Over the past decade or so, a lot of food TV programming, scripted or otherwise, has focused almost entirely on haute cuisine. We’ve seen a lot of super chefs on edge in movies like chef And the burntBut few have taken on the challenge of presenting the chaotic, gritty reality of life in an ordinary neighborhood restaurant on the verge of financial collapse. Enters The bearA new FX series is streaming on Hulu today.
Starring Jeremy Allen White and created by Christopher Storer Eighth place Eighth degree Eighth level fame, stopr follows Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto as he returns to Chicago after a brief (but successful) transformation into the world of fine dining. Before returning home to run Original Beef of Chicagoland, a daily sandwich shop, Karmi was a bit of a prodigy, spending time in some of the world’s best kitchens—including Noma and the French Laundry—and earning the title Food and wine Best new chef, all before the age of 21. The script notes that Carme won the James Beard Award, and was responsible for “the best restaurant in the world, at least according to Eater.” (Note: Eater is not actually hosting the Best Restaurant in the World Awards anywhere but inside our minds.)
But now, Karmi is stuck in Chicago running an original beef after his brother’s sudden death. He does this alongside a very compelling cast of side characters. Carme tries to bring the restaurant’s kitchen – and his sandwiches – up to his exacting standards, so he brings in Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), an aspiring and entrepreneurial chef who is tired of not being taken seriously in the restaurant world. It’s a perfect tool for line cook Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), who is highly skeptical of how Carmy changed both recipes and the way things have always been done at Original Beef. Then there’s real-life Toronto chef Matty Matheson, who makes a frequent appearance, bringing both chefs and the occasional comedic relief to some of the show’s most tense scenes.
Through eight intermittent loops, The bear It offers what could be the most authentic television depiction of life inside a failing restaurant. His first moments feel like a reality show, maybe an episode of Nightmares RestaurantMeanwhile, Carmi tries to change the look of the kitchen. The restaurant, like many others, is mired in debt, leaving Karmi trading classic men’s fashion for the beef he needs to make his sandwiches and with a pile of bills he has no idea how to pay. The atmosphere of this restaurant and its chef feel deeply real, especially to anyone who has ever worked in the kitchen of a restaurant mired in chaos.
But Karmi is determined to make it work. Apparently overnight, the Original Beef employees learn how to say “behind!” and “corner!” When they walk into the kitchen carrying hot food or sharp knives, and “Yes Chef!” It has become a common refrain in this sloppy facade as I imagine in the French Laundry. As in restaurants and in real life, though, every step forward for Original Beef comes at least one step back as Carmy attempts to save his brother’s restaurant and fight the trauma he suffers after working for a goofy chef, played by Joel in memories Past McHale, in his previous life.
Besides its bold originality, The bear It is deeply ingrained in the culture of late millennium “foodies”. Karmi is written with all the hallmarks of important culinary credentials that lend the credibility he needs – this Food and wine Nod, James Beard Award – to make the audience understand that he is a serious chef. The actual scenes involving food, roasting the top to make Italian beef, and perfectly filling vegetables turned into fresh giardiniera, are beautifully photographed, and cause hunger without wandering too far into the pornography territory. Karmic sandwiches are sure to look killer on the ‘gram, and it seems likely that this is the kind of spot that will sprout on TikTok to serve up top-notch sandwiches in a modest space. Hell, even our hugely popular dish Our Place Always Pan makes a cameo.
The series also crystallizes much of what we’ve learned about the impact this kind of high-stress environment has on the people that make the restaurant industry possible, specifically mental health struggles and substance use disorders. These diseases have been reported extensively in publications like the one you’re reading now for nearly the past decade, and fit perfectly into the show’s themes. Is there anything more culminating in a millennial foodie than a former Noma chef with an anxiety disorder? I do not think so.
And while it’s certainly amusing for a food writer like myself, I wonder who exactly this show is for: What is its audience? Definitely not chefs looking to unwind at 2am after a long night of running dinner service – no one wants to watch a show about their work when they’re off work. Many of The bear It feels like it’s inside a baseball game, and not many viewers will necessarily understand why Karmi is so frustrated that no one even bothered to say “behind!” When they walk around the kitchen with a plate of hot food. For those viewers who know the food and restaurant culture firsthand, it seems a bit dated. Food attendant and chef are very worried about 2010, but acting and writing in it The bear Give it enough heart to make it worth watching.
At the end of the series, you might be wondering why Karmi is so interested in turning this weird old restaurant into something cool. Why not cut his losses and start over? But that is, by and large, the fundamental question of why anyone would choose to run a restaurant in real life, knowing that making a huge profit is almost impossible and that there is no end to the work that needs to be done. Likes The bearThe restaurant industry is built on chaos and uncertainty and men wrestle with their egos, and that’s exactly what makes this chain look so subtle and appealing.
All 8 episodes of The Bear are now streaming hollow.