Fox Really Blew It with Kitchen Confidential

By Karen

I just watched all 13 episodes of Kitchen Confidential, the sitcom based on Anthony Bourdain’s book. What was Fox thinking to launch – and sink – that show in 2005 after airing only 4 episodes? It oozes untapped potential.

I ordered DVDs through Netflix, but you can watch it here online. It left me wanting more, much more.

Bradley Cooper played chef Jack Bourdain with Tony’s wild side and signature thumb ring, but minus the wife. In fact, he gets dumped by his girlfriend in the first episode, leaving him free to pursue ladies on both sides of the kitchen door in a manner that’s fantasy fodder for Tony’s fans – male and female alike.

The ensemble cast includes some standouts. Because they seem right from the pages of Bourdain’s book, my favorites are John Cho as Teddy Wong the fish guy, Owain Yeoman as Steven Daedelus the sous chef, and Frank Alvarez as Ramon the dishwasher.

If Fox had given the cast a chance to shake out and jell, they could have made a team to rival Cheers.

Frank Langella plays Pino, the owner of Nolita. The restaurant setting inspires plots as refreshing as sorbet. In addition to obligatory slapstick, like the fingertip that turns up in a customer’s meal, in one episode, Jack fights to serve sweetbreads. In another, they call “brunch” another word for hell, but go for it anyway. They rumble with a rival French restaurant that steals their menu.

Anthony Bourdain apparently had nothing to do with the scripts, but his sharp wit remained intact.

Fox ran only 3 episodes in a too-early time slot (8:30), obviously unaware that Bourdain fans would expect lots of spice. Then they yanked it for 2 months, aired one more episode, and killed it.

Big mistake.

If you love Kitchen Confidential the book, I think you’ll enjoy the series. I give it 2 (severed) thumbs up!


4 Responses to Fox Really Blew It with Kitchen Confidential

  1. As a fan of the book but having completely missed the show I would say FOX was the wrong venue for it. HBO or Showtime might have been a better choice considering the sex and drug use and general ‘violence’ of the kitchen…

  2. catsworking says:

    I agree 100%. I completely missed the show on TV myself, but the way Fox handled it, if you blinked, you missed it. Also, I hadn’t discovered Anthony Bourdain yet, so I might not have enjoyed the show as much out of context.

    I think HBO could do justice to the concept and all its racy implications, and I’d love to see someone else take a whack at it.

  3. Debi says:

    Hi there! I mean no offence, but I have to let you know what I thought about the Kitchen Confidential TV show. I really admire Tony Bourdain’s talent, intelligence, sex appeal, and usually snarky attitude, but good Lord- that was an awful TV show. I was embarrassed that it was on the air. I didn’t get the feeling that any of the real Mr. Bourdain’s smart-ass humor transferred to the small screen at all. And the story lines were ridiculous. It was like going to tacky old Las Vegas to see the Eiffel Tower.Wouldn’t you rather go to Paris for the real thing? I would rather watch Tony on No Reservations or read one of his books any day!! Thanks for listening to my rant…

  4. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Debi! I don’t know how long the TV series would have lasted if they hadn’t pulled the plug on it prematurely. I liked it and thought it had potential once the cast had time to gel together. But you’re right. I didn’t come close to the true personality of the book, mainly because the book wasn’t intended for prime-time family consumption. If they’d done it on HBO, it might have had a chance.

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