Take a look behind those chaotic kitchen scenes on ‘The Bear’

Courtney Storer makes pasta in her personal kitchen.
“What’s unique about ‘The Bear’ is that the food feels like a character in and of itself,” says the show’s culinary producer Courtney Storer.
(Amy Harrity / For The Times)

Talk about the fast and the furious. One of the many great qualities of FX’s breakout hit “The Bear,” is that it throws the viewer into the show’s chaotic restaurant setting without pausing for exposition. The series’ prickly realism undoubtedly played a large part in its earning 13 Emmy nominations. But now, on the heels of its second season, we can back up and dig into some of that technical jargon and kitchen behavior so often on display. And who better to answer those questions than Courtney Storer, the show’s culinary producer?

A longtime chef, Storer happens to be the sister of “The Bear” creator Christopher Storer, so naturally, he turned to her early on to get things right. Courtney Storer’s role is to liaise with every department, from teaching actors how to cook to giving the writers her journals. “It’s anything from menu development to character development,” she says, speaking via video chat from her home in Los Angeles in an interview that was in the works in the days prior to the actors’ strike. “What’s unique about “The Bear” is that the food feels like a character in and of itself, because it’s reflecting on all these people and their journeys.”


As she generously explains terms and events from the Season 2 finale, she hints at what’s to come in Season 3.

Courtney Storer's job includes teaching actors like Jeremy Allen White how to cook.
(Chuck Hodes / FX)

First, some lingo. What does “All day” mean?

How many things you have that are due on your ticket board, per item. In a tasting menu, if Sydney (played by Ayo Edebiri said, “I need one steak followed by another steak, another just walked in,” that means you have three steaks all day. It’s a summary to the cooks so that they can make sure they have three steaks that are being grilled and ready to plate.

And “Four by four by four”?


That means four dishes of each thing, followed by another four, followed by another four. As a line cook, you’re not looking at the board, you’re counting on your chef to pace and tell you what you need to cook for the dining room. So if the chef says, “I need four bucatini by four bucatini by four bucatini,” that means I’m going to plate four, pass them up, then I’m going to plate another four, pass them up, then I’m going to go do another four, pass them up. Which means how many all day?

12 all day!

Exactly! So the cook knows, “I need to be working 12, but the chef doesn’t want 12 at once.”

Joanna Calo signed on to consult on the hit FX and it turned into the best gig ever. Well, maybe second best.

June 7, 2023

What did it mean when Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) yelled at Sydney that the fish was dead?

He’s telling Sydney she’s not expo-ing [expediting] it fast enough, so it’s getting cold. That throws the line cooks behind even more, because now they have to remake stuff. Anytime you have to replate and refire, it complicates things.


Courtney Storer and actor Lionel Boyce working on dishes for "The Bear."
Actor Lionel Boyce watches closely as Courtney Storer tops off a dessert.
(Chuck Hodes / FX)

When you say “refire,” you’re not reheating something, right?

You’re starting all over from scratch.

Why is Sydney, the chef de cuisine, running the expo station? Shouldn’t she be cooking?

The person calling the tickets has to be the most informed. That’s why, when the kitchen is in the weeds — which means they’re falling behind — you see her step onto the line to help, and Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) comes and expos.

How could the whole kitchen not need anything in the walk-in all that time that Carmen was trapped inside due to a broken door handle?


That’s normal. You should be prepared, in that level of kitchen, to not be running back and forth to the walk-in. As a chef, that used to drive me nuts, because it means chefs are not preparing before service. So when Carmy goes in and gets stuck, it’s an example that you shouldn’t be going to the walk-in during service, in a big way.

So why did Carmy go in?

He needed to get grated parmesan. One of the cooks ran out.

A close-up portrait of Courtney Storer
Courtney Storer hopes “The Bear” helps restaurant patrons understand the difficulties the chef and staff are facing.
(Amy Harrity / For The Times)

Shouldn’t the inside handle work?

It should all work! But that was the thing, it hadn’t been working all season. It happens in restaurants because you get so distracted, and your attention span can feel like a hummingbird sometimes.


Was the ticket machine broken at the end, when it was making noise with no tickets coming out, or was Sydney just losing her mind?

She was losing her mind, and that happens.

You know how “The Great British Baking Show” made everyone aware of under-proofing and soggy bottoms, even if they can’t bake? Do you think “The Bear” will lead people to expect perfection at restaurants?

I actually hope it’s the opposite. Not that they have a bad perception of restaurants, but that they understand chefs a little bit more, and the hard work that back of house goes through, front of house goes through, hospitality goes through. I don’t know from the service aspect, I just hope people open their minds to seeing how hard people work to make hospitality come to life, that it takes a real village.

That’s interesting, because the front of house people seem invisible.

For now. You never know.

On opening night, none of the friends and family paid for anything, even though the restaurant is already deep in debt. That’s thousands of dollars. Isn’t that insane, or is that what everyone does?


Maybe you’re going to see what happens when you make decisions like that. I’ve been in restaurants where we do friends and family, and afterwards we’re like, ‘We just lost so much money, why didn’t we charge?’ That’s a conversation. Are they handling all of this the right way? I don’t know, you’ll have to see.

[As a dog walks into view] This is Bear.

Wait a minute. Is the show named after your dog?

I don’t know, you gotta ask Chris. We’ve never had that conversation, so I just leave it.