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August 19, 2022

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“The Bear,” Hulu’s hit original series, is set in a Chicagoland diner kitchen. It’s being praised by critics and by chefs who are having a hard time finishing the show because of its painfully accurate depiction of the traumas of working in the food industry.

After the death of her brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal), Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) returns from a life in the upper echelon of New York haute cuisine to run Mikey’s sandwich shop in her town. Chicago native. He tries to bring a polished and organized work ethic to the restaurant, making big moves like hiring aspiring chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) to be his sous chef. However, between conflicts with her friend Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), paying off the restaurant’s crushing debts, and processing her brother’s death, Carmy begins to crack under the pressure.

Filled with industry jargon, French techniques, and excellent plating, “The Bear” has a lot of things right about working in a restaurant. Still, like any dramatization, the show isn’t a perfectly accurate representation of the industry. Some moments in “The Bear” will raise red flags for anyone who has ever worked in food service. This is everything the Hulu series gets wrong about working in the restaurant industry.

Staging isn’t usually paid

One of the pieces of chef jargon used in “The Bear” is the word stage. Pronounced as it is said on the show, staj, refers to a short period in which a cook will work for free with a chef, often with the intention of being hired full-time. We see this happen with Sydney in the early episodes of the series, but there is an unusual stipulation that comes with her position.

Traditionally, staging in a fine dining restaurant is an unpaid gig (via Michelin). This is pretty much industry standard across the board. In “The Bear”, a conversation between Sydney and Carmy indicates that this is not the case at this restaurant. When he asks to be paid for working, Carmy replies, “I’m paying you.” Sydney responds by saying, “You’re paying me to act,” implying that he’s paying her a low rate that doesn’t match the work she’s doing.

While Sydney is absolutely right about the fact that she should be adequately compensated for her work, the fact that Carmy paid her to act is rare in the restaurant industry.

They would have a front of house staff

“The Bear” has a unique point of view because it focuses on the back of the house staff. In a restaurant, anyone who works in a position that is not customer-facing is considered back of house. This means kitchen staff, dishwashers, etc. Most places that serve food have a back-of-house staff and a front-of-house staff who are responsible for jobs like serving food and managing the cash register. We’ve seen plenty of sitcoms about front-of-house waiters, think “Waiting” or “Party Down,” so “The Bear” benefits from doing something else. However, doesn’t it seem strange that they don’t have any kind of reception staff?

It appears that Richie is the one working the registry, despite being technologically inept, but he kind of is. In an early episode, we see Carmy working on the front end computer in an effort to show what a bind the restaurant is in, but in reality, the head chef wouldn’t be working the cash register every shift. In fact, he probably wouldn’t be working front of house. Even if they don’t need anyone to wait tables, any good restaurant needs a dedicated employee or two to work the register and keep the place clean during service hours.

Macus’s roommate would not be allowed in the kitchen

This is pretty obvious even if you have never worked in the food service industry in your life. Roommates, also known as non-employees, are not allowed in the kitchen. When Baker Marcus (Lionel Boyce) had his roommate come hang out with him at work, we got lost.

There are many health code violations that this infraction would break, as well as the general safety hazard that having an extra person would cause. Companies in most states, including Illinois (through The Hartford), are responsible for awarding workers’ compensation to anyone who is injured on the job. This means that having an extra person on the premises is a potential legal nightmare if they cause or are injured in an accident.

Of all the little ways “The Bear” stretches the truth, this recurring detail is probably the most blatant red flag for anyone who’s ever worked in a kitchen. Given all the dangers of having Marcus’s roommate chilling in the kitchen, Carmy is pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. Maybe he talks about how much Carmy has on her plate, but given her attitude about any other issues that come up, expect the chef to yell at Marcus for being irresponsible and wasting time. Instead, he just lets it happen, which a chef de cuisine would never do.

The chef de cuisine would not have been serving a catering event

This is intertwined with a lack of restaurant front desk staff, but there is no way for a restaurant chef to serve at a catering event. It just wouldn’t happen, even if working the event was a favor for Uncle Jimmy (Oliver Platt), who is now owed $300K by Carmy.

In the show’s fourth episode, “Dogs”, Carmy and Richie are forced to attend a boy’s birthday party to pay off their debt to Jimmy. It makes sense that one of them would have to go, and it makes sense that that person would be Richie. However, Carmy should be in the restaurant. Even in a family business with a small crew, catering is a job for the front desk staff, not the chef and owner of the restaurant. Basically, it’s unrealistic that Carmy would have been there, and “The Bear” just needed a reasonable excuse to put those three characters together in a weird situation.

Marcus would not have enough free time to experiment with recipes

“The Bear” frequently portrays working in a restaurant as back-breaking and demanding work. You work long hours with few benefits beyond your paycheck and the company of your co-workers. The show has been praised (via Eater) for its accuracy in this regard: People who work in mom-and-pop style restaurants work long, hard hours for ungrateful bosses. So, taking all of that into consideration, why does Marcus seem to have so much time off from work?

Not only does he have time for his roommate to come over and hang out with him while he works from time to time, but he presumably spends dozens and dozens of hours perfecting his chocolate cake and donut recipes. Marcus is the only pastry chef at a sandwich shop, which means he’s in charge of all the bread. You need a lot of bread for sandwiches, and that takes time. The free time you seem to have to experiment with perfecting desserts simply wouldn’t exist in real life. Think about it. After the first two episodes, when do we see Marcus making bread?

Carmy was way too chill about the health inspector

In the second episode of “The Bear,” the restaurant faces even more setbacks after a health inspector makes a surprise stop. The inspector arrives and gives them a C grade, prompting Richie to immediately rush to fix the place up. However, before they are obviously given a below-average health rating, there is no sense of panic. Actually, Carmy would have gone crazy.

He may be putting on a brave face in front of the inspector, but there would be a sense of panic. According to Eater, it’s common in New York City for restaurants to change the way they run their operations in the blink of an eye to appease the health inspector. In fact, one New York City service industry veteran told Eater that “when you tell [the chef] there’s a Health Department inspector in the restaurant, the color will go out of their face and they’ll be terrified.” “.

Detailed health codes can make it impossible for places to operate as efficiently as they need. As soon as the inspector arrived, everyone would have gone to work at Carmy’s restaurant to try to make the kitchen look as compliant as possible. It’s impossible for all those chefs to wear gloves.

Why would a sandwich place not do to-go orders?

One of the final points of the season is the restaurant finally opening for takeout, but its launch is a disaster leading Sydney and Marcus to quit. This is what happens in the impressive one-shot Episode 7, when Sydney accidentally leaves pre-orders open, overwhelming the system. What is the meat here? Puns aside, the real problem we see with this is that it’s pretty incredible that this type of store hasn’t been doing takeout, especially after the show acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic.

In “The Bear” episode 6, Richie admits that he and Mikey were selling cocaine during the pandemic to help keep the restaurant afloat. That’s pretty on-brand from what we know about how The Beef used to operate, but are we really supposed to believe that they didn’t try to make takeout sandwiches in order to recoup these costs first? It’s unrealistic that a place known for its Italian steak sandwiches hasn’t opened up for takeout, especially during the tough times of 2020, when restaurants made headlines by switching to takeout (via the Los Angeles Times). .

Mikey doesn’t pretend to be a business tycoon, but the money in the sauce jars revealed at the end shows that he was thinking about the future more than anyone realized. So yeah, we think he might have picked up on takeout.

The kitchen lingo is laid on a bit too thick

The use of kitchen jargon is a great stylistic identifier of the writing throughout the show. Kitchen slang used in “The Bear” such as corner, behind, and addressing each other as chef are words used in real kitchens across the country. The first two episodes of the show focus on a traditional French hierarchy of systematic restaurant organization that Carmy attempts to implement. This is all part of what adds to the sense of realism and precision in “The Bear.” However, the show’s writers go a bit overboard from time to time.

One of the criticisms that Food and Wine had about the first season of the show was the excessive use of kitchen jargon. There’s a great sense that Carmy is trying to bring fine-dining concepts to the sandwich shop (the season 1 finale solidifies this), but some of the terms they use are unnecessarily pretentious for the type of food being cooked. Also, they really do constantly call each other “chef” to the point where it can get irritating if you’re on a binge.

You wouldn’t do first aid in front of a window

It’s not so much about the food industry as it is about understanding the basics of health and sanitation. Simply put, behind the cash register in a guest-facing setting is the last place you want to perform first aid, especially with your pants down. What happens when Richie gets stabbed is more than dumb, it’s unbelievable.

In “The Bear” episode 7, Sydney accidentally stabs Richie in the butt in the middle of the most chaotic day the kitchen has seen yet. He immediately runs out of the kitchen and behind the cash register counter for Manny (Richard Mats) to fix. They do this, wiping Richie’s bare bottom, in full view of the front window. This type of first aid is not only done in restaurants. Also, this is definitely not the kind of thing in an area that faces the public. Perhaps a bath would have been a bit more appropriate?