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Some of you readers have probably worked in a restaurant, but others have not. The ones that have, undeniably, have an elevated threshold for anxiety (and assholes). It’s a real IYKYK kind vibe. And the canon of culinary and restaurant series (and movies!) have proven one thing: Back of house is not a comfortable place to be.
Now more than ever, the culinary industry is booming. In-demand restaurants watch their reservation openings get booked in minutes as the culinarily curious book flights and vacations dedicated to the plates they will find on the table. If you’re interested in learning more, we can’t send you to culinary school. Here’s what we can do. Read on for the 13 best movies and shows about the restaurant industry.
This FX hit returns for its sophomore season this month fresh off of a successful awards season run. The Bear stars Jeremy Allen White as a talented chef trained in Michelin-star dining who returns to his hometown of Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop after his brother commits suicide. This show, which amassed a huge following of fervent fans in its first season, features the perfect spice blend of comedy and drama, plus a pretty comprehensive education in restaurant culture.
The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be Lisa. Beyond being the source of the latest pop culture drama, Vanderpump Rules is a reality show about the Los Angeles restaurant industry, specifically the WeHo culinary empire created by former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Vanderpump. The show’s cast, beyond being cheaters and alcoholics, are the bartenders and servers of L.A.’s busiest restaurants, although they still manage to make time to argue by the dumpsters.
Don’t scroll, it’s a restaurant show. This animated comedy follows the Belcher family and their burger restaurant. The series animates many parts of the culinary experience from health inspectors, to competing neighbor restaurants, and childhood trauma—the driving force behind many of the world’s best chefs. Julia Child, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Bob Belcher.
Okay, this is technically a movie, but it’s essential because of the next show on our list. This 2014 film comes from the mind of Jon Favreau, who wrote, directed, produced, and starred. Favreau plays a chef who loses his job at a popular L.A. restaurant after feuding with a critic. Left unemployed and boundless, he buys a food truck and enlists his young, somewhat estranged son to help with the business. The film has been applauded by the culinary community for its dedication to the form. Legendary food truck owner and chef Roy Choi coproduced and had a heavy hand in the food preparation in the film.
The Chef Show
A reality spin-off of the Jon Favreau film Chef, The Chef Show stars Favreau and Roy Choi as they interview guests, chatting and cooking with the likes of Bill Burr, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland, David Chang, Seth Rogen, and more.
This documentary series focuses on internationally acclaimed chefs, their careers in the kitchen and their lives off the clock. Each chef owns their own episode, with highlights including Sweden’s Magnus Nilsson, Japan’s Yoshihiro Imai, and more.
One of Gordon Ramsay’s multiple vehicles for televised anger, Kitchen Nightmares sees the famously volatile chef visit failing restaurants around the world to help save their business.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
This reality travel show follows Anthony Bourdain across the world in search of unique cultures and cuisine. In the series’ more than 140 episodes, Bourdain explores the restaurant culture of places like Vietnam, Malaysia, and New Jersey.
This two-season series stars Yellowjackets’ Ella Purnell as a young woman who moves to New York City and beings working at a swanky city restaurant. In addition to the high-stress of the restaurant industry, she must adapt to a new world of drugs, love, and everything in between.
If this 2005 sitcom flew under your radar, allow us to introduce you. Kitchen Confidential stars Bradley Cooper as Jack Bourdain, a recovering addict who gets the chance to run the kitchen of a top restaurant in Nolita, based on the career of Anthony Bourdain and his bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The show only ran for one season, totaling 13 episodes.
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