- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - On “Chef,” Jon Favreau got to cook with his own ingredients and set his own menu.

The parallels for Favreau and the film are unmistakable. In the movie, which he wrote and directed, he plays a creativity-stifled restaurant chef who’s fired for going off-menu, but is reborn when he opens his own food truck.

After years directing big summer blockbusters (“Iron Man,” ”Iron Man 2,” ”Cowboys & Aliens”), “Chef” is a return to Favreau’s indie roots. (He wrote and starred in 1996’s “Swingers.”)

“Chef” is Favreau’s own personal food truck.

“After doing a lot of big movies with a lot of concerns revolving around the studios and the politics of marketing and release schedules, it was nice to do something very small where I didn’t have to answer to anybody but myself,” says Favreau.

The 47-year-old filmmaker says it was a relief not having to justify a story point, a joke or a piece of casting to studio executives. He says “Chef,” which opens May 9, is “like singing right from your heart.”

“When you’re hung up on marketing, tracking, budgets and box office, it can steal the satisfaction from doing for a living what you’ve always dreamed of doing,” says Favreau.

Favreau, though, has returned to tentpole making. He’s currently on pre-production for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Jungle Book.”

But making “Chef” has clearly altered Favreau, rejuvenating him as a filmmaker and inspiring him as an aspiring cook. In the film, his truck makes stops at foodie destinations like Franklin’s Barbeque in Austin, Texas.

“It’s a quest,” he says. “When I get off the phone with you and go home, I will once again be trying to recreate Franklin’s smoked brisket.”

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle