Cooking up something good

Cooking up something good

July 8, 2024


Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri and the cast of The Bear come together to discuss the third season of the Chicago-set, stress-inducing culinary comedy-drama.

While the start of the third season of The Bear could have resembled some sort of escape-room nightmare, with Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto attempting to free himself from the titular restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator he was trapped in at the end of season two, actor Jeremy Allen White is pleased that isn’t the case.

“I do get out of the walk-in refrigerator and that’s good,” he explains, “and then Carmy does what he does, which is he buries himself back in his work and really tries to challenge himself and, in doing so, really challenges everybody around him and I think becomes quite challenging to be around, as well. A lot of challenges.”

But that explanation could almost describe the character in every season of The Bear. When the show began in 2022, the story introduced the award-winning New York chef as he returned home to Chicago to take over his family’s Italian beef sandwich shop following the suicide of his brother, Michael.

In S2, preparations were underway to transform the shop into high-class restaurant The Bear, alongside Carmy’s “cousin,” manager Ritchie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), sous-chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce), veteran cook Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) and handyman Neil (Matty Matheson).

Now, in season three, Carmy, Sydney and Richie must do whatever it takes to elevate The Bear to the highest level, all while just trying to stay in business as Carmy pushes himself harder than ever and demands excellence from his crew, who do their best to match his intensity.

Created by Christopher Storer, the series is produced by FX Productions and airs on Hulu in the US and Disney+ internationally. Executive producers include Josh Senior, Joanna Calo, Cooper Wehde, Tyson Bidner, Matheson and Hiro Murai, with Courtney Storer as a co-executive producer and culinary producer.

Here, the cast come together to discuss making the latest instalment of the funny, emotional and always stressful series.

Stars Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in first episode of The Bear S3

Coming back for season three, the cast are building on their firm friendships behind the scenes.
Moss-Bachrach: For me, the workplace feels very safe and warm, and when you feel supported that way and taken care of, I feel entitled to dig deeper and share more personal things and take risks. It creates a far more dynamic story to tell. I probably speak for [the cast] and probably for a lot of our crew [when I say] everyone has agency on our set. Everyone feels entitled to say how they feel, to collaborate, to contribute. And it makes for a really exciting place to make a TV show.

The trailer teases a new “partnership agreement” between Carmy and Sydney, cementing their partnership running The Bear.
Edebiri: One of the things in the season that we deal with is what it means to Sydney and what that next step would mean for her relationship with Carmy, who’s somebody I think she really has looked up to but now is in the thick of doing business with. It’s a lot more chaotic than she might have idealised before they really started working together.

White: For Carmen, he’s not the best communicator but he will often make a grand gesture like that to try to communicate to Syd or the kitchen or whomever. That’s his way of reaching out. But oftentimes, I feel like people aren’t prepared to receive… I think he’s got a lot going on in his mind all the time and people aren’t always aware of exactly what’s going on. You’ll see obviously how that affects Carmen and Syd’s relationship. But Carmen’s trying to welcome her in a little bit, [which] was the point of the partnership agreement.

Season two also saw the often volatile Richie work in another restaurant to hone his skills as a manager, and in season three, the character now sees the path ahead.
Moss-Bachrach: Season three picks up not long after season two ends. And I don’t know, I think Richie is in a place where he’s been exposed to maybe a more evolved way of being. But it’s one thing to see the path and it’s another thing to walk it. Like any kind of personal growth, it’s forward and back and there’s not a kind of clear and one-direction path.

Edebiri also took on directing duties for the new season, helming episode six

The theme of grief runs through every season of The Bear, with much of the kitchen crew still processing Michael’s death.
Abby Elliott (who plays Natalie, Carmy and Michael’s sister and reluctant restaurant co-owner): With Natalie, she’s processing her grief and she’s about to become a mother. She’s pregnant and so she’s grappling with the fact that her brother had this horrible demise and her relationship with her mum [played by Jamie Lee Curtis] and her brother is not in a good place. She’s dealing with the grief in that way.

Edebiri: I feel like a lot of different characters have grief that touched them in different ways in how they’re dealing with it. That’s one of the connecting threads of the show, so it’s in the process of being dealt with by different characters in different ways in this season.

Moss-Bachrach: One of the strengths of the show and one of the reasons it’s connected with so many people is grief is the river that runs through all of us. And it’s maybe one of the only common things we all share in the human experience. So that continues, and everyone deals with it in their own way. Or not, you know?

Tina is also finding it difficult to rise to the challenge of the new restaurant.
Colón-Zayas: What’s up with Tina is she is struggling to be her best and wrestling with the demons of her past and, you know, white-knuckling.

One character who’s role has expanded across the series has been Neil Fak, a childhood friend of the family who began the show as the sandwich shop’s sometimes handyman, later becoming an integral figure among the staff.
Matheson: I think they saw that I could remember a couple more lines! And then Chris [Storer] kind of chucked me a couple lines, and then… I really don’t know. I think [I’m] happy to be here.

White: Chris was responding to Matty’s work on the show. Matty had never acted before the show, and it turns out he can do it so beautifully and he can be so funny and loveable. And so I think Chris wanted to work with him more and more. And I’ve never seen Chris be more joyful than when he’s directing a scene with Matty and throwing lines at him. It really is the most excited that I see Chris Storer.

Real-life chef and restaurateur Matty Matheson plays Neil Fak

Matheson, a chef and restaurateur, is also an executive producer on the series and part of the team involved in building the culinary creations seen on screen.
Matheson: Courtney Storer is also a producer and she handles a lot of the menu development. I work with her and her team on what Carmy and Syd would be thinking about and how to execute those types of dishes and create those types of menus, and who they are and how they would present themselves through a culinary lens.
We had some really good chefs, and Courtney is amazing at executing and creating that food and bringing that to life. There were some dishes that were more difficult than others. A lot of the desserts that Lionel and Marcus were creating and storytelling were difficult. Pastry is very – you know, it’s a lot of science, a lot of stuff was going into that. But overall, I think [we were] just trying to make beautiful food and thoughtful food and pushing the envelope.

Season three of The Bear marks the directing debut of Edebiri, who helms episode six, Napkins.
Edebiri: Directing was a blast. I really loved it. It’s like a dream to get to work with our crew as an actor. And so then, I guess by extension of directing, that feeling was only amplified. I was just so impressed and so moved every day. I got to direct some of my favourite actors in the world, and it just felt like a bit of a masterclass but also a gift. I was in the best circumstances of truly masters of their craft beside me, and I just felt so lucky. I was like, ‘This is maybe the best job in the world?’ Or tied for first place, at least, with the one of acting. It was really wonderful.

Napkins focuses on Liza Colón-Zayas’s character Tina, and Edebiri and Christopher Storer were on the same page about which episode Edebiri should helm.
Edebiri: We’re lucky enough to read all the episodes as actors beforehand, and we’d been talking about it for a while. I know that he had one in mind, and I think he and the other producers, like Joanna, had talked about it a bit, about how the episodes would be distributed. I wasn’t the only guest director this season. Our AD, Duccio Fabbri, also directed an episode. So they had in their minds who would go where a little bit. But then we had a conversation and he was like, ‘Which scripts are you responding to?’ And I was like, ‘I would literally give you my firstborn child, who does not exist yet, if I could do the Liza episode, because I would love to work with Liza in that way.’ And then he was like, ‘Well, we have nice little parallel thinking.’

Ebon Moss-Bachrach continues to earn rave reviews for his performance as Richie

Despite the tension building in the kitchen, the cast have no trouble shaking off the emotions after a day of filming.
White: The set is such a joyful place. Everybody does care for each other so much. Everybody does laugh so frequently that even if you have to go to a dark place in the morning, two hours later you’ll be hanging out and watching a scene and really laughing and enjoying the company. Even if I tried to take it home, I think it would be hard.

Edebiri: The show does have its moments, but it also has very light moments too, very beautiful moments, too. Take them with you.

Moss-Bachrach: Also, you find laughter in grief. This show has all of that, it overflows with all of these kinds of behaviours. And it also doesn’t behoove us to live in that heaviness, because it’s a very intense shoot. We were there for probably four months, and you can’t maintain that for the whole time. You’d run out of energy. So we have to protect it, leave it there, rest, and then come back and pick it back up.

In season three, Carmy sets a list of “non-negotiables” for how the restaurant should operate – and the cast have their own when it comes to working on the show.
Edebiri: Be nice to each other. Learn your lines.

White: Show up prepared. On time.

Elliott: Yeah, on time is a big one.

Edebiri: Stay hydrated.

Elliott: Take vitamin C.

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