17 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About “The Bear,” The Most Talked About (And Anxiety Inducing) Show Of The Summer

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17 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About “The Bear,” The Most Talked About (And Anxiety Inducing) Show Of The Summer

The cast calls each other “chef” on set.

1.

To prepare to play the neurotic and skilled culinary talents working at The Original Beef of Chicagoland, the cast of The Bear underwent some serious culinary training. Jeremy Allen White, who plays the protagonist and James Beard Award-winning chef, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, told The Takeout that in addition to talking to a bunch of chefs about the industry, he got a chance to work in the kitchens of Kumiko in Chicago and Pasjoli in Santa Monica. During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, White joked, “I walked into every kitchen apologizing, just like, ‘I’m sorry I’m here, too, but like, please be patient with me.'”


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White and his costar, Ayo Edebiri, who plays the rising talent, Sydney Adamu, also attended classes at the Institute of Culinary Education. In an interview with PopSugar, Edebiri said that she was “very grateful” for all the chefs and restaurants she learned from, and said that the Chicago-based Elske “saved my life” and “made me look not completely fake.”


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And Lionel Boyce, who plays the talented pastry chef and aspiring donut maestro Marcus, told Vulture that he got to observe the kitchens of New York City’s Tartine and Copenhagen’s Hart Bageri.


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.

Apparently, all that hard work has made an impression: In his interview with The Takeout, White said that his three-year-old daughter wholeheartedly believes that her dad is a real-life chef, despite his attempts to tell her otherwise. He said, “I always tell her I am not a chef, but she’s convinced now that I am, in fact, a chef.”


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, co-showrunner Joanna Calo said that the show was originally envisioned as a feature film. Because of this, Calo said that she and other members of the creative team “often tried to think of it as still just one big feature.”


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.

Series creator Christopher Storer told Uproxx that The Original Beef of Chicagoland is based on a restaurant owned by a friend of his. He explained, “We say very clearly that it’s set in 2022, but there is also something timeless about this place. It’s based on my friend’s restaurant in Chicago, which is located in this beautiful part of River North but it’s this relic of a different time. There’s a sign in there that says, ‘Even though it’s 2022 out there, it’s 1998 in here.'”


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5.

According to IndieWire, the only episode of the show that was shot in an actual restaurant (as opposed to a soundstage) was the pilot, “System.”


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6.

While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Calo revealed two major changes were made to the pilot’s plot during the show’s development: A scene where Carmy “freak[s] out at everyone” was removed, since the creative team knew that they would be covering that ground later in the series, and Sydney was written in after initially being introduced in the third episode since Calo “loved her.”


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

White spoke about Carmy’s (ultimately averted) pilot breakdown to Vulture. He explained, “After he finds the knife on the floor, he throws a pot, makes a big mess, and then he starts shredding everybody. Really laying into them. That was the most angry Carmy got, from my perspective, and they cut it. I don’t know exactly why, but I assume it was because they weren’t sure if audiences could get on board with a character so quickly losing it on everybody else. “


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.

Speaking of Carmy’s kitchen knife: While speaking to The Takeout, White singled out the moment where his character discovers his prized possession hidden underneath a stove as one that chefs who attended the show’s “industry screening” found particularly true to life (and infuriating). Said White, “Everybody was like, ‘That. Shit. Felt. Real.’ Because if that really happened, a chef is going to lose their fucking shit.”


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8.

Calo told The Hollywood Reporter that the show “definitely only hired writers” who had experience working in the restaurant industry in some capacity. Calo herself worked in her university dining hall and at an ice cream shop, and said that she “absolutely loved” both experiences.


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

Pictured with White as Carmy is real-life celebrity chef Matty Matheson as the restaurant’s go-to handyman, Neil Fak. Calo said that Matheson, along with series creator Christopher Storer and his sister, the professional chef Courtney Storer, contributed stories about their experience in the industry to the writers’ room. According to The Guardian, Courtney was also the show’s culinary producer. 

9.

Edebiri told The Cut that she was not particularly convinced by the idea of Sydney and Carmy becoming romantically involved. She explained, “I don’t personally think there’s anything romantic there! I don’t think the show is a sexual one. These people don’t have…very robust personal lives. They’re devoted to their jobs. If anything happened between Sydney and Carmy, nobody would be happy. It would be disappointing and jarring and weird.”

10.

In the same interview, Edebiri said that one of the trickiest cooking techniques to pull off on camera was cutting a cartouche, which she described as “a circular piece of wax paper that’s used to trap steam,” in the pilot episode. Edebiri said, “I wasted so much wax paper trying to get it into a perfect circle.” Despite the demands of sublime cartouche making, Edebiri said that her and her costars’ chef training focused, for the most part, on developing their knife skills.


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11.

In an interview with Vulture, Boyce said that while professional baker Sarah Mispagel-Lustbader did most of the work in preparing Marcus’s baked goods, she taught him how to apply the finishing touches. Boyce explained, “It would be me frosting it, or putting the glaze on, or filling the doughnuts, or whatever it was. It’s just me doing the final steps, because baking takes forever. We don’t have eight hours to film them from start to finish. It’s just TV magic.”


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.

“Review,” the seventh episode of the season, has been heralded by viewers as twenty of the most stressful minutes of television aired all year. When the restaurant gets an unexpected positive review (on a dish Sydney wasn’t supposed to serve) on the same day that they start taking digital takeout orders, the staff is quickly overwhelmed by demand and gives in to chaos, not to mention their worst impulses: Carmy screams at his employees, Marcus focuses on his donuts to the detriment of his cakes and by extension, the restaurant itself, and Sydney mocks the ever-abrasive Richie about his parenting before accidentally stabbing him.


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

The tension is relentless, largely due to the fact that the bulk of the episode is shot in a single take. White told IndieWire that the idea of the single take wasn’t added until a few weeks before they shot it; Storer and Calo rewrote the script to accommodate for the change. White said, “I think in our case, it really lends itself to the story and where the characters are at because the tension is building so quickly we don’t give the audience a break from it. There’s no reprieve — it’s consistent.”


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.

According to Vulture, the cast and crew did six of these massive takes in total, though some technical errors meant that only four of them were complete.


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14.

In the cold open of the season finale, “Braciole,” Carmy has a stress dream about hosting a cooking show. White told Vulture that the scene originally featured a cameo from an unnamed celebrity chef, who ended up turning down the appearance because she “didn’t understand the show.”


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White explained that in the original version of the scene, Carmy cooked with the celebrity chef before crying and hugging her because he confused her with his mother. In the final version of the cold open, Carmy is the sole host of a cooking show who begins to unravel after his prepped food vanishes and he burns himself, all while an unseen studio audience laughs at him.


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White said that this emotionally intense scene was the first he filmed for the series. He joked, “They were really fucking with me.”


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15.

Creator Christopher Storer and executive producer Josh Senior handpicked the songs used in the show’s soundtrack. Storer told Uproxx, “We became the music supervisors out of just desperation. We were like, ‘Let’s save some money and just do it ourselves.'”


Amy Sussman / Getty Images

Pictured is Storer with White at the series premiere afterparty. 

16.

In the series, Carmy insists on referring to everyone in the kitchen as “chef” as a sign of respect. White told IndieWire that the cast picked up the habit, too.


FX on Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

He said, “Everybody’s ‘chef’ on set. Everybody’s always chef. I don’t think it’s method, I think it’s just fun to say.”


Kevin Winter / Getty Images

17.

And finally: White told Vulture that he and his friend Ben Shields, a tattoo artist, designed all of Carmy’s tattoos together. White explained that Shields’ questions about Carmy’s tattoos were “actually my introduction to figuring out” the character, since it was a “really great exercise in writing a background for your character through the art they have.” One of Carmy’s tattoos is “773,” the area code for Chicago, which Shields suggested as one of the “very safe first thing[s] to get.”


FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

White himself has tattoos representing his parents, wife, and daughter, which he described as “all the safe ones.”


Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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