The Chef is a great, feel-good movie about a (duh!!) chef who is divorced from his wife and estranged from his only child—a bright young boy eager to have a relationship with his dad. Carl Casper (the chef), despite his foibles in personal relationships, is an amazingly innovative chef. But, he works for a restaurant owner (played by Dustin Hoffman) who is intent on serving the same good, but unimaginative, menu year after year. The centerpiece of the movie is Carl’s confrontation with courage through a road trip with his son.
Now, you know no more than you would learn from the movie trailer.
The climax of the movie comes fairly early in the movie when his son, helping out with food preparation, elects to take a short cut, produces a less-than-stellar outcome, and shrugs it off as acceptable. No one really cares if the bun is a little bit overcooked. Rather than scold his son, Carl elects to inspire him with these lines (also in the trailer).
“I may not do everything great in my life, but I’m good at this. I manage to touch people’s lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.’
Innovative service is about finding ways to give the best of what you have with your customers. It is the tollbooth operator dancing as he makes change (because he dreams of being a great dancer); it is the flight attendant who covers up a sleeping passenger because she is passionate about caring for others. And, it is the call center operator who turns on more than usual empathy to a needy caller because she enjoys making people happy.
Being who you are meant to be in a fashion that “manages to touch people’s lives” is service at its best. It takes the courage Carl demonstrated by taking his creative talent to customers rather than being shoehorned into a plain-vanilla role that kept his talent on a leash. It is the audacity to deliver the best, even on the mundane and seemingly unimportant. Butterflies do not remain in the safety of the cocoon-like pupa…they emerge, they fly, and they enrich the lives of all they encounter.