Funnyman and actor John Leguizamo will always have a painful memory of his time on the set of new film “Chef” as he chopped off the end of his finger in a kitchen scene.
The “Moulin Rouge!” star insisted on taking care of his own cooking, chopping and preparing in the film, and even signed up for work in New York’s The Lion restaurant to perfect his culinary skills.
He came away from the filming experience with a new-found respect for kitchen staff, a few tips and a great party tale.
“I was lucky, I only chopped off a little piece of my finger chopping. I didn’t chop off a whole finger. Cooking is a dangerous game; there’s hot oil, burning stoves, sharp Japanese and German knives everywhere. You can really hurt somebody or yourself.
“I also burned myself a ton but tried not to curse on film. We were cooking for real. Obviously they gave me things that I could handle. I really macerated a pig and decapitated it and did a lobotomy on it! I cut through the neck with a saw and it was tough. It was like murdering an animal.”
He reveals that all the cast and crew gained weight during filming because everything that was cooked on camera was then eaten at big set parties: “Nothing was thrown away. Everything was cooked and ate (sic) by the crew, us, the extras. On camera I was taking tiny little bites but off camera I gained 20 pounds while making this movie from eating Cubanos, beignets, pralines… I was 184 pounds, which was a lot for me.
“(Director) Jon Favreau is a food pusher. He’s like a Jewish mom: ‘Come on, you gotta try this. Eat a little bit more. Come on!’ I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll have another Cuban sandwich, which is my fifth one today!’ That’s a lot of carbs (carbohydrates).”