Kitchen Confidential is a sexy, funny and delicious TV show, and yet FOX decided to take it off the menu after airing only four episodes. They say it was cancelled due to low ratings, but my guess is the series is just too subtle and clever to amuse FOX executives. Now with the arrival of the DVD, fans finally get a chance to tuck into all 13 tasty episodes and enjoy the lusciousness of the show’s mix of humor and cooking. Dig in!
8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
Based on famed chef Anthony Bourdain’s best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential follows the adventures of Jack Bourdain (Bradely Cooper), a talented chef whose career faces a major setback when he succumbs to a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol abuse. Jack has a hard time trying to get his life back on the right track, but when he is offered the unique opportunity to become head chef at one of New York’s finest restaurants, he sees hope. Only condition: he has barely 48 hours to fully staff his kitchen, find the best food and design an exquisite menu that will please more than 300 guests, including a food critic for The New York Times.

Created by Darren Star, who brought us Sex in the City, and produced by Dave Hemingson (executive producer of American Dad), the first and only season of Kitchen Confidential takes its viewers behind the scenes of a chaotic restaurant in which the food is cooked and served by eccentric characters striving to be the best at what they do. Packed with hilarious gags and sarcastic dialogue, each episode confronts Jack and his crew with unexpected challenges that require great teamwork and cooking skills. Whether this means satisfying the harshest food critic in town, killing a family of rabbits, or devising a cruel plan to eliminate the competition across the street, Jack always has his hands full.

What really makes this series so spicy is the idea to confine the main characters exclusively to a kitchen and dining room. This not only allows the actors equal on screen time, but also gives rise to an array of interpersonal conflicts and competitions. Who can cook the best steak? Who stole the espresso machine? And who has the guts to ask the hostess out on a date? These are only a few of the many uproarious problems that the waiters, chefs and sous-chefs will have to deal with over the course of the series.

Highlights of Kitchen Confidential include the pilot “Exile on Main Street,” and “The Robbery,” an episode in which Jack leads the impossible mission of reinstating the reputation of the restaurant after a gang of bandits stole the food and scared away all the customers. For me, the most captivating episode of the series is the season finale “And the Award Goes to…,” in which the restaurant competes for a prestigious cooking award. It is not only the most emotional episode of the entire season, but it also brings closure to unfinished subplots, reveals some shocking secrets and unites all the main characters for one last hurrah.

Kitchen Confidential is a television series with a lot of potential, but sadly enough, it was left without a chance to prove itself out on the market. Considering this show comprises all the necessary ingredients to appeal to a wider audience, I can only hope the DVD will work its way into the hearts of everyone who shares a passion for good food and takes pleasure in consuming tasty comedy.
7 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating
As I mentioned above, the release of the Kitchen Confidential DVD is a real treat for fans of the show because it comprises all unaired episodes. I really appreciate that the people at FOX finally decided to release the complete series and throw in some informative bonus material about the show, considering didn't treat it with care when it aired back in 2005.

Next to an official trailer for the show, the disc includes a three-minute segment called “Tour of the Nolita.” Actor Bradley Cooper, who plays Jack Bourdain in the series, takes his viewers on a short tour across the set of the restaurant and kitchen, offring a brief insight into the chaos that reigns when chefs are preparing meals for more than 300 hungry guests. Although this is a fairly short feature, it should have included more technical details, such as the construction of the set. We learn is that the kitchen is an exact replica of a Los Angeles restaurant, but that’s it.

The bonus material also includes “A Recipe for Comedy,” a 13-minute behind-the-scenes documentary in which executive producers David Hemingson and Darren Star discuss the original idea behind Kitchen Confidential. In what is a remarkably enlightening piece, they also talk about casting calls and their choice of Bradley Cooper for the lead role. The cast also gets a chance to speak up, discussing their favorite moments and episodes, actor interplay, and their cooking skills. From what they tell their viewers, the food must have been great on the set. This featurette is also quite emotional because it captures the cast’s feelings about the sudden end of the show. Most of them gave their best and became good friends during the shooting, which makes the cancellation of the series all the more dramatic. Everybody who enjoyed Kitchen Confidential to the fullest extent knows exactly what I mean.

Wrapping up the special features section are two commentaries, one for the pilot “Exile on Main Street” and one for “And the Award Goes to…,” the season finale. In two very animated discussions, Darren Star, David Hemingson, actor Bradley Cooper and screenwriter Karin Rosenthal babble about a variety of things, such as the relationships between the actors and crew members, their best moments of the show and in what regard the cast benefited from the vast quantities of food during the production. They walk through some scenes with more detail, always entertaining their viewers with some hilarious anecdotes. The two commentaries are overall satisfying, shedding light on the creation and production of the show.

Ultimately, the extras on the Kitchen Confidential DVD prove to be valuable delicacies essential to every fan of the series. Jack Bourdain and his team cook a lot of mouthwatering dishes in front of the camera, so if you do not fully agree with me on the quality of the humor that embraces the show, watch it for the food. Bon appétit!

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