From left, John Leguizamo as Martin, Emjay Anthony as Percy Casper, and Jon Favreau as Carl Casper in the movie "Chef," about an executive chef
From left, John Leguizamo as Martin, Emjay Anthony as Percy Casper, and Jon Favreau as Carl Casper in the movie "Chef," about an executive chef who, after being fired, finds redemption on wheels with a food-truck operation. Provided by Open Road Films

The love scenes in "Chef" don't happen in a bed. They aren't even between two people. The hottest action in this movie takes place in a kitchen, between a chef and his ingredients.

Sure, watching Scarlett Johansson as Molly the restaurant manager as she eats chef Carl Casper's pasta is certainly sexy, but the steamiest scenes feature pots and pans on his restaurant stove.

The comedy "Chef" opens May 23, in Denver-area theaters. Director/star Jon Favreau gets the culinary details right, from the hypnotic closeups of his mise-en-place to the burn marks on chef Carl's tattooed arms.

Much of this authenticity comes from Los Angeles chef/food-truck mogul Roy Choi, whose involvement in the movie started with a ride-along request from Favreau.

"Jon jumped in my car and we hung out — sometimes dudes are like that, famous or not," said Choi in a phone interview. The two clicked, and Favreau actually worked undercover at Choi's food truck, Kogi BBQ.

Choi ended up co-producing the movie, but he describes his role in culinary terms: "I was, in a way, being Jon's sous chef — anything and everything he needed. It was like I was in one of my own kitchens."

And that's what Favreau was going for — the feel of a real restaurant kitchen, and later in the film as chef Carl's career implodes, a food truck.

The plot follows Carl from his post as executive chef of a tired French restaurant in Los Angeles through a bad review and a disastrous social media debut. As he recovers his creativity and his self-worth, Carl outfits a food truck in Miami and drives back to L.A., accompanied by his 11-year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and sous chef Martin, played by John Leguizamo.

From left, John Leguizamo, Jon Favreau, Bobby Cannavale and chef Roy Choi, on the restaurant set of "Chef." See behind-the scenes footage at
From left, John Leguizamo, Jon Favreau, Bobby Cannavale and chef Roy Choi, on the restaurant set of "Chef." See behind-the scenes footage at denverpost.com/food. (Provided by Open Road Films)

"The way John wears his hat, the towels, the deli containers, the way we tie our aprons, those subtle nuances make it feel real," said Choi. "That was our number one intention, to make sure that cooks and chefs and dishwashers and waiters and front-of-the-house people love this film."

Food editors, too. This one found it inspiring.

Kristen Browning-Blas: 303-954-1440, kbrowning@denverpost.com or twitter.com/krisbb


Where to find cubanos

Civic Center Eats, the food-truck gathering in downtown Denver, is back on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with more than 25 trucks each day. In celebration of "Chef" opening, Still Smokin Food Truck will serve the Mojo Cubano Sandwich on Thursday, May 22. Denver-area restaurants that serve Cubanos, with prices:

Buchi Cafe Cubano, $7.95-$8.95, 2651 W. 38th Ave., 303-458-1328, buchicafecubano.com.

Buenos Aires Pizzeria, $9.90, 1319 22nd St., 303-296-6710, www.bapizza.com.

City Bakery Cafe, $8.99, 726 Lincoln St., 303-861-0809, citybakerydenver.com.

Comida, 3350 Brighton Blvd., 303-296-2747; 721 Confidence Drive, Longmont , 720-204-6455, eatcomida.com.

The Corner Office, $12, 1401 Curtis St., 303-825-6500, thecornerofficedenver.com.

Cuba Bakery & Cafe, $6.95, 15028 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora, 303-752-2822, facebook.com/ pages/Cuba-Bakery-Cafe/160526807486219.

Cuba Cuba Cafe & Bar, $13, 1173 Delaware St., 303-605-2822, Sandwicheria Glendale, $7, 654 S. Colorado Blvd., 303-758-1167; Sandwicheria Boulder, $7, 2525 Arapahoe Blvd., 303-442-1143 , cubacubadenver.com.

Masterpiece Deli, $10.50, 1575 Central St., 303-561-3354, 1710 Sherman St., 303-832-6732, masterpiecedeli.com.

Olive & Finch, $9.50, 1552 E. 17th Ave., 303-832-8663, oliveandfincheatery.com.

Sputnik, $9, 3 S. Broadway, 720-570-4503, sputnikdenver.com.

Steuben's, $10, 523 E. 17th Ave., 303-830-1001, steubens.com.