‘He Can’t Chop’: Jamie Oliver Can’t Watch ‘The Bear’ Because Carmy Isn’t A Super Talented Chef Like Jamie Oliver
Asking celebrity chef and anti-chicken nugget advocate Jamie Oliver to break down how the actors in The Bear aren’t real professional chefs would be like making Michael Avenatti explain why Law & Order verdicts aren’t legally binding.
It’s a complaint that professionals of all fields have had since the dawn of the police procedural — a popular TV show revolving around a specific job fails to convince viewers who actually do those jobs in real life that the actors are trained trauma surgeons. As a result, the rest of the audience, whose only exposure to those professions is on TV, are eager to hear from the pros about how Hollywood butchered their noble occupation while high school science teachers across YouTube earn millions of views over their exasperated reactions to blue meth.
Put simply, if a TV network decides to produce a fictional TV show about your day job starring professional actors who are playing pretend, you’re going to notice some inaccuracies, and your explanation of cut corners and editing tricks will be immensely entertaining to anyone who hasn’t spent 34 years working as a safety inspector at their local nuclear power plant.
Enter Jamie Oliver. The English restaurateur and author is known to many Americans for his war on massive food companies who slip undesirable animal byproducts into our diets – but, during his recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, he saved some of the snark he usually reserves for pink slime to serve to the creators of The Bear, the critically beloved dramedy about cooks in Chicago. “I’ve got to get back into The Bear because I watched the first two (episodes), and I know it’s brilliant; everyone keeps telling me how brilliant it is,” Oliver told his host of his viewing habits. However, the knife skills of the main character Carmy caused him to change the channel: “I watched the first two and I’m like, ‘He can’t chop.’”
Next he’s going to tell us that Henry Cavill can’t fly.
“They just jump cut it and cut around it,” Oliver said of the on-screen food preparation. “And they often get extras in the background that are actors, not chefs, even though they’ve got no lines. But they’re just touching it all wrong and sort of bashing it all wrong. Yeah, it does wind me up.” It does seem odd that the TV show would hire background actors to do background acting instead of finding a kitchen full of professional chefs willing stand around on set doing nothing for 10 hours to get 30 seconds of usable footage. As The Bear teaches us, real chefs love it when their workplace moves painfully slow.
Obviously, the actor playing the culinary wunderkind Carmy isn’t himself a food genius — Jeremy Allen White had to train with the Institute of Culinary Education in preparation for the role — but Oliver’s criticisms feel particularly ticky-tacky considering how much The Bear got right. Many fans of The Bear who spent years working in high-stress restaurants (myself included) say that the complex characters, relationship dynamics between them and the frantic atmosphere the show painstakingly creates make The Bear one of the most realistic depictions of the unglamorous realities of restaurant work ever to air.
The show’s culinary producer, professional chef and sister to the showrunner Courtney Storer, clearly thinks so.