It’s about passion and love – love of life, career, family relationships, best friends. And, beautifully interwoven throughout, it’s about the power of social networking and branding.
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a chef, passionate about his art. He loves to cook and as the movie begins, the prominent L.A. restaurant where he works is expecting a famous food critic (Oliver Platt) that evening.
Excitement abounds. Chef Carl has a creative, new menu planned, but his plans are squashed by the restaurant’s owner (Dustin Hoffman). Exclaiming, “Be an artist on your time, it’s my restaurant,” he insists that Carl stick with the “tried and true” menu.
Disappointed, Carl caves in to the owner’s demand. The result? The food critic slams him with a hellish review and the critique hits the Twitter-verse.
Having no knowledge of Twitter, Carl’s 11-year old son – who is desperate to just hang out with his dad – gives him a lesson and sets him up with a Twitter account. Unfamiliar with the protocol, Carl thinks he’s sending a private message, but tweets out a nasty reply to the critic. And, voila! Overnight he lands 1600 followers. . .
Controversy can certainly capture an audience and it did in Carl’s case.
And so the power of social networking begins. Carl eventually invites the critic to a do-over and once again the restaurant owner puts a kibosh on Carl’s creativity. He walks out on his job and the food critic tweets that Chef Carl “chickened out.”
When Carl sees the tweet, irate and hurt, he returns to the restaurant and verbally assaults the critic in the midst of a full restaurant.
What he does is actually share his true nature, his authentic self. He’s flaming mad, but also conveys how he’s hurt by the critic and how the critic hurt the restaurant’s business.
You may have guessed what happens next. You got it – while Carl is throwing a tirade, customers have their smartphones in hand. The scene goes viral and Carl lands 20K followers (without even trying).
Embarrassed, Carl just wants the dust to settle while he seeks a job. However, he finds himself on a trip to Miami with his ex-wife and son. Unbeknownst to him she has set up a meeting for Carl to meet with her first ex-husband who offers Carl a beat up old food truck.
And the adventure begins . . .
Here’s where the relationships part develops more deeply. Carl gets time with his son rebuilding the truck together, his best friend (John Leguizamo) flies from LA to pitch in and help, and together they launch “El Jefe”- the Cuban food truck.
Carl’s passion for cooking is reignited, his love for his son is heightened, his friendship with his buddy is cemented and the three take to the road driving from Miami to Los Angeles.
Carl’s son starts tweeting their journey and each time they land in a new city, prospects are anxiously lined up to order. This 11-year “marketing director” understands the power of social networking. That, combined with Carl’s delicious food and commitment to customer service, launches Carl on the road to success.
Here are a few of the messages I valued in this movie:
- Carl teaches his son the importance of passion for his job as well as good customer service (i.e. don’t serve a burned sandwich). “I get to touch people’s lives with what I do and I love it. And I want to share this with you,“
- Carl learns about the power of relationships not only with his son, but with his best friend who quits his job at the L.A. restaurant and flies to Carl’s side to help saying, “I was so jazzed [that Carl was starting the business] . . . I said ‘ that’s what I want to do.”
- Despite being divorced, Carl’s ex-wife knows Carl only too well and supports him in finding his bliss saying, “You’ll never be happy cooking for someone else.”
- And of course, with his 11-year old son acting as marketing director, they build their brand, simply by being social online and off. The power of social networking (Twitter in particular) successfully skyrocket’s the business to success.
Oh, did I say there’s also great salsa music? An uplifting movie, you’ll leave the theatre with a big smile on your face.
If you have seen it, do you agree? Please share your comments below because I’d love to hear from you. Muchas gracias!