The Bear is an intense, critically acclaimed, new dramedy about a fine dining chef who has to return home to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop. Carmy (played by Shameless’s Jeremy Allen White) inherits the run-down restaurant along with all the cooks who work there, and as you can imagine, chaos ensues on this series that's a no-brainer to be added to the best Hulu original shows list.
I’m no stranger to working in hectic restaurants. I spent five years working for a certain restaurant chain — we’ll call it BananaZees — and let me tell you: you don’t know chaos until you’re serving a 25-top full of high schoolers who are all there to order half-price apps and water with like, 20 lemons.
So I’m here to give my definitive opinion on which of The Bear’s characters I’d most like to have by my side during a shift from hell.
If Fak (played by real-life chef Matty Matheson) is the fix-it guy, how come everything is always breaking? Fak is the employee who always manages to show up on time for family meals, but somehow still hasn’t fixed any of the things he needed to fix. I can guarantee that Fak would get on my nerves and in my way.
Fak is a coworker I’d love to go get a drink with after a long shift, but I’d want him out of my sight during the lunch rush.
Natalie Berzatto, a.k.a. Sugar, cosigned the loan for The Beef with her brother Michael, so she’s along for the ride, too. Sugar (played by SNL alum Abby Elliott) resents the restaurant, and not without good reason. She sees The Beef as the monster that killed her brother, and now it’s taking her little brother, too.
That being said, you can’t run a successful restaurant while one of the co-owners is constantly pressuring the head chef to close the place down. While I understand Sugar, I would not want to work with her.
Uncle Cicero (Oliver Platt) is a guy with connections. But, given the amount of gang activity that seems to surround The Beef, I’d rather he take a step back from the whole operation.
The Beef is also $300K in debt to Cicero — but doesn’t this guy have money? I can understand wanting your money back, but passing the loan on to Carmy after Michael’s death seems unnecessary. Can’t bygones be bygones?
I would not want Cicero as a coworker. The Beef doesn’t need any more scandal, no matter how much he loves his nephews.
Ebra (Edwin Lee Gibson) is the employee who just doesn’t know when to stop talking. He’s going to talk your ear off all shift, and annoy every coworker along the way. Take, for example, Ebra’s choice to read the entire article about Sydney’s risotto. Read the room, dude.
However, Ebra’s saving grace is that he was more than willing to accept the new role Carmy assigned him. Who wouldn’t want to have a title like Chef de Partie? He can stay, but he better get his head in the game.
Here’s my first hot take — I wouldn’t want to work with Carmy. In Sydney’s words, “Carmy is an excellent chef. But he’s a piece of shit.”
While I don’t quite think Carmy is a piece of shit, he hasn’t nearly sorted out his personal issues enough to spend all day, every day at his deceased brother’s restaurant. Who would be able to stay sane while doing that?
I wouldn't want to work for him, either. He takes his own insecurities out on his staff. Carmy’s meltdown on the first day of takeout orders reminded me a little too much of some of my least level-headed managers, although Jeremy Allen White's work in the scene was Emmy-worthy.
I have high hopes for Carmy in Season 2 (which was confirmed less than a month after The Bear’s premiere on FX on Hulu). I’d love to see him realize that he doesn’t have to carry the toxicity from his fine dining days into The Beef.
Here’s another hot take: I think The Beef would fall apart without Richie.
Sure, Richie (played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach) spends a lot of time slacking off and contradicting Carmy, but at the end of the day he’s a staple of the sandwich shop. Richie is scrappy. He kept the business alive during Covid (we won’t talk about how he did it), and he did it without Carmy. And, to be honest, I think Carmy needs a little bit of pushback sometimes. Plus, Richie is good with the customers, who recognize him as the face of The Beef.
Also, to be fair, he got stabbed and just walked it off. That shows dedication.
We love a dish washer who calmly and clearly communicates with his kitchen. Anyone who’s worked back of house knows that a good worker on dish can be the difference between a good shift and a disastrous one. Seriously, I can’t even count how many dishwashers I’ve seen quit in the middle of a shift because they couldn’t handle it.
Manny (Richard Esteras) stays out of everyone’s way, and that’s exactly what you need in a dish washer. He earned a soft spot in my heart when he nicely, but authoritatively, told his coworkers to take the tape off their dishes before bringing them to him.
Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) is the line cook at work who’s been there so long she’s practically everyone’s mom. She’s probably grandfathered into a nice hourly wage thanks to her seniority, so she takes her job seriously. She’s not planning on starting over somewhere else, so she’s going to get her work done and fight to see another day.
I also love how Tina starts to take pride in her cooking. Lots of line looks see the job as dull manual labor, but Tina sees it as a labor of love — you can see it on her face every time she tastes something that really speaks to her soul. Most importantly, though, is her ability to move on from arguments. You can’t work in a restaurant if you’re still holding a grudge from a bad shift a few days ago, and Tina understands that.
Marcus (played by Lionel Boyce) is one of the only chefs who immediately takes a liking to Carmy’s new way of doing things. He takes pride in his work, and he constantly wants to improve his skills. Marcus’ chocolate cake program was also a huge success for the restaurant, despite the fact that he’d never made a cake from scratch before.
The best thing about Marcus is that when he gets sidetracked, he’s still working. Sure, those donuts weren’t a priority right before the lunch rush, but he’s passionate about putting out food that represents the best of his abilities. Marcus can be my pâtissier any day.
Sydney (played by Ayo Edebiri) is the coworker who always has her head on straight. When she stepped into the walk-in for a moment of peace, I realized my restaurant experiences were universal. But, my favorite part about Sydney is that she doesn’t take shit from anybody — not from Carmy, and definitely not from Richie. Sydney knows she deserves respect, and she’s not going to settle for a situation where she doesn’t receive it.
Sydney is a person with lofty goals, but she also sets plans in motion to make her goals happen. She wanted to work with Carmy, so she got herself a job at his sandwich shop. She wants to make The Beef a better restaurant, so she crafts an organized strategy to cut down on costs, increase profits, and bring in more business.
The Beef might have gone down in flames by The Bear Season 1 ending if Sydney hadn’t shown up. Her determination and level-headedness make her the best coworker on the team.
Stream The Bear on Hulu (opens in new tab).
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.
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