John Leguizamo & the Cast of 'Chef' Talk Independent Films, Good Food & More

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As the opening film at this year's SXSW festival, Chef has a lot to live up to. Luckily the movie, written and directed by Jon Favreau, doesn't disappoint. We talked to the cast–including star Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony and chef consultant Roy Choi–about what it was like working on the foodie film. 

After his success with Swingers and the many movies that came after, Favreau raved about how quickly the script came together for him. Writing about a chef who loses his restaurant job and starts a food truck in order to reclaim his creative process "all sort of hit me," he told us. "I love cooking on television and I wanted to learn to cook, and it’s a really good metaphor for any creative endeavor."

Meanwhile, Emjay Anthony, the 10-year-old Mexican, Italian & German cutie who plays Favreau's son Percy in the film, raves about working with Sofia Vergara as his mom. "So amazing!" he told us, and Favreau agreed: "She’s great, she’s got comedy chops and I loved her work in Modern Family. She played a different tone with this film. I really enjoyed working with her." Anthony also appreciated his director and on-screen dad, telling us that Favreau is "a really good actor and I have no idea how he takes on all of that stress!"

Chef Roy Choi, who invented the Korean BBQ taco in L.A., saw the camaraderie of the cast and how much they cared about the craft. He told us: "I know the movie is called Chef but – maybe in a worse environment, the cooking side could have been just the explosives or the eye candy of the movie and then there would’ve been some other sub-plot. But everyone involved; how much they cared about our craft and wanted to learn about who we are as cooks and chefs and wanted to honor that – that was amazing."

John Leguizamo, who plays Favreau's sous chef and best friend, talked to us about working with the director, what he learned about cooking and how he feels about opening his own restaurant someday.

Tell us about how you got involved in this move, your character, the whole process. 

"Jon asked me to be apart of this move and asked 'Would I be willing to improvise and go off book?' I said 'Yeah, for you, anything man. You invented the independent film!' Swingers was the greatest independent film and the beginning of the whole thing and now he’s going back to it. I go 'Yeah, I’ll be the Latin Vince Vaughn!' We went on this incredible journey, I had to go to cooking school in restaurants for three weeks, work with chefs – do the whole business."

Continue reading on Page 2 for the secret to the Cuban sandwich & more >>

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About this author1

Irina Gonzalez,

An NYC-based journalist, web editor, and food writer, she started her career with an internship at Latina magazine while receiving her bachelor’s at New York University. Her work has appeared in Time Out New York, MamasLatinas.com, FamilyCircle.com, TheFrisky.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, and more. When she’s not checking out the latest taco restaurant in New York City, scouring for the best tapas in Barcelona, or dreaming of visiting Alex Atala’s restaurant in Brazil, she’s blogging about her favorite recipes, healthy eating tips and maintaining her 100 pound weight loss on HealthyLatinFood.com. You can always find her on Twitter (@msirinagonzalez) & Instagram (@msirinagonzalez) talking about her latest delicious meal.

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