On HBO: A Chef's Drama

I’d like to see a groundbreaking television series that deals with the foodservice industry. I call it a Chef’s Drama, but of course it would have many comical elements. I would make it in the Soprano-HBO style, as in every episode is it’s own little story but the overall story continues. It would also emulate the Sopranos in that some plot lines, minor and major, would be well conceived, the writers obviously having been well consulted by those having worked in the culinary and hospitality venues.

The show would have to be on cable because to be true to life and enhanced the vulgarity that takes place in most kitchens would have to be highlighted. Cooks make Bob Saget’s Aristocrats rant look like a Bob Hope Christmas Special.

My Chef’s Drama would take place on a resort based on one that I worked on in Captiva, Florida. The resort would have employee housing and all manner of folks would live there. There would be culinary and hospitality interns and laborers from the states and other places like Jamaica, South Korea, Haiti, Turkey, ect. Some people are there to advance their education, some to make money to send home to their families, and some to hide from real life.

The thing about employee housing is that you will always have a new pool of characters to pull from. The Other Others, if you will.

I would also use the other small restaurants and hotels on the island, and the people who work there in plots. There’d probably a local bar that the resort employees go to, like Rosie’s on MASH.

I would have it that you can only get there by boat, but that some characters travel everyday to work from the mainland. There is a feeling of isolation, but anybody can leave anytime they like.

I would start the first episode with the arrival of some new culinary interns, and how freaked out they are by the goings on in employee housing, never mind when their big dreams are crushed upon when finding themselves working for some crazy (but not over the top) chefs. The viewers would take the ride along with these interns in discovering the madness that takes place behind the scenes, and that the reality of the culinary world doesn’t always mesh with the glamorous ideals these interns may hold dear.

The big twist I would have in my show is that every show subtlety plays homage to another successful popular show. The only hint I would give would be in the show’s title. It would then become apparent to people after awhile what is going on. I wouldn’t advertise this fact and let the viewer figure it out for themselves. After it becomes quite apparent, then I would then up the subtlety.

For example, in the ‘ER Episode’ there would be a hurricane and the resort, in having its own generator, would become the only restaurant operating on the island. Business is just nuts, all kinds of corners cut, stuff going back and forth in the background like crazy, and other restaurants start to bring their food over before it spoils. I see a chef with gloves on, bloody from meat he was just cutting, watching a cart of new food coming in: “Ok, what do we got?”

Other various premises and episodes include:

The person in charge of Receiving has a constant battle with a Rat. The Rat becomes a character. Later there is a ‘Though the Eyes of The Rat’ episode, where in the whole episode is told from the Rat’s perspective. By the end of the season the warring between the Receiving guy and the Rat quiets some. During the end of season montage you would see the Rat sitting on the Receivers desk, with the Receiver only noticing it when the Rat makes a move for his potato chips.

I would have a Dishwasher from Romania who pretends to have very bad English and plays dumb but is actually is a former almost celebrity chef from Europe. During the season stuff is always being ‘saved’ (stopped from burning, ect). Nobody catches on that it might be the Romanian (except maybe the viewer).

There would be a running gag about Staff Meal. There will be a riot in employee housing over the lack of quality of the Staff Meal at one point (that would be the OZ episode). If the series was successful, there would be an animated version one day, with the food being put into the Staff Meal box the stars of that episode. Sort of like the Misfits in Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer. The highlight of that episode would be when some food that was put in the Staff Box gets taken back out to be used for the general public.

I would drop hints all season about the various ways you could be hurt in a kitchen. In the final episode of the season I would have Jackie Chan show up and kick the crap out of some people with all the kitchen equipment.
There would actually be a lot of chances for celebrity cameos. An episode where Rachael Ray is stopping by could be Big Nightish in it hilarity, for example.

The ‘Frank Burns’ character would have to be the Dining Room Manager. Trust me on this. One of his great ideas is to make his servers go ‘Wa-La!’ when they take the covers off the plates. By the end of that situation we see a server quickly taking off a tables covers going ‘wa-la, wa-la, wa-la, wa-la…is there anything else I can get you?’

The opportunities are endless, and in the right hands, this ‘Chef’s Drama’ could be a great idea.

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