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August 28, 2022

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The Bear has a spot-on that Carmy’s violence has led to reports of PTSD in food service veterans.& #xD;

FX’s breakout hit The Bear features a classic representation of the problems facing the nation’s food workers.

The eight-part mystery series follows Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), a young chef from the world of fine dining, as he returns to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop after the death of his brother.

The show is full of details that are familiar to those who have worked in restaurants: from the plastic baskets to the main thing that draws water from the constant conversation between colleagues. Beyond those, the show shows the pressures that drive many restaurant workers to addiction and isolation — either to drown out the noise or to keep up with the fast-paced environment.

The series is spot-on because Carmy’s violence has caused a stir in the food service veterans. For some, the show can be a reminder of the yelling, harassment, sex, arrogance and overwork they endure on the job.

We caught up with six San Antonio food service celebrities to get their perspective on Bear’s consistency and what they think the show conveys to viewers outside of the industry.

The show liberates all of us who choose to be “disruptors” in this unwanted business, and helps ensure that our efforts are not undermined by Food Network and social media. Our concerns and struggles are all real. The show shows all the real struggles of owning a restaurant: bills, health checks, staff, wages. I could go on for days. It is a profession meant for the worrisome and not for the faint hearted. It also shines a light on the relative dynamics of many kitchens. It seems that everyone in the kitchen knows more about the lives of their colleagues than their own family. We support each other, not only through the struggle of everyday work, but also through thinking with advice and support about everyday life. Bear is the only “chef” show that nails it.

Founder, Saint City Culinary Foundation

Other than just being a well-made show, he was very accurate about the details… the attachment of most chefs and knives; drinks from delis; dealing with a long-time professional member who refuses to buy into the new way of doing things; the anxiety that can sometimes arise when the ticket printer won’t stop working; the concern of the private owner to pay the bills, pay the workers and still produce a quality product. Adding the story about his own demons related to family abuse in Alcoholics Anonymous was amazing. Like many people, the “Review” [field] caught my attention a bit. I used to be a long-time cook who got yelled at for not being able to keep up with work, but I also lost it on an employee once because of stress when the computer crashed, and we had to do everything by hand one day. I feel like I’m back there. When the story ended, I was completely silent. [My wife] Allysse looked at me and asked if I was okay. Pain sticks to a person, and it is hard to shake, even when you get a lot of medicine.

I mean, obviously, the entertainment level is there for me because I can relate to it. And seeing [actor Jeremy Allen White] in another show, other than Shameless is great. But…it’s a bit disappointing to me, because I feel like it perpetuates the dishonor of the kitchen, which I feel like the industry has tried to get rid of. I think San Antonio has always been kind of removed from that, in my experience. Where I experienced these toxic situations, actually, was in Austin. When I was 18 and working in a kitchen in Austin, glassware was thrown at my station when I messed up, and pans were thrown at me. And it seems that this is excessive, but it happened. It’s actually quite common, unfortunately. The forefathers of San Antonio food, Mark Bliss and Bruce Auden, [have] done a great job of developing a healthy environment. I have never been treated rudely in any of those kitchens. I have never been sexually assaulted – nothing has ever happened – and I work with both men for the most part. So, I think that speaks volumes for the culinary culture of San Antonio.

The scene where [actor] Jeremy White finds his knife on the kitchen floor made me scream, “What the fuck?” with a loud voice. When it screams, looking for a permanent mark, it shows how the service industry can be – and it describes all the things that are needed right. Also, it shows all the important aspects of the relationship, like all the love and hate between everyone and how it can and can’t work.

Chef/Owner, Satisfying Food Truck, Enzo’s Culinary

I love the series, but it was, of course, dragging. I think all chefs are Carmy at some point in our careers, especially in flashbacks when he’s in the mood for a good meal, and the chef tells him he’s not going to be anything. I think Carmy is saying all these negative things to himself because that’s how he feels about himself. That feeling that you are trying your best and putting out your best, but you still doubt everything you put out. It’s related.

One thing I like the most is the fact that, when it comes to injuries that happen in the kitchen, [it’s shown] that it’s not a big thing – it’s usually a collection of small things. So, there are two scenes where a fight breaks out, and everyone rushes, but it’s not just because one thing happened. The main character throws him into ownership and work early, when his whole life is cooking, you know, and that’s a lot of fun. Because if you own the place and the bathroom is broken, then you have to think about how to fix it. The light goes off, or the gas is turned off, and suddenly you become an engineer. Maybe someone has some real personal issues, and you become a psychologist, and you’re still trying to run a restaurant, you’re still trying to cook and still be creative and enjoy your craft. I got messages from some friends from high school, like, “Ude, is this really? This is your life?” And it’s always like, “That’s one of the reasons why we’re so damn crazy.” For someone who is not familiar with the kitchen it is fun and interesting to watch, and for those who are familiar, you know that it is not what happens in the kitchen every day, but the representation, you know, it is excellence. [Chefs] can be represented very well, so this is something fun and new, and it resonated with me.

There are a few aspects that are completely connected as a homeowner and a chef, and I think they’ve been well researched and worked on. The hazing and chatter in the show is very light compared to what I saw as a young chef. Those things are in competitive kitchens where chefs and cooks can throw away. Fortunately, San Antonio chefs, for the most part, see our employees as our greatest asset. It is a better drama than the history of the industry. Although, the scene where both the chef and sous chef are outside at the end of episode three, where the last words are “fuck brunch?” Yes, fuck brunch.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find the latest San Antonio dining news with Friday’s Flavor Journal.