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Every Real-Life Chef Playing Themselves


Light spoilers for “The Bear” season 3 follow (although no story details, we promise!). 

There’s a whole lot of interesting foodie knowledge in the hit FX and Hulu series “The Bear,” which follows the crew of a failing restaurant as they try to rescue it, start over, and then make the new place into the best damn restaurant Chicago has ever seen. In fact, by the end of season 2 they’ve even decided to try and earn a coveted Michelin star, leading audiences everywhere to research just how exactly Michelin stars even work. As head chef Carmen (Jeremy Allen White), sous chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), and the rest of the team have taken The Beef to The Bear through the first two seasons, they’ve given audiences the opportunity to learn a lot about not only cooking and restaurants but the culinary world. From pastry chef Marcus’ (Lionel Boyce) exquisite tutelage in desserts from a chef played by Will Poulter to just the basic lingo of working in food service, “The Bear” offers a veritable feast of kitchen knowledge.

It’s clear that the team behind “The Bear” have a lot of love for kitchens and the people who populate them, and in season 2 we got to see a number of fun cameos from famous chefs when Sydney travelled around Chicago to get a feel for the food scene. In season 3 (read our review here), now streaming on Hulu, there’s a whole new cast of chef cameos — here’s who they are, and why their inclusion rocks.

The chef cameos of The Bear season 3

It’s worth mentioning that there’s a real chef who shows up quite a bit in “The Bear,” though he’s not playing himself. Canadian chef Matty Matheson is a co-producer for the series and brings a lot of authenticity behind-the-scenes, but he also plays the restaurant’s handyman, Neil Fak. He is arguably the most important chef on “The Bear” for that reason, but in season 3, there are some pretty high-profile chefs starring as themselves that join his esteemed company. Possibly the most impressive is Thomas Keller, a chef and restaurateur whose French-style restaurants have seven Michelin stars between them. He’s also the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three-star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants, which is insanely impressive. He has a long history of sharing his skills and knowledge not only in the industry but in Hollywood as well, serving as a consultant for the films “Spanglish,”  and “Ratatouille.” 

In “The Bear” season 3, we see a flashback where Carmen is getting training from Keller. It shows the incredibly high level of skill and respect that Carmy reached as a chef before he returned to The Beef to take over. Now he’s trying to take what he’s learned and get back into that highly competitive world, but at least this time he has the whole Bear crew behind him. 

A whole gaggle of gastronomical gurus

Along with Keller, there’s also a whole group of amazing chefs that appear in the season finale (no spoilers, promise!). Some are more recent local legends in Chicago, like Genie Kwon, a pastry chef who is also co-runs the Michelin two-star restaurant Oriole in the city’s West Loop neighborhood, and her fellow pastry chef Anna Posey, who runs the prestigious restaurant Elske with her husband, David. 

There are also restaurateurs like Kevin Boehm, who co-owns 22 restaurants (including a few in Chicago) and has served several times as a judge on “Top Chef,” and Will Guidara, who co-owned a hospitality group with major establishments like the NoMad restaurants and wrote numerous cookbooks. Guidara is joined by his wife, Christina Tosi, herself a formidable culinary creator. She’s the creator of the Milk Bar bakery chain, has been a judge on “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Junior,” and “Chopped,” along with hosting Netflix’s “Bake Squad.”

Then there are the global superstars, like Alinea head chef Grant Achatz, who has been a “MasterChef” judge, and former noma pastry chef Malcolm Livingston II, who is sort of a real-life Carmy, rising from the Bronx to culinary stardom and then returning to his roots. There’s also Rosio Sanchez, who also worked at noma before opening a high-end street-style taco place in Copenhagen. And then there’s molecular gastronomy specialist Wylie Dufresne, who was the runner-up on “Iron Chef America”  and has been a “Top Chef” judge multiple times. “The Bear” has always had a great cast of fictional chefs, but it’s wonderful to see them give respect to the greats of the real world, and maybe it will inspire audiences to learn more!

“The Bear” season 3 is now streaming on Hulu. 

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