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Film festival concludes with Jon Favreau's 'Chef'

The event co-founder reports a record number of sell-outs and great enthusiasm during the 15th annual event.

May 02, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Actors Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony attend the West Coast premiere of "Chef," the closing night film for the 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival.
Actors Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony attend the West Coast… (Henry Thompson )

Jon Favreau was right — it's an exceptionally bad idea to watch "Chef" on an empty stomach.

Slow-cooked cured meats, golden-brown grilled cheese sandwiches, sugar-sprinkled beignets and undeniably delicious-looking Cuban sandwiches drew murmurs of appreciation from all who watched his latest project Thursday.

But the "Wolf of Wall Street," "Elf" and "Swingers" actor doesn't consider himself a foodie. Although he enjoys eating, he won't necessarily hunt down restaurants in different cities or work his free time to be able to taste different types of preparations. To him, the appeal lies in the knife- and skillet-wielding men and women in the kitchen.

"I wanted to do something about the culinary world," Favreau remarked. "I love watching movies about cooking, 'Top Chef,' reading Anthony Bourdain's books — it's all just fascinating to me. And also, in movies, cooking and food, if it's shot well, it's so beautiful, so I knew I wanted to do something about a chef. They're kind of like modern-day rock stars, and I love all their personalities and what they struggle with creatively and their presence on social media. They seem like figures of the times."

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Known for producing "The Avengers," "Cowboys and Aliens" and the "Iron Man" triquel, Favreau has had a taste of action, fantasy and superheroes. He did things differently in "Chef," relishing the opportunity to spotlight real issues like unemployment, fatherhood and the elusive balance between career and parenting.

The 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival, which matched last year's attendance of more than 54,000 patrons, concluded with the West Coast premiere of "Chef" at the Regency Lido Theatre.

"This was the best way to celebrate our 15th anniversary," said Gregg Schwenk, the festival's co-founder and chief executive officer. "We had a record number of sell-outs, very enthusiastic crowds and filmmakers flying from all over the world to Newport Beach — all of whom had a great time and great screenings. So we're really happy and very excited and looking forward to our 16th year. "

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Delving into kitchen culture

The 115-minute closing-night movie was directed and written by Favreau, who also played its lead, chef Carl Casper. His flair for edgy concoctions costs him a job as a restaurant's chef de cuisine since he is unable to stick to the prescribed menu.

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