_
_
_
_
_

Three Golden Globes and a French omelet: How ‘The Bear’ has become a controversial global phenomenon

Its portrayal of the realities of a restaurant kitchen divides professionals. Some, like Jamie Oliver, say they can’t even watch it

‘The Bear’
Chef Matty Matheson, producer, actor and culinary advisor of the series The Bear.Frank Ockenfels (FX Network / Di

The Bear was one of the shows of the year at the Golden Globes. The comedy—a description that may seem dubious to many—set in a Chicago restaurant swept the awards: best comedy series, best television actor (comedy or musical) for Jeremy Allen White and best television actress (comedy or musical) for Ayo Edebiri. For television experts, the show was a winner, but what do real chefs think?

Part of the realism that the series can offer depends on chef Matty Matheson, who serves as producer and culinary consultant in addition to having a role on the Hulu show. But weeks ago, Jamie Oliver declared that he can’t watch The Bear because of its actors’ lack of talent in the kitchen. “He can’t chop,” he said. Do other experts agree with him?

“The first season reminded me of the family bar where I grew up because, although everyone wants everything to go well, everybody has different goals, which makes things go wrong,” says Israel Ramirez, the director of Saddle, a restaurant in Madrid, Spain, which was awarded a Michelin star and two Repsol suns. “Apart from the shouting, which…I’ve never seen in the restaurant business, and the guns, which I’ve never seen either, the atmosphere seems realistic to me. In particular, the fact that no one works just for money. They have a goal, and they move toward it: in the first season, each one on his own; in the second season, you can see the commitment and a common goal.” But that doesn’t mean that the show doesn’t take certain liberties. “From my perspective, the drugs and drinking they mention are not current. Nobody wants to work like that in 2023,″ Ramirez adds with a chuckle. “Otherwise, it’s so real and the situations are so believable that I wasn’t able to watch it on a workday.”

Premios Emmy
Actors Jeremy Allen White (left) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach hold their awards at the most recent Golden Globes. CAROLINE BREHMAN (EFE)

Tatiana Allard, the head chef at Barracuda MX (one of the best Mexican restaurants in Madrid, it received a Sol award), notes the emphasis on product quality, staff training, kitchen cleanliness, etc. “It is especially important for the younger generations who want to start in this business to know that no matter how simple or refined the cuisine we offer is, the most important thing is that we maintain high standards.”

The standards Allard mentions have come into sharper focus in The Bear’s second season, as the chaotic cast aspires to refine their cuisine and their restaurant. “I think the second season reflects the atmosphere of a high-level kitchen, the items are very well differentiated, everything seems to be organized and they don’t hesitate to repeat what is not perfect, as well as to train their staff as much as possible in schools or in good friendly restaurants,” says María de la Vega, the founder of VE-GA Catering.

The Bear also has its critics, including Dani Carnero, the head of Kaleja in Malaga, a Michelin-starred restaurant. “It seems over the top to me. I don’t think kitchens are like that. There are some things that are accurate, such as the fact that we chefs go to other restaurants to eat, to see, to influence us, but [not] the day to day of the series, all that damn chaos, that mess and madness, the ways they talk to each other...”.

Finally, one might wonder if the famous viral TikTok French omelet that Sidney’s character cooks in the second season is really that big a deal. Juan Alcaide, the co-founder of Umiko, a Japanese restaurant in Madrid with two Repsol Sun awards, sheds light on the situation: “Let’s see, it’s a classic French omelet with cream cheese. It’s quite similar to the one my mother used to make me.” On second thought, in the end, maybe that’s not so bad.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_