Our editor texted way too early on Saturday morning to say, “You seen The Bear on Hulu? Watch it or die.”
Not wanting to die, we switched from old Rex Harrison clips on YouTube to Hulu and started screening the new Hulu/FX show from Eighth Grade producer/Hasan Minhaj collaborator Christopher Storer. We were pleased (and Hulu’d) to learn he’d somehow landed Jeremy Allen White (being Lip from the excellent Showtime program Shameless—the best character on that show) to star in his program.
The dramatic-ish tale of a young fine dining chef who winds up running his family’s beef sandwich joint in Chicago, The Bear is a taut and well-crafted bit of storytelling that is very much about the politics between given and chosen family, but, and stick with us here, it’s also like a love letter to food and the various tiers of foodservice that make up the broader tradition of feeding folks.
White is an absolute powerhouse in the role of Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a guy who won astonishing accolades early in his career but must return from his prestigious chef de cuisine job in New York following his brother’s suicide. We won’t spoil the plot any further, and we know this is a little more TV than food, but we’re getting to the part that’s food-related, so chill out.
Now then. Why, The Fork, are you telling us of television? Because The Bear might be the single most realistic depiction of working in foodservice we’ve seen onscreen, dear reader, not counting reality television, which is stupid. Oh, sure, there was that wack-ass 2005 movie Waiting, but that was really more of a stoner comedy about shitty employees feeling like their lives sucked. And oh, sure, White’s Shameless character is shockingly similar to this one here, but he’s still rock solid, and The Bear delves so knowingly into the lives of people who love and live for food that we’re just gonna overlook that part.
Themes of obsession and perfectionism emerge alongside much-needed takedowns of things like the genius chef who treats everyone like shit or the over-achiever who thinks that only their plan is the right one. Storer and company raise the stakes with the omnipresent reminder of the razor-thin profit margins most restaurants make. It feels validating for anyone who ever cleaned a station, started a shift on the wrong foot or faced a crowd who could never possibly understand the plight of the food service worker. We’re struggling not to give you character specifics or our own take on those days wherein things start at screwed and progressively get worse, but we’re not going to do that. We want you to go in fresh like we did.
Maybe later we can talk about it again, but the last thing we’ll say is that everyone who likes to eat out should watch this show. Maybe it’ll give you a glimpse into why customers have an obligation to take a deep breath and bear with the people who make their food. Maybe it’ll teach you a thing or two about the levels of dedication required to get cheffy. Maybe you just like a good drama or something? Who knows. What we do know, though, is that everyone should watch that show The Bear. They should watch it so hard.
And not for nothing, but Jeremy Allen White is hot as fuk (not that it’s only about that).
-Santa Fe Asian fusion joint Liu Liu Liu seems to have permanently shut down, according to a sign in its window saying that it is “permanently closed” and a message on its phone line saying the same. Too bad, too, as one of SFR’s writers adored the place. C’est la vie, though, right?
-We’d congratulate The Santa Fe New Mexican for pointing out that pizza joint Tender Fire Kitchen is going brick-and-mortar, but we here at The Fork broke that news AGES AGO. Nice try, friendly competitors.
-BREAKING: We had a no carne burrito from Felipe’s Tacos for lunch, and it was awesome. We’re going to reiterate that we’ve heard owner Felipe Martinez has been looking to sell the business for some time now, so gather ye tacos while ye may.
-Big congratulations to The Compound’s Wine Director Kristina Hayden Bustamante for winning Wine Spectator’s Best Of Award of Excellence for the third year running! honestly? The restaurant slaps.
-Santa Fe’s Poki Tako food truck was broken into recently, and chef/owner Randy Tapia is none too pleased about it—nor should he be. Hey thieves? If you’re going to break into someplace, maybe keep the local folks running an incredibly difficult business off your list?
-In better food truck news, word on the street is that you’ll find a new shaved ice spot dubbed Hawaiian Shaved Ice located at 1544 Center Drive. The only other info we have is that it appears to exist adjacent to sno-cones, and that you can call ’em at (505) 808-0252. Get after it.
-According to a study from restaurant point-of-sale company SpotOn, New Mexico diners increased how much they tip from October 2021-April 2022, despite inflation across the board. Way to go, New Mexico! This suggests to us something we’ve long-known: Many New Mexicans care if their fellow humans live or die! So tip hearty and laugh, dear readers. You’re making the good change.
There. This is bear-related.
-As Pride Month winds down, catch this excellent piece from Eater-dot-com about how queer chefs are reclaiming bottom food. If you already know what that means, good for you! If not, read up and be cool.
-We didn’t actually start eating chicken again because the vegans kept pulling up next to us at stoplights and doing that thumb-across-the-throat gesture like they were out to murder us, but we did think that those among you who do do that would want to know how long you can keep cooked chicken in your fridge before it’s too late.
-Speaking of chicken, Bon Appétit has now described the new chicken sandwich at Starbucks as “bleak.” We’d point out that the entire Starbucks gestalt is bleak. #OhorisForever
-Lastly in not-just-local info, Taco Bell has a new Tostada THAT IS SERVED ON TOP OF A GIGANTIC CHEEZ-IT!!! We are very much here for this and think the only possible improvement would be a Crunchwrap made with a gigantic Goldfish.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
In this week’s print edition of SFR, Palace Prime almost killed our people with unbridled excellence.
Number of Letters Received
*Is this because it’s summer and it’s nice outside?
Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)
Really Helpful Tip(s)