delivers food porn with a French twist.

A three-star chef is greeted like royalty in any French restaurant. Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) is an aging king whose dynasty is threatened by management’s desire to cater to the latest trend. A new CEO is pushing him to put "molecular cuisine" on the menu but Lagarde will have none of it. This leads to a battle of wills and Lagarde finds an unlikely ally in Jacky (Michael Youn), a young chef who may be even more unyielding than Lagarde. Both men are extremely difficult to work with and live with but they share a passion for food.

Companion Viewing

"Chef!" (1993 BBC series)

"Mostly Martha" (2001)

"Ratatouille" (2007)

If there’s one thing the French know and love it’s food. So even though "Le Chef" is a formulaic comedy with a feel good ending, there’s enough tasty humor to make the whole thing go down easy. For foodies there are fun scenes of food prep and listening to the "vegetables scream" when cooked wrong. There are jabs at the commercialization of famous chefs and their brand as Lagarde discovers he can’t take his own name with him if he leaves his restaurant because the corporation bought it. And there’s a passion for cooking and creating food out of love that makes you wish you could smell and taste what’s on the screen.

"Le Chef" (originally titled "Comme Un Chef") was actually made in 2012 but seems to have won a U.S. release now in order to cash in on the success of John Favreau's film, "Chef." Both films present main characters who are chef's with a passion for cooking and an integrity to what they think is best. The French film "Le Chef" opens this weekend at Landmark’s Hillcrest Cinemas while Jon Favreau's film "Chef" continues at La Jolla Village Theaters. So you can savor both French and American cuisine on your cinematic menu.

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