If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Sensitive advice, particularly when the kitchen is hostile, so dirty, and so disorganized it gets a C from a health inspector and populated by a resentful kitchen staff resistant to new systems and changes in the menu.
That is the toxic restaurant that is The Original Beef of Chicagoland, an obscure sandwich shop in Chicago that talented chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) must save from bankruptcy after he inherits it from his brother who had committed suicide, in the smash hit FX series Bear.
The personal and professional stakes are high, and you can actually taste Carmy’s desperation. He sells his vintage denim to buy meat. He caters at a children’s birthday party and accidentally spikes the cooler with Xanax. He hires a young chef to be his second-in-command risking more strife in his already boiling kitchen than him. This is why it is especially delicious when Carmy starts turning things around in this tense, riotous, and ultimately uplifting kitchen drama from series creator Christopher Storer.
Read More About The Bear:
Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto
Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) has finally escaped from his older brother’s shadow to become an award-winning chef in top-ranked restaurant Eleven Madison Park where he endured withering abuse from the top chef (Joel McHale). But the suicide of his brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal) forces him back to Chicago to run the struggling family shop that has racked up $300,000 in debt.
It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for Carmy who is determined to make good food and rehabilitate the restaurant all while facing his own demons. Obsessive thoughts. Anxiety attacks. And intense grief over the loss of a brother he looked up to but whose approval he never got.
Jeremy Allen White is compelling as the tousled, tattooed, tortured chef Carmy. Painfully believable as he shouts orders, chops vegetables, breaks up fights, and burns his hand in his battle to tame the restaurant’s runaway kitchen. White is best known for playing Phillip “Lip” Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless, a role he played for ten years. Alongside his role in Shamelesshe also starred in the Prime Video series homecoming, after schooland The Time Being. To transform into Carmy, White did basic training at the Institute of Culinary Education in Los Angeles and then worked at the Santa Monica restaurant Pasjoli.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard “Richie” Jerimovic
Richie is The Beef’s old guard. He shouts down and mocks Carmy’s attempts to change up the old joint’s menu and processes. “It’s a delicate ecosystem,” he warns Carmy. His protectiveness of the status quo is largely out of loyalty to his best friend Mikey but also because he doesn’t know any better. Richie, for all his loud opinions about how things are run and what should be on the menu, is not a chef, nor is he a manager (although he claims to have taken some kind of course). Instead, Richie is a side-dealing, heat-packing operator — he fires a gun to silence a harmless mob outside the restaurant. For all Richie’s protests from him, he is just as committed as Carmy to keeping the restaurant alive. He longs for a family, after all, and Carmy and The Beef’s kitchen staff are all he’s got.
Before Richie, Ebon Moss Bachrach played another polarizing character Desi Harperin in Girls. He was memorable as David Lieberman in The Punisher and as Niels Sorensen in the series The Last Ship. He plays Chris McQueen in the horror series NOS4A2.
Ayo Edebiri as Sydney
Sydney is the professionally trained young chef hired by Carmy to whip The Beef into shape only to become the “whipping boy” of kitchen staff resentful of the changes she implements. It’s going to be “a toxic hierarchical shit show,” she warns Carmy when he promotes her to sous chef or his second-in-command de ella. Sure enough, Sydney is hazed by the other chefs, turning up the heat on her pans and hiding the onions she chopped for an hour with an injured hand (an exposed box cutter got her).
Sydney pays her dues while also delivering a masterclass in leadership. She earns the grudging respect of the other chefs by being right most of the time and by being diligent and helpful. She saves Richie by getting the right caulk for the kitchen when he buys the wrong kind. She teaches her fiercest critic Tina how to remove potato skin without scalding her hands from her. She supports the pastry chef’s dream of making the perfect donut. It turns out that Sydney is the missing ingredient in the restaurant’s success.
Ayo Edebiri played Hattie in the Apple TV+ series Dickinson. She is a writer, comedian, and actor. She wrote for Netflix’s Big Mouth before taking over for Jenny Slate as the voice of Missy.
Uncle Jimmy is Carmy’s wealthy uncle. Equal parts beloved uncle and hard-nosed businessman, he loaned Mikey $300,000 to keep the restaurant afloat and fully expects Carmy to repay it.
Oliver Platt is one of the most recognizable character actors in film and television, best known for playing Daniel Charles in Chicago Med, chicago fireand Chicago P.D.. He also had memorable roles in The West Wingthe TV adaptation of Fargoand Nip/Tuck. His films include Frost/Nixon, Lake Placidand flatliners.
Liza Colon-Zayas as Tina
One of the original members of Mikey’s kitchen staff, Tina is the least thrilled about the changes brought about by Carmy and Sydney. She refuses to wear the new team apron. She passive-aggressively avoids calling Sydney “Chef” and calls her Jeff instead. She sabotages Sydney’s prep work and slyly smiles while doing it. “I’ve been here since before you were born,” Tina tells Sydney. She knows good cooking though and eventually comes around when she gets a taste of just how good The Beef can be.
Liza Colon-Zayas has appeared in shows like Law & Order and Sex and the City. She was also a regular cast member on the fourth season of HBO’s In Treatment.
Lionel Boyce as Marcus
“Donuts are deceptively hard,” says Sydney when she learns of Marcus’s passion for making the perfect donut. He had loved donuts when he was a kid, fondly remembering that his “family of him was always happy whenever we got donuts.” Good thing Marcus is as hardworking as he is passionate, putting in extra hours and trying new tools to create his cakes and donuts as The Beef’s pastry chef.
To playMarcus, actor Lionel Boyce went to Copenhagen to train under Richard Hart, the British sourdough expert who makes bread for the world-renowned restaurant Noma. Boyce appeared in Jackass Forever and The Jellies. He is also known for collaborating with Tyler, the Creator on the animated comedy Loiter Squad.
Matty Matheson as Fak
The lovable, dependable Neil Fak serves as The Beef’s all-purpose handyman, providing much-needed hilarity as he deals with exploding toilets, sputtering power, and even the white-hot temper of Richie whom he fights and makes up with — just one more broken thing to fix in The Beef.
Handyman Fak is played by Canadian celebrity chef Matty Matheson. Initially brought in as consulting producer on the series, Matheson was asked by Bear creator Christopher Storer to act in the show. Matheson said yes, but “I don’t want to be a chef.” The rest is TV history.
Edwin Lee Gibson as Ebraheim
Old-timer Somalian chef Ebra brings much-needed calmness to The Beef’s kitchen, having seen and gone through worse. I have survived The Battle of Mogadishu, after all. He can certainly survive having to bandage Richie’s butt laceration after a fight. Every kitchen needs an Ebra.
Edwin Lee Gibson is an OBIE-winning New York stage actor who also recently appeared on HBO’s Winning Time as Bill Russell.
Carmy’s older brother Mikey Berzatto appears only in one scene, cooking food in the home kitchen while telling Carmy and their sister Abby about the crazy night he and Richie met Bill Murray at a party. Charismatic and clearly the king of the Berzatto kitchen, it is easy to see how shocking his suicide must have been to everyone who knew him.
Jon Bernthal who always makes a strong impression is indelible as Mikey. Bernthal most recently starred in HBO’s We Own This City. He also appeared in The Walking Dead, The Many Saints Of Newark, The Wolf Of Wall Streetand the punisher.
Abby Elliott as Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto
Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto is Carmy’s caring sister. She worries about Carmy’s mental health when he finally tells her about his anxiety. She advises him to go to Al-Anon, the organization for people affected by the addiction of people close to them.
Abby Elliott who starred on Saturday night Live for four seasons plays Sugar.
Appearing in short but memorable scenes are comedian Joel McHale as the Michelin chef from hell who torments Carmy in a flashback and Molly Ringwald as the Al-Anon leader who offers Carmy sage survival tips but also unwittingly gives him menu ideas.