If you’re a foodie who (tries to) stay in the food culture loop, you must have heard that the indie film Chef was a smash hit. Spoilers ahead.
It’s a story about a chef whose creativity is hampered by the narrow-mindedness of the owner of the restaurant he works in. Forced to serve unexciting food from a 10-year-old menu to a famous food critic, the resulting negative reviews target the chef on a very personal note. He goes on a meltdown, quits the restaurant and floats aimlessly until he finally agrees to meet with his ex-wife’s first husband who provides him with an old food truck.
The chef cleans out and refits the truck with the help of his 10-year-old son and the sous chef from the old restaurant. The young son, well-versed in the dynamics of social media, markets the food truck via Twitter and money starts pouring in.
Chef is a feel-good movie. It relays the message that a person can keep his integrity and still be financially successful. The oddest twist in the plot is when the food critic who has since sold his blog for a lot of money offers to become the partner of the chef that he had lambasted so viciously in the past. Together, they open a restaurant on the heels of the success of the food truck, the chef re-marries his ex-wife and everyone lives happily ever after.
Despite the fairy tale approach, Chef makes even the most cynical moviegoer smile because of its unique approach to food and cooking.
While being a chef in a restaurant conjures images of perfectly plated food cooked with exotic ingredients, Chef shows us that cooking is not about lavishness but about passion even in the preparation of something as simple as grilled cheese sandwich.
In one of the best scenes of the film, the chef lovingly prepares a grilled cheese sandwich for his son. Even without a paying customer to impress, the chef pours just as much energy into the work, never scrimping and never taking short-cuts.
The film also tells every wanna-be chef that working in a big restaurant does not always have to be the ultimate goal. While being associated with a well known establishment may mean prestige, it does not always give the kind of fulfilment that one can get when allowed to explore, discover and create new things, and offer diners something exciting enough to want to forego the old.
It’s a life lesson that holds true for anyone, not just for those who cook for a living. And that’s how Chef won the hearts of movie goers. It delivered a very inspiring message. That the message was delivered via images of mouth-watering food is like ultra delicious icing on the cake.
Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Spicy, aromatic, creamy and gooey. The sandwich filling has two kinds of cheese, garlic, basil and chili, and a bit of salt and freshly milled black pepper. The bread slices are brushed with softened butter before the sandwiches are grilled.
Why two cheeses? The cream cheese makes the filling very creamy, and that’s a very nice thing. But you need a firmer cheese to hold the cream cheese together. Otherwise, the cream cheese will turn runny while grilling.
There are three steps in making these spicy grilled cheese sandwiches.
The first is to chop the herb and spices. How finely or coarsely you want the pieces is entirely up to you. If you don’t want to bite into large pieces of leaves and spices, chop everything finely.
The next step is to mix the softened cream cheese with the grated cheese (whatever you’re using) and mixing in the chopped herb and spices.
You spread the mixture on bread slices, cover with more bread slices, spread the outside of the sandwiches with butter and grill them until golden and crisp, and these cheeses have melted.
That’s very little work for such delicious sandwiches.
Bonus trivia: Read “The Oldest and Oldest Edible Cheese in the World”