I've been a fan of Favreau since Swingers, and I also think that he directed one of the best superhero films ever, Iron Man. (He also directed the second one, which isn't as good but is still pretty entertaining.) It was nice to see him do something a little more down to earth and human, and this movie, while deliberately uplifting, hits all the right notes.
I'm not sure why it is, but I'm a sucker for stories where a person has lost his way and then rediscovers it. It's the theme of most of my favorite superhero movies, and it's also one of the many reasons why I love Hamlet so much. I also think that I related to this movie because the main character's job wasn't just work - it was a passion and there's an art to it. While I'm not a chef, I will dare to be so bold as to say that my profession, teaching, has some parallels. And just like with anybody who pours his heart and soul into his life's work, it's sometimes hard to take criticism. (It's a harsh review from a restaurant critic that ignites his fall from grace.)
Another thing that really stuck with me in this movie was that his relationship with his son was a major factor in this story. My son is only three, his was ten, but I can relate to how his son just wants to be with him and help as much as he can. I think that as a son, I can relate to the idea of wanting to please your dad. As a dad, I need to remember that and give my son as many chances to do it as possible.
The cast was really impressive with the likes of Dustin Hoffmann, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey, Jr. all taking small but significant roles. John Leguizamo plays a pretty significant part, and he's a welcome presence just like he usually is. Plus, it was really cool to see Gary Clark, Jr. in it. If you don't know who he is, Google it. If you see the movie, he's the guitarist/singer for the band that plays in Texas.
There's a lot to relate to in this movie, and it left me feeling good. My only caveat is that you shouldn't watch it while you're hungry. The food looks awesome, and it's torture if you haven't eaten yet.