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Roy Choi Talks 'Chef' the Movie

What happens when movies and foodies come together? The answer is Chef the film, an upcoming movie from writer-director-star Jon Favreau. The movie premiered at this year's SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. On the red carpet, we chatted with the cast and with real life chef (and now movie consultant) Roy Choi about what it was like working on the film--and what they love to eat!

The movie, about a chef who loses his job and starts a Cuban sandwich food truck, came to Favreau easily.  He tells us, "It all sort of hit me, I love cooking on television and I wanted to learn to cook, and it’s a really good metaphor for any creative endeavor."

The cast raved about those Cubanos, which we got to try from the hands of Favreau and Choi themselves (and which Emjay Anthony, who plays Favreau's son, said was his favorite part of filming). Meanwhile, John Leguizamo, who stars as Favreau's sous chef and best friend, told us the secret is all about "the sauce." 

Both Favreau and Leguizamo learned to cook for their roles, with the Colombian-Puerto Rican star telling us, "I learned a lot – I learned how to cook fish, cook burgers. You gotta make sure the fish is dry, no water! And cook it skin down and use grape seed oil. I learned from the best!"

When it came time to actually filming all of the cooking scenes, Favreau called in L.A. Korean taco king Roy Choi. From his impossible-to-resist Korean BBQ tacos (we got to try one of those too, so good!) to consulting on the film, we sat down with the renowned chef to talk good food and, of course, all about the film.

What was the one take away after this film? 

I hope they respect cooking a little bit and they find a little bit of a connection with the struggle and the joy the main character went through.

How did you get involved with this project? 

Jon [Favreau] called me. I run food trucks in L.A. and everyone’s eaten our food down there so when they did the research, I guess I came up – my apple bobbed up to the top and they called me. First thing we had to do was Jon and I had to connect, so him and I spent like 6 hours together on the first day and we already knew we wanted to be with each other. 

What was the most exciting part in getting involved with the project? What was the most unexpected? 

The most unexpected part would be how much everyone cared about our craft. 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. 

What was your personal favorite recipe you guys made? 

I would have to say the spaghetti that he cooks. It’s just olive oil, garlic, and parsley – simple, and lemon juice. 

What’s your favorite Latin food? 

Tacos – I run a taco truck, it’s gotta be tacos! 

Do you have a favorite kind? 

I love Tacos de Cabeza from L.A.! 

Catch CHEF the film in theatres on May 9th.

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