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SXSW chat: ‘Chef’ director John Favreau

Matthew Odam
modam@statesman.com

Jon Favreau presented the world premiere of his latest feature, “Chef,” Friday night to a sold-put crowd at the Paramount Theatre.

The filmmaker considers the movie about the single-father chef who quits his job at an upscale restaurant only to rebuild his career and life behind the wheel of a food truck a return to his indie filmmaking roots.

Favreau, a regular visitor to Austin who has been coming to town since a surprise screening of his 2001 film “Made,” included the Texas Capitol in his latest. There are cameos by musician Gary Clark Jr. and barbecue star Aaron Franklin.

So, why Austin, in this story of a chef who journeys across the country with his 10 year-old kid, and his friend (John Leguizamo) to rebuild his life and rekindle his passion?

“I wanted the coolest cities in the country,” Favreau said, sitting at a table in the back of Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant in East Austin. “As a kid, what would be the coolest places your father could turn you on to — and I figured there was Little Havana (in Miami), New Orleans and Austin.

The director’s career has skyrocketed in the past few years, with a roster of films including “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Asked if he would then consider this modest-budget film his food truck, the filmmaker said, “I think so. Because I think when you have a restaurant, you have a lot of investors and you got to serve a lot of people and there’s a lot of overhead. And with a food truck, you take one chef — and if he’s got an idea and he’s willing to bust his ass, he can put that idea out and if people line up and eat it, then they do, and if they don’t, it’s only his ass. So this is very much a personal vision compared to the other films I do.”

Look for the complete interview when the film is released in Austin later this month.