Jon Favreau cooks up a new comedy set in the kitchen called “Chef.” Favreau wrote, directed, produced and stars in the film. He spoke with FOX411 to talk about his inspiration for the film and his cooking skills.
FOX411: Why did you do everything on this one? Why was this it so close to your heart?
Jon Favreau: I hadn’t had an idea hit me for a whole script really since “Swingers” that I wrote very quickly, in a matter of weeks. I knew that I had to hurry up and finish it… it’s like waking up from a dream sometimes. I have a lot of screenplays that are eight pages long, 50 pages long, and you gotta finish that first draft. Anybody who’s a writer knows it’s a very weird. It’s unlike anything else because it doesn’t feel like you are making it. It feels like you’re capturing something. It’s a weird thing. I can’t always write. So when a whole script comes to me, I learn to honor that because it doesn’t happen… I’m not a real writer… so I felt very excited that this thing was coming out of me and I hadn’t written in so long. It talked about things, about fatherhood, about relationships, about balancing career with family, and then the whole chef culture has been something that's been really intriguing to me since I read Tony Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential” many years ago and since then I’ve been reading other memoirs, and stories and watching cooking shows and “Top Chef”… So that all came together and I wrote it and I figured out how small I had to make this thing to cast whoever I wanted to and to film it wherever I wanted to and not have all the creative influences that the bigger movies have.
FOX411: How would you do on “Hell’s Kitchen?”
Favreau: On “Hell’s Kitchen?” I don’t know if I’d do that well on any of those shows. I’d be curious, but I don’t have the chops that those guys do. I had enough to make it look good in a film, and I could cook a good meal. I could work a line. I could work in a kitchen, but I would be curious to see what Gordon Ramsay would think of my work. I think… he would appreciate that I listen. I work hard. I have pretty good dexterity, good knife skills, but I don’t have the experience that they have.
FOX411: You really did learn it in depth (for “Chef”) so how?
Favreau: Roy Choi was the chef that I worked with. He’s a co-producer on the film. He’s really the guy who is credited with starting the whole food truck movement in L.A. He’s the first guy who was doing Twitter and he came up with the Kogi truck which mixed Korean barbeque flavors with a traditional Los Angeles Mexican taco truck. So it was an idea that exploded and he really understood that world so I reached out to him to help me with this film and he said he’ll help but “We have to do it right. Most movies don’t get the food culture right.” The first thing was my training, and he first sent me off before he ever let me into any of his kitchens or restaurants. He sent me off to a very condensed French culinary training where I learned all the traditional stuff. The mother sauces, and making demi-glace, knife cuts, tournés-- all the things that a student would learn. Then he brought me into his kitchen. Then I started off as a prep cook, then eventually worked the line, then eventually became one of his cooks over the course of a few months. So it was a lot, a lot went into it.
FOX411: What is your signature dish?
Favreau: I've been getting into smoking. Smoking like brisket over the course of like 12 to 15 hours with very little seasoning, just a little salt and pepper, Texas style over slow and low heat, and getting the bark and really bringing the flavors out. That’s the thing I’ve been wrestling with… and it’s good. It’s good. It’s not as good as Aaron Franklin’s in the movie but it’s pretty damn good.