As the world continues to pick up the pieces from the effects of the pandemic, one thing is certain: between layoffs and low wages, the food industry has suffered heavily over the past year. It’s quite clear that change needs to be made in order to maintain a sustainable and profitable food industry post-Covid-19.

2014’s Chef — a movie starring Jon Favreau — chronicles star chef Carl Casper as he struggles to find his passion for food in his job at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant after a particularly negative review. After quitting and gaining confidence, motivation and support from his family, regains his passion for the culinary arts and what it means to him.

Even though Chef was released more than seven years ago at this point, there are a few key lessons that can help shape the future of the food business. Overall, it’s a fun and entertaining movie that emphasizes the importance of trying something new when things don't seem to be going right.

1. Take full advantage of social media

Courtesy of Open Road Films. 

This first point is pretty self-explanatory. Since Chef’s release in 2014, social media usage and importance increased exponentially. Approximately 4.5 billion people use social media in 2021 compared to 2.3 billion in 2014, according to In the past few years, social media platforms — such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — have become an important medium for news, entertainment, and business. The pandemic only exacerbated social media’s impact.

Chef” chronicles how social media and the court of public opinion can either propel or destroy a business’ success. The protagonist Carl Casper, a professional chef who struggles to maintain his passion for culinary arts at his initial restaurant, can represent food businesses and restaurants that do not use social media and rely solely on the power of word-of-mouth. For example, when Casper is initially introduced to Twitter by his son and almost immediately starts a flame war with a food critic, creating hype for an upcoming opening night at the restaurant. These businesses have little to no presence of advertising on social media platforms and hence are missing out on a wide range of potential customers who would be willing to indulge in their food.

Social media can provide a strong platform to advertise a business in this technological age. Many businesses that have a strong presence on social media have proven successful. Food brands such as Starbucks and Chobani should be a model example of how to utilize social media. Starbucks has earned quite a large following on Instagram with over 17 million followers and are quite active with over 2000 posts. They are able to express various information such as their plans to be more sustainable and eco-friendly and fun tidbits such as zodiacs and summer tips.

However, Subway is a more recent example of how negative press and social media relations can significantly harm a business. Thanks to an ongoing lawsuit over the contents of its “Tuna Sub,” Subway has become the punchline to a joke on Twitter and other platforms. Virality isn’t always good. When Casper had a meltdown and subsequently went viral, his entire career became at stake. Despite these downsides, social media can definitely elevate a business’ presence when used widely and with care.

2. Never be afraid to make changes

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Anna Arteaga

In the movie, Inez (Sofia Vergara), convinces Casper, her ex-husband, into adopting the food truck as his new business model. In the beginning of the film, Casper seemed to be shackled creatively by the boss of the restaurant who wanted him to stick to the menu, when Casper ached for experimentation ahead of an important critic review. This caused Casper to somewhat lose his way and his love for creating artistic cuisine masterpieces. It was only when he opened his own venture where he could create his own rules and menus, did he really begin to thrive once more and enjoy his love for food again.

The pandemic affected restaurants and food businesses severely and as the U.S reopens, restaurants and fast-food chains are finding it difficult to find staff to recover and efficiently restart business. This is due to a number of factors from minimum wage increase demands to some workers starting their own ventures. Similar to Casper’s plight, the pandemic has shaken up the status quo, changing the way restaurants and food businesses operate. This period has seen a rise in the number of “food entrepreneurs” and social media sites have seen a rise of food influencers who are taking advantage of opportunities and employment for themselves, according to Food and Wine.

3. Find a good support system

Courtesy of Open Road Films.

F9 memes aside, family can be the best source of motivation and inspiration available. Chef certainly stresses on this point through the emergence of Casper’s food truck enterprise inspired by Inez. She sees the best in Carl. She constantly encourages him to open the food truck until he eventually takes her advice. With the support and social media awareness of his son, Percy, and friend, Martin, he is able to find his love for food once again and along with the tools of social media. The business is very successful and it is a positive ending for Casper and his team at El Jefe Cubanos.

Ultimately, it was the people who Casper may have potentially neglected the most at his previous job who aided him in finding himself and his passion in the food industry once more. Having a good support of family, friends or even mentors that can aid you in your journey to discovering your place in the culinary industry, whether it is as a solo venture or as an employee, can be vital.

In conclusion, the movie Chef is an interesting and iconic one, which sets an example for food entrepreneurship and gives an example of improvements for food businesses that can gain and adapt to improve sustainable business and opportunities for the future. So for all you food entrepreneurs out there, considering whether or not to start your venture, in the words of Inez to Carl Casper: “You'll never be happy cooking for someone else.”