"Iron Man" director serves up foodie adventure in new film, "Chef"

The new road trip movie, starring Jon Favreau and a food truck, opens in select theaters nationwide. Open Road Films

There are very few things Jon Favreau hasn't done on a Hollywood set.

He's already succeeded as an actor, and is well known for the movies he's directed. But for his latest role, he had to know how to cook like a world class chef. So he turned to restaurateur Roy Choi for help.

"I didn't know Roy would put me through the paces quite so much, but I'm glad he did," Favreau said. "He sent me off to culinary school first to learn the basics. And then, eventually, I ended up workin' here -- as a prep cook. So it was a very immersive experience."

Choi, who made a name for himself with a famous Korean taco truck in Los Angeles, was just the chef Favreau was looking for.

Favreau's new film, "Chef," tells the story of Carl Casper, a celebrity chef who becomes bored cooking the same menu.

So Casper reinvents himself with a food truck.

"There's always a balancing act between conserving what was working, and being progressive and trying something new," Favreau said.

Favreau realized meals are often graded the same way as movies.

"For movies, the bigger the movie, the safer you gotta go. And if you do anything that's too off the beaten path, people might reject it," he said.

And much like the character he plays in the film, the superstar best known for mega-blockbuster hits like "Elf" and "Iron Man I and II" returned to his indie roots with "Chef."

"Look, if I could come up with another movie like 'Chef' and write a script, I would do it. I can't just sit down and decide to write something. This script hit me. The last time a script hit me like this, it was 'Swingers,'" he said.

"Swingers" is his 1996 comedy about wannabe actors looking for work and love in Hollywood. It was a cult classic that launched his own career.

Unlike "Swingers," Favreau both wrote and directed "Chef." The movie was shot in just one month in four cities around the country. While it didn't have a budget for promotion, it does come with a star-studded cast.

"I'm lucky that I have friends who are gracious enough to pop in and do some acting for me for not a lot of dough," he said.

Those friends include Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman and John Leguizamo.

But there's something else that steals almost every scene: "I think the food was the star of the film," Favreau said. " The menu that Roy came up with was beautiful visually, tasted great, and smelled great. And, you know, food is extremely cinematic."

And while you might think he lost his appetite for cooking, Favreau remains hungry.

"I love it. I miss it. I got bit by the bug. And I like the culture. I like the people. And I hope to stay in contact with a lot of them and figure out a way to do that," he said.

To watch a trailer for "Chef" click on the video player below.

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