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The Bear is the best TV series set in a restaurant

the bearthe new mini TV series on the excesses of a professional kitchen, triumph of summer in the United States finally available in Italy on Disney+, takes place in a restaurant in Chicago.

Watch it, free from the monopoly of talent and reality TV shows, you will find cooking on television exciting. Why the series the bear it is considered the most compelling and realistic depiction of restaurant life ever brought to the screen.

1 – What is the Bear series about?

The official trailer for the series The Bear, available in Italy on Disney+

The one told in the series the bear is the story of Carmine Berzatto, known as “Carmy”, a talented young cook who, after establishing himself in some of the best restaurants in the world – how else would you define the “No but“By René Redzepi? – return to Chicago.

The family restaurant, theChicagoland Original Beefaffectionately called “beef“.

Not really a sandwich shop. Not even a diner and not even a fast food. We’re talking about a grocery store specializing in beef sandwiches, with a small menu of Italian-American dishes.

Carmy moved back to Chicago following the suicide of his older brother Mikey, the owner of the place, who made his will and left him beef.

But the restaurant is suffocated by problems that Carmy can’t solve. The suicidal brother owed $300,000 to his uncle Cicero, a sleazy businessman determined to break the legs of those who do not honor their debts.

The colorful protagonist of the series’ kitchen brigade the beari.e. the messy world that revolves around the restaurant beefis clearly unmotivated due to the tragedy that has befallen Carmy’s family.

2 – The talent of “Carmy” streaming on Disney+

Carmine ”Carmie” Berzetti

In the swamp that may be a failing restaurant, Carmy, along with Sous Chef Sydney, brings haute cuisine sensibility. His training is classic, with the expectations of kitchen brigades engraved in his soul like a tattoo. After all, says the chef, why shouldn’t a beef sandwich be a work of art?

At the end of the first episode of the series the bearCarmy has already revamped the menu to beef. He cooks the meat using new techniques, modifies the baking of the bread, pulls out of the menu an incommentable plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce, yet a favorite of the customers.

Causing the angry reaction of the manager of the club, his cousin Richie, who with the tome “The art of fermentation” of the No but in hand, he rails against his chef René Redzepi, guilty of having taught Carmy to cook ants but not “a fucking plate of pasta”.

It emerges from the first two episodes of the series the bear how the young chef goes to great lengths to save the restaurant. Sydney is well aware of this, an ambitious young cook who, with a starred course, has applied for the restaurant’s sous-chef.

After having spent the money set aside to eat in the great restaurants of New York, the best of which, coincidentally, is the one where Carmy worked.

When Sydney touches on the talent of the young chef, he asks him: “But what is a man like you doing here”? Carmy stops and ruffles her perpetually disheveled hair more. “I make sandwiches,” he says, and he goes back to work.

3 – The tribulations of a kitchen in 8 episodes of 30 minutes

Sydney and Richie argue
A heated discussion between Sydney and Richie in the beef kitchen

The author of the series the bear, Christopher Storer, is best known for his documentaries, including the 2013 film “Sense of Urgency”, about the famous American chef Thomas Keller. It is obvious that he knows how to capture the real operation of restaurants.

The series was filmed in a real Italian restaurant in Chicago. The spaces and the way the members of the brigade move around, and almost collide in the kitchen, are believable and genuinely claustrophobic. The general impression is that the lives of the cooks have been reproduced in a surprisingly faithful way.

But the most authentic recreation of life in a professional kitchen concerns its toxic working environment.

Even today, the catering brigades are based on the hierarchical model which places the chef at the top of the pyramid attributed to Escoffier, the great French chef who died in 1935. Without annexes neither glamor nor fun, such as hazing and alienating violence, both verbal and physical.

To date, many books on how to become an established chef have described the violent and self-destructive component of restaurant life as the only viable route to becoming a true artist in the kitchen. And the cruelty of language or the mistreatment of subordinates, as a language of truth.

But also because of the recent difficulty in recruiting staff in restaurants, this archetype of the “rock star chef”, ubiquitous at the beginning of the 21st century, is painfully dated today.

The harsh reality of catering with issues of workers’ rights, physical exertion and mental health erases the brilliant fantasy of being a chef as pure creative expression.

The fact that the bear refuses to align with this paradigm, it is another of its many merits, there are many chefs won over by the series for the way it captures the anxiety and volatility of working in a restaurant kitchen.

Some wept with excitement, observing how accurate the depiction of their lives was.

4 – Excess and abuse in the kitchen

Richie, the manager of the Beef in The Bear series
Richie, the beef manager

American audiences also enjoyed Chicago’s performance. From his culinary and extra-culinary topos (a billboard on the roof of the restaurant advertises Malört, a liquor with a taste reminiscent of the painting inexplicably loved in Chicago). The Chicago winter is harsh and colorless, gray mud on gray sidewalks under gray skies.

The American networks FX and Hulu, which broadcast the bear streaming, they classified the series as a comedy. In fact, in each of the half-hour episodes, there are funny moments. Largely because of Matty Matheson’s character, an adorably deranged celebrity DIY chef.

But the dominant themes of the series are despair and self-destruction.

Running the manager of Beef Richie, Carmy’s cousin and the late Mikey’s best friend, is unresolved anger. Tina, the restaurant’s main cook, hates taking orders from young Sydney.

Carmy himself harms his professional fulfillment by indulging in frequent outbursts of anger seasoned with verbal abuse, the same ones he experienced in his formative years and from which he cannot distance himself.

Through flashbacks, we learn that his behavior echoes the bullying he suffered at the hands of the chef he worked with in New York (all Heston Blumenthal-esque insults and glasses).

Even Sydney, whose calm and competent personality initially seems to improve the situation, perpetuates the cycle of violence. The whole kitchen brigade of the “Beef“It heals deep wounds, and everyone relies on a frantic pace of work to mask their miseries, even when the work itself is the cause.

5 – The Bear, the series in which everyone calls themselves a chef

The cast of the award-winning series The Bear
The staff of the award-winning television series The Bear produced by FX

The atmosphere is that of a dirty fairy tale. the bear is an energetic series about the life of a restaurant crossed by pain but able to maintain a faint glimmer of hope. Episodes take place almost entirely inside the club, in the cramped kitchen and neon-lit dining room.

But thanks to the expedient of flashbacks, we learn how the lives of the people who work there are spent outside the club.

We are witnessing the failure of the catering set up by Sydney; a young cook’s impossible dream of becoming an American major league baseball player; the bloody war that forced another cook to flee his native Somalia; Richie’s failed marriage; the separation of Uncle Cicero from his brother.

Carmy is filled with despair he can’t articulate and anger he can’t explain.

He often has surreal nightmares, in the most recurring of which a huge bear threatens to tear him apart. IS the bearof course, the bear that gives the series its title, as well as the nickname of his late brother Mikey, from the Italian surname Berzatto.

6 – Carmy Berzatto is actor Jeremy Allen White

Carmy and Tina in a scene from The Bear
Carmy with Tina, the dean of the kitchen

The plot of the bear it is, more or less, an attempt to answer the question “How will the beef stay afloat?”

But the show’s weakest moments are those related to economic survival, whether they make it out or not. Including – minor spoiler – a pretty ridiculous salvatore deus ex machina in the final episode (the series will have a second season.)

The mechanism that drives everything is the conflict between the refinement of haute cuisine and the desperate determination that often coexist in this type of environment. In Carmy’s attempt to make dishes better than beefyou have to improve.

From the start, the series charts a predictable trajectory: newcomers make their way teaching the therapeutic properties of technique and friendship to a group of disgruntled former traders. But the bear he does not abandon himself to the reassuring banality of love that conquers all. There are a lot of things to settle in the restaurant besides recipes, and there are also things to keep.

The military organization of the kitchen brigades dear to Escoffier is not a universal solution, and it is not enough to call a person “Chief” to bring his underlings to attention in their Crocs.

7 – The Bear: happy ending for the first season of the series

The restaurant beef from The Bear series
The Beef restaurant in Chicago

In the seventh episode of the series, perhaps the strongest of the bear, Sydney, frustrated by Carmy’s slowness to get things done, as she had promised, secretly serves an ambitious risotto to a visiting food critic. Certainly out of context in a place like beef.

The reviewer publishes an enthusiastic review, which attracts an unsustainable tide of customers, the classic kiss of death that sends the restaurant into crisis.

Beef he survived for decades cooking a handful of simple dishes well enough for enough customers to keep the ship afloat. Changing one thing, it turns out, changes everything else too. And it is not certain that change always corresponds to growth.

In the first episode, Carmy asks Sydney what she’s going to cook for the staff lunch, her first exam as a hopeful employee.

“Do you want to surprise us with something delicious or impressive?” asks Carmy? Sydney looks at him sideways and replies, “Delicious is impressive already.”

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