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'Le Chef' tries hard at making comedy out of gourmet meals

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Le Chef

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The French film "Le Chef "directed by Daniel Cohen opens in San Francisco on July 4. The artifice of gourmet cooking set in Paris is the subject, and all of the little finesses and food combinations created revolve around this theme. "Le Chef" uses inane comedy to drive home its points that making food is a funny business. Comic predicaments revolving around food have universal appeal since our first love is food.

Jean Reno plays the prime chef Alexandre Lagarde and the film looks at how being at the top doesn't keep you there. A restaurant CEO wants to bring in the younger chef Jacky Bonnot (Michaël Youn) who specializes in molecular gastronomy. Bonnot's sophisticated skills look perfectly normal today where more and more graduates hold superfluous degrees in traditional disciplines. Alexandre will lose his some of his assets if he is demoted, including his plush apartment and car and will have to downsize.

Jean Reno being the focus of the film doesn't leave much room for a parallel issue. While confronting ageism in the food industry is of importance all the sous chefs in the film are also men. Films about French gourmet food will feed the appetite of those who appreciate big plates with tiny portions of aesthetically arranged meals. Those artfully created dishes that are the subject of television programs are so successful that director Cohen tried the formula in the movies. Set in France, the global capital of the food culture, "Le Chef" works hard at bringing home the stereotype and myth of Paris having the best food and the best chefs in the world. The film will satisfy the love affair the world has for this exotic food culture. Jean Reno is a reliable actor to help make this happen.

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