Why Matty Matheson Thinks The Bear Is An Accurate Portrayal Of Restaurant Stress

FX's "The Bear" was one of the biggest TV hits of the summer, earning raving reviews from critics at Rolling Stone and The New York Times, as well as general audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. The show, which follows a young superstar chef who returns home to Chicago to run his family's Italian beef sandwich shop, evidently struck a chord in the food & beverage community. 

From the sound of things, the show's vivid depictions of the fervent, chaotic, and traumatic realities of working in a restaurant are ringing true to many. Bon Appetit interviewed current and former restaurant workers after watching "The Bear," who all agreed that the show did such a good job of portraying the toxic environment that it was hard to watch. 

Of course, this wasn't by accident. According to the LA Times, the show hired culinary experts to craft a narrative that tells the ugly side of the restaurant industry that is often glamorized in the media. The show's experts from the real world of the food business include internationally recognized chef and cookbook author Matty Matheson, who also co-produced and acted in the series.

Mashed recently attended Behind the Scenes of FX's "The Bear" Event at the New York Times Food Festival. Hosted by Assistant Managing Editor Sam Sifton, the event brought together a number of cast and crew members to talk about the production of the first season of the series. Unsurprisingly, the panel members touched on the realities of the food industry.

Matty Matheson describes kitchen stresses

During the panel, "The Bear" producer Matty Matheson explained that the high energy and high stakes of cooking in a restaurant only intensify as customers show up and wait in line. "It's all very stressful," Matheson said. "It's a double-edged sword at all times it seems." Evidently, the "Kitchen Nightmare" scene in "The Bear" Episode 7 is just one example in the show that depicts the intensity and stress of a service gone wrong.

Sam Sifton followed with a question, "Does that stress seem exciting or like a trivial thing, but you did it and then you celebrate?" Matheson replied, "I think moving and cooking and doing everything is a very high-level energy kind of thing, and you're getting revved up all day. Adrenaline's going and then the rush of service and then the outcome of cleaning."

Matheson also took the time to talk about the pressure to "continuously prevail," something that is touched on in the show in the scene where Carmy instructs Marcus to clean the kitchen with a toothbrush. When Marcus asks why, Carmy replies, "It's about consistency. We can't operate at a higher level without consistency."

Reflecting on the real-life stresses of the industry that inspired the scene, Matheson didn't hold back. "It's just so difficult at times, you know? And I think that the stresses of anything, doing something and getting ready to execute on a high level there's nowhere to hide," Matheson said. "People are at the door, they want to sit down, they want to eat, they're judging you. There's a lot [of] judging. The chef is judging, the dishwasher's judging. You're getting pushed around a lot."