2014’s Chef is Jon Favreau’s passion project. He wrote, produced, and directed the film in addition to starring in the lead role. It’s a movie about (as you can guess) the career of a chef that takes a drastic turn. The film has some absolutely delicious food visuals (so I recommend eating before watching) but it also holds some great lessons applicable to any career path. 

Delectable Dishes Cause Disagreements

This feel good food story follows Favreau’s Carl Casper who has been working at the same restaurant for a number of years. Recently, he decided to try experiment with some new entrees. When a famous food critic reviews the restaurant, however, Casper’s boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) causes a problem. He insists that Casper serve the old classic meals instead of his new innovations. The ensuing panic results in the critic leaving a highly negative review.

Casper blasts the critic on Twitter, which gains him followers but makes him look bad. He failed to realize the tweet was public instead of private. This is an important first lesson learned: nothing is private online. Despite what you want to think, it would be naive to assume something posted privately will stay that way. This is why it’s important to be smart on social media. This is especially true if you’re in the process of job searching.

Chef on the Go

After this incident, Casper quits and loses all credibility as a chef. His ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) tells him about an opportunity to run a food truck. He reluctantly says yes, and find his passion in selling Cuban sandwiches. His son, Percy, and an old friend from the restaurant, Martin, both help Casper with his new enterprise. Casper finds happiness in doing what he loves and making people happy.

Although it was an uphill battle, he found a way to keep doing what he loved. The lesson learned for this is very clear: don’t stay employed at a company where you are offered no growth. Carl’s old boss wouldn’t let him try new things and diversify his skill set. This means not only was he cooking the same meals every day, he also wasn’t afforded the opportunity to keep his talent fresh. This is a danger in any job no matter the field. Make sure you are given some creative freedom to try and innovate or grow. If this isn’t afforded it may be the time to start planning a graceful exit.

Building a Positive Environment

The reason Casper was so successful in the end is because he has a strong skills set. However he also allows himself to continue to grow and improve. If you stay in the same job doing the same thing you risk becoming outdated and unmarketable when it’s time to find a new position. Casper’s new company is founded on passion and believing in what he does. This is what inspires his old restaurant coworker to come and work for him. People will follow a leader who is genuine and dedicated to providing an excellent product. Chef is certainly a guilty pleasure movie, from the deliciously indulgent food shots to the feel good story it certainly checks all the marks. However, it is still a great perspective on how to make your career satisfying.