By Lou Pastina
“The Bear” is a series on the streaming network Hulu. There have been two seasons of the show, each consisting of about 10 episodes. The first season is extremely intense and the intensity is heightened by the storyline, the characters and the way the episodes are filmed. The second season is not as intense, but packed with emotional punch. The story is about a family in Chicago that owns an old-time Chicago sandwich shop downtown. The place was run by a brother who had mental health and addiction problems. His younger brother went off to become a world-class chef, and arrives back home to take over the shop after his brother passes. I won’t give away any of the real story line because it’s just too good. The show is about running a restaurant, but is really about family, friends, love, hurt, perseverance, dedication, loyalty, redemption, failure: in other words, the human condition.
There were times when the mermaid had to get up and walk away from the show because it was so intense. But she came back. The show can really hit close to home and it’s not for the faint of heart. I have known people like those in the show, and so I found myself rooting for them, because I know how hard it is to overcome the obstacles that life throws at us all. While in real life, things sometimes don’t always work out, I hoped that it would for these fictional characters that I longed to see succeed. I now find myself in the familiar situation of waiting for season three, hoping it will get here soon, so that I can visit with my dysfunctional, fictional friends. It’s much better than real life!
As I said above, it is nominally about running a restaurant and how hard it is to actually manage the everyday aspects of delivering food to people in a way that makes them feel good. The hospitality business is a very difficult one, especially if you have to be nice to customers who sometimes don’t deserve it. The sourcing of ingredients, the planning of the menu, the utter chaos of the kitchen during meal times, the idiosyncrasies of the staff are just truly overwhelming. We are lucky in Rockaway to now have so many choices to go out to dinner. A lot of locals either own or work in these restaurants, so they probably get what I am trying to say here—that basically it’s really hard to do. I am not sure how many of us consider what really goes into that meal that was set before us. Taking the order, getting the order to the kitchen, cooking it, and then delivering to the table is a process to be admired when done well. We are blessed with many restaurants here that actually do a great job.
“The Bear” is the nickname of the main character, the chef who came back to run the restaurant. He has all the characteristics of a bear – he is a bit grizzly, he is a loner, he loves his family, but he is hurt inside. But he can cook, and he knows how to run a kitchen, and provides hope for people around him even in the midst of complete craziness all around him. To me, that is a great metaphor for life. Life is truly crazy, and things are continually changing, but through the maze of madness, life provides moments of pure joy and redemption. And it’s in those moments that we realize how great it is to be alive and how great it is to be here now. And lastly, to wonder, how did this medium rare steak with creamed spinach and a baked potato get to my table so quickly! Watch “The Bear,” you might find out.