About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

“The Bear”–Good Food Wasted

Like millions of others, I’m watching Season 3 of “The Bear,” Hulu’s popular series about how a chef turns a sandwich shop into a the show’s eponymous fine-dining restaurant. Also, like many other people, I find myself cringing periodically.

“The Bear’s” Cringe-y Moments

The Bear, Hulu, FX, Carmie, Richie

Camie and Richie in the walk-in cooler

Oh, I’m not reacting to Carmy and Richie firing multiple F-bombs at the top of their voices. Women get accustomed to grown men acting like sixth-grade boys on the playground. Also we know too many men who are unable to control their emotions to find their verbal battles more than annoying.

And I don’t really respond to Jamie Lee Curtis’s brilliant depiction of the family’s alcoholic, abusive and inappropriate mother, Donna Berzatto, although I find that one more difficult to handle.

No, I cringe whenever I see Carmy tipping yet another test-kitchen plate of good food into the garbage. Watching those portions of Wagyu beef, lamb loin, diver scallops and other expensive ingredients go to waste sets my teeth on edge.

Wasted Food / Wasted Money

Chef Carmie, The Bear, Hulu, FX, restaurant

Chef Carmie cooking

Why would the restaurant’s owner, Carmen Berzatto, do this? That discarded food means wasted money. But the chef searches for perfection and that means anything not perfect goes into the trash.

Here in the real world, we understand that nothing and no one is perfect. That makes any search for perfection frustrating and wasteful, not to mention expensive. Did I mention that Carmy’s Uncle Jimmy, who is bankrolling the restaurant, demands better cost control?

My Solutions to Imperfection

As I watch the show, I think of things I would do with those luxury proteins instead of tossing them.

  1. The Bear, The Original Beef of Chicagoland, Chicago Italian beef sandwiches, Hulu, FXIn a throwback to its origins, The Bear has reinstated a pickup window where the restaurant’s fans can pick up its signature Chicago beef sandwiches. This popular lunch option actually brings in money that helps keep the restaurant afloat.
    I would hand those plates of protein to the guys running that window and use them to create a new offering. It would change depending on what food Carmy is testing on any given day. The special would also be more expensive than anything on the standard menu. Snagging one of those specials would become a status symbol: “I got the Wagyu sandwich at The Bear today. It was awesome.”
  2. Repurpose the proteins to create the restaurant’s family meal for the staff. Rice pilaf with diced lamb loin, sliced scallops or Wagyu beef would make a great casual, if imperfect, meal.
  3. Put them in take-out containers and bring them to a homeless shelter or just hand them to homeless people on the street. They might never come to eat at The Bear but they would sure appreciate the good food.
  4. Compost the scraps. The food would still go to waste but at least something would come from it.

Honor the Sacrifice

Anything, anything would be better than throwing out good food. Animals died to provide that protein and throwing it out insults their sacrifice. Plus, the chef’s egregious waste of valuable food sets a bad example for other restaurants.

Carmy’s rejection of anything that’s not good enough also adds to the growing problem of food waste in America. As a business, The Bear must pay for waste management. Why add to waste collection costs by throwing out more than necessary?

“The Bear’s”  Waste Management Options

Plus, Carmy has options. Sure, they take a little more effort than just scraping a plate into a bin but think of the example he could set by doing a little research on how to share it or compost it. Here are a few places:

A quick Google search didn’t turn up any food recovery and distribution service like Boston’s Lovin Spoonfuls but I’ll bet there is one.

Learning to Change

The Bear, Hulu, FX, Chicago restaurant, logoiThere, I got my cringe-y reaction off my chest. Maybe Hulu and writer Christopher Storer will consider a different approach in Season 4. After all, if Richie can stop being distracting and annoying, Carmie can cut back on wasting good food.