There are a few types of Chicagoans who watched The Bear, the FX series streaming on Hulu based centered around a local Italian beef restaurant. There’s those who’ve worked in the service industry who related to the back-of-the-house drama and intensity, the ones who related to the “yes, chef” culture portrayed on the show.
Then there’s the sect of Chicagoans who demanded to see the writers’ credentials (creator Christopher Storer grew up in suburban Park Ridge), picking apart accents, geography, and whether it makes sense for a small beef stand to have a sous chef. Or if a mafioso uncle named “Cicero” hits too on-the-nose. There’s no Betty Loren-Maltese reference... yet.
That scrutiny is destined to continue as on Thursday, July 14, FX greenlit another season of The Bear. The network didn’t share a release date, but Season 2 should drop sometime next year. Expect to hear more in the coming weeks.
Mr. Beef, a stand that opened in 1963 in River North, serves as inspiration for the show with tons of exterior shots, with the hijinks happening inside the fictional Original Beef of Chicagoland. Star Jeremy Allen White was in town in May for the James Beard Awards to publicize the show. White plays chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a local boy whose culinary skill took him to restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park in New York and Noma in Copenhagen (“the best restaurant in the world, according to Eater,” says The Bear’s Pete, played by the Chicago Party Aunt himself, Chris Witaske).
The Italian beef is a simple sandwich — an immigrant invention that dates back to the early 1900s. The legend was that Italian Americans developed the cooking method as a cost-effective way to make a not-so-tender-cut of meat able to feed large groups. Chicago has tried fine dining versions of the sandwich, using prime cuts or other fancy ingredients. While twists on the sandwich, say Kasama’s Filipino Adobo pork version, are welcomed, the upscale sandwiches have been flops.
So having a chef with Michelin-star experience helming the kitchen at a beef stand is a giant suspension of disbelief for many Chicagoans. The writers took care of that at the end of season too. Fans have many questions including the deal with those cans.