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Shining Those Forks

Although about a restaurant, 'The Bear' celebrates the same qualities that custom installation pros exhibit.

This editor’s letter is going to focus on season 2, episode 7 of Hulu’s The Bear. Although I do not plan to traffic in spoilers, I respect you all — and the show — too much to ruin the experience even potentially, so if you have not yet seen it, stop reading here. (But please ease my insecurities and promise you will come back and read this once you have seen the ep.)

Everyone left has seen it or doesn’t care, right? Okay, let’s roll…

The main focus of this episode is Richie, a.k.a., Cousin, as he works for a week as a “stagiaire” — essentially an unpaid intern — at Ever, which I recently learned is a real Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago, where the show takes place. There, Richie gets up before 5:30 AM to clean forks while wearing a suit and gets a front-row seat to how the entire team — front of house and back of house — work to make sure that every customer’s experience is special, unique, and amazing.

Photo by Chris Rutter, Digital Camera Magazine

It is that attention to quality and superior service that made me think of custom installers. Part of what I love most about The Bear is the inside look at another industry and the quirks and idiosyncrasies it has. I have said this in this space before, but I think a reality show about luxury custom installers, the challenges they face, and the jaw-dropping installs they do would be a slam dunk. And we all know a few installers who are made-for-TV. It may even be you…

Back to the fictional Ever and its quest for quality, which probably goes too far to work in real life. For one, they stalk the social feeds of people who have made reservations with the idea of making their wishes come true. In the episode, the boss comps the meal of a customer who posted on Instagram that she had saved for a year to eat there. “Eavesdropping for good” is also encouraged, where they listen to the guests as they eat and make changes to accommodate whatever they need.

While these invasions of privacy are played off as creating unforgettable moments, I am not sure people in real life would be comfortable going to a place that is doing active surveillance on them. Can you imagine getting caught going through your clients’ belongings, and then explaining you were doing it to serve them better?

As for Richie and the forks, they are shown each day to mark his progress, and, honestly, the early ones of him barely cleaning them and tossing them haphazardly into a case with a teeth-stinging clink are tough to watch for anyone who likes organization or has managed people who just don’t care. It is a reminder that it is only forks — and it is also important. I am sure many of you cringe when you see tools left askew or parts tossed in disarray.

Ultimately, the episode is a celebration of superior service and the team that works together to make it all happen. In this case, it was fiction, but those concepts come to life each day in custom installation.

So where is our prestige television show?!