The story of “Chef” is rather complicated, but let’s have a go at it. And before we get there, do not confuse this with the very-similarly sounding “Chef” project that Jon Favreau is now attached to. Written by “Eastern Promises” screenwriter Steven Wright, “Chef,” is a cooking comedy/drama that’s been in development for some years. It interested David Fincher and Keanu Reeves for a while a few years back, but the project never gained enough traction (Fincher’s short attention span went elsewhere). Owned by the house of Weinstein, Bradley Cooper became involved in the lead after Harvey Weinstein figured their “Silver Linings Playbook” went swimmingly well (Oscar noms for Cooper, over $100 million domestically, etc.). Cooper then tried to enlist his “Place Beyond The Pines” director Derek Cianfrance, and while he toyed with the idea of making it his next film, the “Blue Valentine” filmmaker eventually decided it was not for him (you can read about that in our interview with him here).
But now, it looks as if John Wells has come on board to be the head chef. Deadline reports that the director of “The Company Men” is getting ready to step into the shoes of the cooking project. A longtime veteran of TV (“Shameless,” “E.R,”), Wells is an obvious choice, if only because Harvey also seems to love the writer/director. He helmed the aforementioned Ben Affleck-led 2008 economy-fallout drama and later this year we’ll see TWC’s “August: Osage County” which he also directed. It has a powerhouse cast (Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and more) and it’s already dated for Oscar season in November, so Wells on “Chef” bodes well for the always-unpredictable Weinstein happiness with ‘Osage County.’
Early loglines are pretty uncreative -- a chef assembles a crew together in an attempt to create the best restaurant ever – but Deadline has more details and says, Cooper will “play Paris chef Adam Jones, who blows his status as an up and coming chef when controlled substances lead to out of control behavior. Jones straightens out and returns to Paris sober, and becomes devoted to building a restaurant that can attain three Michelin stars, the mark of cuisine supremacy.”
Cooking films don’t have a great track record. Outside of “Big Night,” “Babette’s Feast,” maybe “Ratatouille” and “Chocolat” if you count them, films like "No Reservations" (the dismal film with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart) are much more the norm. Still, Wells, Cooper and potential co-star Omar Sy make a pretty good trio, so we tentatively have cautiously optimistic hopes.