If you've ever worked in hospitality, you'll know the stereotypes around the head chef tend to ring true. The nature of the job is incredibly stressful, frustrating and anxiety-inducing. This, in turn, means the person who does the job can often be stressed, highly strung and straight-up angry while on the clock.
It doesn't sound very appealing from the outset. But since Jeremy Allen White's performance as Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto in the 2022 hit series, The Bear, he and his character have had the world in a metaphorical chokehold. It seems, there's something inherently sexy about "the chef". While Pedro Pascal perfectly encapsulates the essence of "daddy", White encapsulates the sexy chef thing, and it seems that the chef is slowly overtaking daddy as the latest mainstream kink.
In a recent Actors On Actors episode, Jennifer Coolidge sat down with White to chat all things acting and The Bear. The iconic actress was quick to bring up the "yes, chef" phenomenon that's taken over the globe, but also the growing sex appeal of the chef. "99% of my jobs were all restaurant jobs, and I always fell in love with the angry chefs," Coolidge tells White. "There's something about, like, a man that can do something fast, and I felt inferior," she goes on.
White laughs and says, "There's a control thing that happens...in the kitchen as a chef". Coolidge confirms that witnessing even one moment of that kind of tension and energy, she'd be head over heels.
Turns out, she's not the only one. It seems that a lot of people who have watched The Bear now have a thing for an angry, sad man with tattoos who can cook. And it's not just The Bear. When you look back, from fiction (for example, Bradley Cooper in Burnt) to real life (Marco Pierre White), people have found chefs sexy for decades.
Looking at it objectively, we totally get it. A commercial kitchen is a high-pressure, fast-paced environment, and something about the pace and urgency can start to feel pretty sexual. As for the chef themselves, there's the hypermasculinity and authority they have in their space — and their passion for their profession and creative craft can definitely be a turn-on. But beyond superficial attraction, what is this kink about, really?
What the chef kink and the daddy kink seem to have in common is that they centre around a powerful, authoritative man who we'd happily submit to sexually. The chef kink, however, takes daddy a step further, leaning towards a more aggressive, hard-edged and masculine energy, whilst still letting some of that original daddy energy shine through.
For those who enjoy power plays, sexual tension in the workplace and a more fiery (and slightly troubled), bad boy male persona, it makes sense that the chef thing is appealing to their sexual fantasies so much. Plus, the guy can cook, which in stark contrast to their anger-fuelled outbursts, suggests an "I can take care of you" energy that we also get with the daddy kink. And who doesn't love a man who knows their way around a kitchen?
Who are we to condemn the cultivation of sexual power-play kinks within a safe digital environment?
For viewers of a fictional TV show or movie, though, it's easier to sexualise the chaos that comes with having some sort of relationship with a stressed-out chef. But for people who work or have worked in hospitality, this kind of behaviour in real life can feel pretty toxic. The power dynamics, especially between chefs and their staff, can certainly feel a bit kinky if you're into the dom/sub thing, but it can also lead to trouble in reality.
Of course, we won't boil a person down just to the nature of their profession and their worst moments. And as long as the chef era continues to harmlessly arouse and excite The Bear viewers, who are we to condemn the cultivation of sexual power-play kinks within a safe digital environment?
White's character in The Bear doesn't seem all that preoccupied with romance, so we probably won't see the chef kink come to life quite so literally in Season 2 of the show. But we're sure to keep hearing resounding cries of "yes, chef" from everyone coming into their chef era as the series continues.