[rotated_ad] Review: ‘The Bear’ on Hulu is a realistic look at restaurant life -

Review: ‘The Bear’ on Hulu is a realistic look at restaurant life

Over the past decade, much of the foodie television, scripted or unscripted, has focused almost entirely on haute cuisine. We’ve seen plenty of fancy chefs on the brink in movies like Chief and burnt, but few have risen to the challenge of showcasing the gritty, chaotic reality of life in an ordinary neighborhood restaurant that’s on the brink of financial collapse. Walk in the beara new series from FX streaming on Hulu today.

Starring Jeremy Allen White and created by Christopher Storer of Eigth year celebrity, The Bear follows Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto as he returns to Chicago after a brief (but successful) turn in the world of fine dining. Before coming home to run the Original Beef of Chicagoland, an everyday sandwich shop, Carmy is something of a prodigy, having spent time in some of the world’s best kitchens – including Noma and the French Laundry – and has been named Food and wine Best New Leader, all before age 21. The script notes that Carmy won a James Beard award and was in charge of “the best restaurant in the world, at least according to Eater”. (Note: Eater does not host World’s Best Restaurant awards anywhere other than in our minds.)

But now Carmy is stuck in Chicago leading the Original Beef after the sudden death of his brother. he does so alongside a cast of very compelling supporting characters. Carmy tries to bring the restaurant’s cooking – and its sandwiches – up to his own standards, so he brings in Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), an ambitious and organized sous chef who’s tired of not being taken seriously in the restaurant world. She’s a perfect foil for surly cook Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas), who is deeply skeptical of how Carmy is changing both recipes and the way things have always been done at Original Beef. And then there’s real-life Toronto chef Matty Matheson, who makes recurring appearances, bringing both chef cachet and occasional comic relief to some of the show’s most tense scenes.

Over eight breathtaking episodes, the bear offers what might be the most authentic scripted depiction of life inside a failing restaurant. Her first moments look like something out of a reality show, maybe an episode of Nightmares at the restaurant, as Carmy tries to shape the kitchen. The restaurant is, like so many others, deeply in debt, leaving Carmy to trade vintage menswear for the beef he needs to make his sandwiches and with a pile of bills he has no idea how to pay. The air of this restaurant and its chef feels viscerally real, especially to anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant kitchen engulfed in chaos.

But Carmy is determined to make it work. Seemingly overnight, the staff at the Original Beef learns to say “behind!” and “corner!” when they walk around the kitchen with hot dishes or sharp knives, and “yes chef!” becomes as common a refrain in this seedy storefront as, I imagine, the French Laundry. Just like in the restaurants and in real life, however, with every step forward for the Original Beef comes at least one step back as Carmy attempts to both save her brother’s restaurant and fight back. his own trauma after working for an asshole chef, played in flashbacks by Joel McHale, in his old life.

In addition to its gritty authenticity, the bear is also deeply steeped in the “foodie” culture of the end of the millennium. Carmy is written with all the hallmarks of important culinary references that give it the credibility it needs – that Food & Wine nod, the James Beard Award – to impress upon the public that he is a serious leader. The actual scenes involving the food, the roasting of the top round to make Italian beef, the perfectly browned vegetables turning into fresh giardinera, are beautifully shot and induce hunger pangs without venturing too far into porn territory. eating. To be sure, Carmy’s sandwiches would look killer on the ‘Gram, and it seems likely this is the kind of place that would go viral on TikTok for serving top-notch sandwiches in an unassuming space. Hell, even the very popular Our place always Pan makes an appearance.

The series also crystallizes much of what we have learned about the impact of this type of high-stress environment on the people who make the restaurant industry possible, particularly mental health issues and disorders related to drug addiction. These diseases have been widely reported in publications like the one you’ve been reading right now for nearly ten years, and fits right in with the show’s themes. Is there anything more greedy than a former Noma chief suffering from an anxiety disorder? I do not think so.

And while it’s certainly entertaining for a food writer like me, I wonder who exactly this show is for: what is its audience? These are certainly not chefs looking to unwind at 2am after a long night of dinner service – no one wants to watch a show about their job when they’re not at work. A lot of the bear feels a bit like inside baseball, and many viewers won’t necessarily understand why Carmy is so frustrated that no one cares to say “behind!” when they walk into the kitchen with a plate of hot food. For viewers intimately familiar with food and restaurant culture, it feels a bit thematically dated. The tweezers food and chef angst are very 2010, but the acting and writing in the bear give it just enough heart to make it worth it.

By the end of the series, you might be wondering why Carmy better turn that crappy old restaurant into something awesome. Why wouldn’t he cut his losses and start over? But that’s largely the fundamental question of why anyone chooses to run a restaurant in real life, knowing that it’s nearly impossible to make a massive profit and there’s no end to the work that will have to be done. As the bearthe restaurant industry is built on chaos and uncertainty and men struggle with their egos, and that’s exactly what makes this series so precise and compelling.

All eight episodes of The Bear are now streaming on Hulu.

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