I watch very few tv shows, but I can’t get enough of “The Bear,” the FX show about Chicago restaurant life now in its second season. The series follows Carmy, a James Beard Award-winning chef as he returns to his late brother’s sandwich shop, the Original Beef of Chicagoland.
Here’s the premise: Carmy, played with disarming intensity by Jeremy Allen White, struggles to keep the restaurant afloat and prevent the workers from abandoning ship. The cast includes earnest new chef Sydney (Ayo Edibiri), hot-headed wannabe made man Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and gently giant pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce). My favorite character is Tina (Liza Colon-Zayas), a spitfire cook who finds her life in the discipline of a professional kitchen.
The first season of “The Bear” did not disappoint. In fact, it left me intrigued about the future of the crew of “Original Beef.”
The second season left me exhausted and hooked, absolutely hooked, on the future of the new fine dining restaurant named “The Bear.”
Watching “The Bear”
I’ve never worked at restaurants, and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the frantic, pressure cooker existence in media depictions. It makes for good drama with a side of relief for my life choice not to follow my one-time dream of cooking in a professional kitchen.
My takeaway from two seasons of “The Bear,” is that family is where you find it. For better or for worse, you have the family you’re born into, the families you create and the families you find. You can try like hell to fix them and manage them, but gaaah, it can be a hard way to go.
I like to quote writer Anne Lamott: “Family is hard hard hard.”
An observation: it helps if you can cook.
Let’s move on to the world of “The Bear” ~ food, especially the beloved Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches featured at Original Beef.
Italian beef was a signature dish of my friend and neighbor, Jeff Miller.
Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches
I wish I could talk with my friend “Chef” Jeff Miller about “The Bear.” He’d get such a kick out of it. He loved Chicago and he loved good food, especially Italian beef sandwiches. Jeff passed away suddenly in 2022.
The year before he passed, Jeff shared his recipe for Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches with me. A lovingly prepared and absolutely delicious roast beef studded with garlic and pepperoncini and served with jus. It’s a winner and I hope you try it.
Cook food for your families, friends.
Build traditions around the table.
Talk. Like. Love. Repeat.
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Credit: Photo of “The Bear” cast from FX.