‘The Lineup’ Dinner Series Tells the Stories of Michelin-Starred Line Cooks for a Real-Life Take on ‘The Bear’

Ever wondered what “The Bear” would be like in real life?

IndieWire can exclusively unveil the first look at Season 2 of The Lineup, a dinner series that captures the behind-the-scenes tenacity of leading a Michelin-starred restaurant. With the Chef Stories videos, The Lineup features the often-overlooked heroes of the dining experience: line cooks. For those more familiar with “The Bear” than a real kitchen, that’s just about the Tina or Marcus equivalent.

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Season 2 kicks off with Don Angie’s Chef Drew Johnson. The celebrity hotspot is backed by Johnson’s dedication to his craft, even with the personal risks he had to take. Graham Burns serves as the content director who helmed the below video.

Meanwhile, The Lineup dinners have announced its participating Season 4 chefs, with Nelson Infante of Shukette, Joe Mardaus of 63 Clinton, and Skylar Mosca of Sailor participating. The dinners are on July 15, July 22, and August 5, respectively, with each taking place at the Food52 offices in Brooklyn Navy Yard. The dinners include a curated five course menu and wine pairing, with each featured line cook presenting their carefully crafted menu, reflecting their personal journey and culinary influences, and engaging with diners throughout.

“Today” show culinary contributor Elena Besser founded the series in 2020 after being part of the opening team at Lilia Restaurant in Brooklyn. Her subsequent cookbook, “On The Line,” contains recipes from 30 cooks around the country and 100 percent of the proceeds went back to the participating cooks and restaurant-relief funds amid the COVID pandemic.

“We decided to document each chef because each has a unique story to tell,” Jackson Cook, the creative director of The Lineup, told IndieWire of the Chef Stories video series. “People end up cooking or working in restaurants for various reasons, and no two stories are the same. You encounter individuals from all walks of life, and it’s one of the few places where skill is the primary driver of success. Someone from an upper-middle-class background with a culinary school degree from a top program might work alongside an ex-con on a path to sobriety. The one who moves up is the one who truly puts in the work.”

Cook, whose last name aptly describes his own culinary passion, continued ,”We also noticed that many shows document chefs after they have made it. While they might have interesting backgrounds, they are at a stage where they own several restaurants or have an expensive, often unrelatable, approach to cooking. We want to showcase those who are still in the midst of their journey — people who might not even realize they deserve a platform like this and who don’t know what will come next. We aim to challenge the narrative that the culinary industry is a grueling, soul-crushing place full of bullies and difficult personalities. We want to showcase this to encourage the rest of the industry to adopt supportive workplace practices and to show those considering a career in kitchens that there are positive environments out there.”

The Chef Stories video also makes the dinner series more accessible on an economic and global scale.

“From a practical standpoint, not everyone can attend these dinners. We want people from all over the country (and the world, hopefully) to be able to tune in, see what our next chef is creating, find commonality in their narrative, and be inspired,” Cook said. “And lastly, we want to send our chefs off with something they can show to prove what they did with us. It can be hard to encapsulate something like a fully customized pop0up dinner in any way other than video. Providing this to the chefs gives them something that they can almost use as a portfolio piece to show their vision in a clear and concise way, and it can give them a leg up for whatever they want to do next.”

Check out the exclusive Chef Stories video below featuring Don Angie’s Chef Drew Johnson. Tickets for Season 4 are available here starting June 20.

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