Monday, September 19, 2005

Review: Kitchen Confidential Is Tasty Fun

Jack Bourdain (Bradley Cooper) is a chef trying to put a drinking problem behind him in Kitchen Confidential. Trapped in a dead-end job in a family pasta restaurant, he gets a call out of the blue from restaurant-owner Pino (Frank Langella, who is scheduled to appear in two episodes). What he learns when he goes for the interview is so good, it's unbelievable: he has been tapped as head chef in the ritzy Nolita kitchen.

Of course, Pino's glamorous "assistant" Mimi (Bonnie Somerville) thinks he's a loser, and seems determined to catch him in a career-ending error. His current lover (his employer at the pasta kitchen) is furious because he's poached her dishwashers. He's hired the best kitchen staff he can find (including a master-thief sous chef)—by promising dental plans, work visas and reborn careers. And an ex-girlfriend food critic (Bitty Schram) is about to descend on his opening night.

Jitters doesn't begin to cover it. Bourdain is panicked. Then—disaster. His sous chef's fingertip gets chopped off, and lost somewhere in the kitchen. Guess whose plate it winds up on?

The characters are believable, particularly within the limitations of the half-hour format. The opening episode promises plenty of tasty fun, if the writers and cast can keep it together. Look for lots of double-entendre and slapstick with fish.

From the book by Anthony Bourdain, with nods to screenplay writers David Hemingson and Lesley Wake.

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