My Three Favorite Scenes From The Bear

I heard about The Bear TV show from my brother a few times over the past couple of years but I never really felt like watching it. A TV show about a frantic family-run bistro in Chicago? Color me sceptical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the catering or hospitality industry! My brother is a restaurant manager and I spent a fair amount of my youth cleaning dishes at many dubious establishments over a few summers before I learnt to make money by doing things with computers.

I’ve read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and was enthralled; not so much by the chapters describing the mastery of the craft, but by all the kitchen life stories he tells. It’s a crazy life. Long hours, unpredictable staff, an endless number of unhappy guests with the most insane requests you can imagine; the stress that fills your veins during busy hours is nothing in comparison to your cute API outage at 3AM in the morning. Ok, maybe it depends on the type of outage and whether it was you who caused it but you know what I’m trying to say here… Try watching a crazy sous chef punching your waiter in the middle of the service…or threatening your supplier with a knife….

Anyway, I finally caved in at the end of last year (2023) after I had quit my job at the time and found myself with plenty of free time on my hands. To my surprise I got instantly hooked on! The show is pretty intense at times with the type of screenwriting I haven’t experienced in any other show in what must have been years.

Now, I am not a TV show critic so YMMV but I wanted to share my three favourite scenes from the first two seasons – now that the third season is upon us soon – that strongly resonated with me for one reason or another. I thought the original impression was due to their intersecting with the things I was going through at the time I watched them, but as it turned out my enjoying them actually stood the test of time and I appreciate them now even more than I did back then.

Anyway, here goes..

On respect

Have you ever worked for a company where some of the people on your team don’t even try? I have and when I was younger (and dumber), I was that person on many occasions, too. Especially when I was given a task that felt was either “below me” or simply “not my job”.

Fix that silly bug!

Do this infrastructure work!

Luckily, that attitude didn’t stick with me. Otherwise, it’d probably just drive me nuts. I think. Or I’d get used to it. Many people in this industry do and they get by just fine. I just don’t get it. I mean I kinda do but also I don’t. When you reframe the lack of effort as an issue of respect, things take on a whole another dimension.

The least you can do is to pay some respect to your colleagues by at least trying to do your best….



Here is a small transcript of the most interesting parts from the conversation in case that video gets removed from YT:

Richie is sent to a Michellin star restaurant and is tasked with cleaning forks. Seemingly one of the dumbest jobs you can be given to do at a restaurant. He approaches it accordingly to much dislike of one of his co-workers.

Garrett: That wasn’t clean!

Richie: I’ve been doing this for nine hours, I think I know what’s clean

Garrett: Please do them properly!

Richie: Yo, they’re goddamn forks!

Garrett: No one is asking you to do that. I dont think anyone remembers your name.

Richie: You really drink this Kool-Aid?

Garrett: Yeah, I do.

Richie: Why?

Garrett: Because I love this….Every day is a freaking super bowl here. You dont have to drink the Kool-Aid I just want you to respect me. I need you to respect the staff, I need you to respect the diners and I need you to respect yourself.

On mastery

I’ve always been fascinated by masters of their craft. Professional athletes are my favorite kind. I grew up doing and reading about lots of sports. It still stuck with me to this date. I run, I swim, I try playing football whenever I have a chance and I read books about athletes. Some of my most favorite documentaries are about the most successful teams and individual athletes.

Mastering your craft requires an intense effort. For those of us whose natural abilities and talents don’t lie in in the tails of the statistical distribution, it’s even more intense. Gosh, I can’t tell you how many hours of coding, learning, trying and reading it has taken me so far and I honestly feel dumber by each day. Nowhere near the metaphorical “mastery”. At this point, I actually strongly believe the “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” metaphor is complete rubbish. At least for me personally it’s become more like “It’s not a swimming pool, it’s the Pacific Ocean” kinda thing.

Which is what makes me appreciate the true masters. The outliers in our field. Not the LARPers. The ones who do put the amazing work and then share it with the rest of us so we can get closer to their shadows by improving just a bit more every day.



Here is a small transcript of the most interesting parts from the conversation in case that video gets removed from YT:

Marcus: How did you get good at this?

Luca: Honestly I made a lot of mistakes…

Marcus: That’s the secret? Fuck up?

Luca: It might be, yeah, fuck up.

Luca: I think it was because I started too early. Got my skills set up really quick. Started to feel like I was really the best. You know like at all these really good places I really was the best cook and then I started at this really great place as a commis, and this other Chef started the same day as me and I thought we were the competition but really…we werent. he was better than me. Much much better than me. He worked hard and faster than I ever could and it was the first time I realized that I wasnt the best. And I was never gonna be the best. So I statred looking at it like it was a good thing, Like I knew who the best was and I could take that pressure off myself and the only logical thing was to do was try to keep up with him so I never left this guy’s side.

Marcus: And you got better?

Luca: Oh man, I got better than I ever thought I possibly could be…just from trying to keep up with him.

Luca: I think at a certain stage it becomes less about the skill and more about being open. To yourself, to the world to other people. You know some of the most incredible things I’ve ever eaten were not because the skill level was exceptionally high, or theres loads of mad fancy techniques, it’s because it’s been really inspired.

Luca: You can spend your all time in the world in here (kitchen) but if you dont spend enough time out there (outside world)…it helps to have good people around you, too.

Marcus: So was it worth it? The time you’ve put in?

Luca: I dont know, ask me tomorrow.

On success

I’ve no idea what success means in my field of work to be honest. But whatever it is I can confidently say that I’ve never experienced any, or at least none that I noticed. I’ve often wondered what would it feel like if I did. Or in general, what does winning the football World Cup feel like? The Roland Garros, the Stanley Cup or what have you…

I feel like this scene probably captures my expectations the best of what I’ve read about or seen elsewhere…



Here is a small transcript of the most interesting parts from the conversation in case that video gets removed from YT:

Syd: Can I ask you something and u can tell me to fuck off if you want?

Carmy: Doubt I’m gonna tell you to fuck off.

Syd: When u got that call…that 3 (Michelin) star call

Carmy: Fuck off!

Syd: Yeah, ok….How did it feel?

Carmy: First 10 seconds felt like a sort of panic cause I knew I just had to keep them. I had to retain them. And then your brain does this weird thing when it bypasses any sense of joy and just like attaches itself to dread…and I dont know after those 10s I had to turn over a really slow table because the entire United Nations Council was coming

Conlusion

Despite my reluctance to watch it, The Bear has become one of my most favorite shows. It’s got so much amazing screenwriting that I can’t recommend it enough if you have any spare time.

I am going to end this post with one last piece of dialogue that stuck with which I feel epitomises the ever so accelerating world we live in:

Claire: How’s your life been, Berzato?

Carmy: I’ve no idea!

Let me know in the comments what are your favorite scenes!

tv  tv  the bear  the bear  life  life