I love food-centric movies and I am obsessed with food trucks.
Can you imagine my delight when Camilla from Culinary Adventures announced this month’s Food ‘n Flix feature? I was ecstatic. Chef, Camilla’s pick, has been in my Netflix list for some time. (You can see Camilla’s announcement post here.)
Chef (written, directed, and starring Jon Favreau) is the story of a passionate, fiery, talented chef in Los Angeles, working for a restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) who is happy with the status quo. Carl (Favreau) is stifled by the environment but does the owner’s bidding, even as a high-profile food critic is in the house. The results are disastrous for Carl. His public tirade against the critic (played by Oliver Platt) is documented on social media and soon goes viral. (Carl is a social media neophyte which leads to some of the comedy and drama in the film.) Carl is fired and is blacklisted in the LA area.
His ex-wife, Inez, (sympathetically played by Sofia Vergara) suggests that Carl accompany her and their young son back to Miami where Carl first found fame in the restaurant world. There, Inez enlists the help of another ex-husband (Robert Downey, Jr.) to equip Carl with a food truck.
A road trip ensues with Carl, his son Percy, and his old sous-chef, Martin (John Leguizamo). Through Percy’s precocious use of social media, the El Jefe food truck only gains notoriety as the crew makes their way back to LA from Miami via New Orleans and Austin.
I was stuck on three food scenes from the film:
- The sexy scene where Carl cooks a simple Pasta Aglio E Olio for Molly (a gothic looking Scarlett Johansson).
- The grilled cheese scene where Carl lovingly and with such care makes grilled cheese for his son.
- The Cuban sandwiches for which El Jefe is famous.
El Jefe’s menu changed depending on what city they were in and what could be locally sourced. In Austin, for instance, Carl secures brisket from Franklin Barbecue to incorporate into his sandwiches, giving them a Texas kick.
So, I decided to give the Cuban Sandwich our own local spin.
The Okie-Local Cuban Sandwich
Makes one sandwich
2 slices Blue & Gold thick sliced bacon
1 (7-inch) loaf of homemade French bread (Cut a loaf in half.)
1 T. Griffin’s yellow mustard
Homemade pickles, sliced thin
4-5 thin slices of Lovera’s hand-formed aged Caciocavera
1 T. Pickled-mustard seed mayonaisse (see below)
2 slices of leftover roasted pork loin (smoked on the patio)
1-2 T. butter
Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside.
Split the bread slice, cutting it down the middle. Spread mustard on one side of the bread and layer on pickles on top of mustard. Place sliced cheese on top of the pickles.
Slather the mustard-seed mayonnaise on the other half of the bread. Place two slices of bacon on top of that. Place slices of roast pork on top of the bacon.
Carefully, put the halves together.
If you have a Panini press, use it. As for me, I use two heavy cast iron skillets, one to heat and one to press.
Melt 1 T. of butter in the skillet. (If using a Panini press, just spread butter on top of the bread.) Place sandwich in skillet and using another heavy skillet or pan, press down. (Use weights if necessary like a heavy can of tomatoes.) The aim is to smash the sandwich. Check for donenss and when the bottom is golden brown, flip the sandwich and grill the other side.
When the sandwich is crispy and cheese is melted, remove and slice diagonally from corner to corner.
To make the mayonnaise, take your favorite brand of mayo and add pickled mustard seeds and a dash of sriracha. This adds a sweet and spicy kick to the sandwich.
(This condiment is excellent on burgers, dogs, grilled corn on the cob…the possibilities are endless.)
We ate these on the patio with some mojitos (using our abundant supply of mint).
Just a bit about the local products I used.
Blue & Gold is a staple in Oklahoma. Their breakfast sausage and thick sliced bacon is of high quality. It can be bought at a few grocery stores but I always buy it from our FFA students who sell it as a fund raiser. I have lots of their products in the freezer.
Griffin’s is a family owned company that specializes in mustards, preserves, and syrups. (Their Butter-Pecan syrup is to die for.)
But, back to the film.
Amy Sedaris makes a brief appearance as Inez’ publicist (I’m not really sure exactly what Inez’s profession is??) in a true-to-form hilarious turn.
Roy Choi (of Kogi) and Aaron Franklin (of Franklin Barbecue) play themselves in the film.
Thanks, Camilla, for a great food film. (This reminded me a great deal of Big Night which I read actually influenced Favreau in writing the screenplay. And, Favreau’s character reminded me so much of Louis C.K.!)
Did you know a free downloadable cookbook from Chef can be found here?
There is always a good movie playing at Food ‘n Flix. Next month, Heather at girlichef is hosting The Goonies. (I am a child of the 80s. I have never seen this film. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks, Heather!) Rent a copy of stream it and join the fun for May.