'The Bear's Jeremy Allen White Recalls Struggling at Culinary School: 'A Rude Awakening' (Exclusive)

The best way to an audience's heart is through their stomach.

Released early in the summer of 2022, Hulu's The Bear introduced itself to fans by way of their stomachs. Set in Chicago, the dark comedy series told the story of fine dining chef Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White), who returns home save his family's failing sandwich shop, The Beef, in the wake of his brother's death.

The cast made headlines for their career-defining performances -- White won Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for his performance last week -- and the crew is still answering questions about the technical force it took to pull off their 18-minute-long take in episode seven. Still, the food always remained the star of the show. 

This was not an accident. From the beginning, The Bear's team was resolute in their understanding that a show about restaurants must, first and foremost, respect the craft.  

White began his preparation by going to culinary school in Pasadena, California. Co-star Ayo Edibiri joined him, and Lionel Boyce, who plays The Beef's baker-turned-pastry chef, trained at Copenhagen's Hart Bageri. The actors also spent time shadowing the kitchens of restaurants prior to arriving on set. 

"It was like a rude awakening the first couple days at culinary school," White told ET of his training. 

The experience opened his eyes to the magic of any institution that serves food, "I just started looking at every restaurant at any level, whether it's a sandwich shop, pizza place, Michelin star place, they're all miracles. It's just so difficult to open and keep open." 

The actors' on-screen success proved to come less from their kitchen accomplishments and more from their failures, which also helped the cast bond (and, at times, laugh). 

This week, White recalled once receiving a photo from Boyce in Copenhagen. "He was learning how to make donuts and I was like, 'Lionel, this is beautiful,'" White said, "It's these gorgeous chocolate donuts that are this deep brown and he's like, 'I left these in the fryer for ten minutes and I completely forgot about them,' and they were not chocolate at all." 

Though Boyce may have been out a batch of donuts, experiences like these continued to inform the cast even outside work. 

Edibiri finished her training with "so much respect and awe," she told ET. "It's such a tough industry and so physically and mentally taxing, I think everybody should tip their servers 20 percent minimum." 

That toughness translates on screen because of The Bear's commitment to reality on camera, too. "We used real food. We had everything hooked up in the kitchen for heat, fire, for those little environmental things that make a difference as a cook," Courtney Storer, culinary producer for The Bear, told ET. 

Abby Elliott, who stars as Carmy's younger sister Natalie, remembers real food with particular nostalgia. 

"In season one, I make the chicken piccata in my scene, and Courtney Storer actually made it," Elliot told ET. "It was the best thing I've ever eaten."

Now expecting her second child, Elliott added that the dish's memory has become a pregnancy craving. "I have been trying so hard to recreate it," she said. "I've tried like three times over the past couple months."

She's yet to get it just right, but there's still time -- season 2 of The Bear will premiere in 2023 on Hulu.