Yes, Chef! 4 Lessons From “The Bear” on Running a Successful EHS Program

Yes, Chef! 4 Lessons From “The Bear” on Running a Successful EHS Program

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / June 26, 2024 / Antea Group

“It would be weird to work in a restaurant and not completely lose your mind.” – Sydney Adamu, Season 1 of The Bear

Our team at Antea Group is very excited about the return of The Bear for its third season on FX and Hulu, launching June 27th. The show portrays a chaotic kitchen environment and the staff members who keep it running, led by protagonist Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto.

The high-stress scenarios that play out on the show offer some valuable lessons from a workplace health and safety perspective, making this a great vehicle for exploring some more broadly applicable EHS examples and opportunities from Carmy and the gang.

(If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of The Bear, beware: mild spoilers may lie ahead.)

Leadership sets the tone

When Carmy returns home from his foray into the world of fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants, he inherits a bit of a mess. He takes over the family sandwich shop, The Original Beef of Chicagoland, following the death of his brother. “The Beef” is not in a great place; in one of the first episodes, a health inspector flags numerous safety and sanitation issues, giving the restaurant a “C” rating.

Fortunately, Carmy’s experience working in world-class settings provides him with a unique perspective and expertise. Over the course of time, he gradually oversees an upgrade of the facilities and operations to a more acceptable state.

  • Food for thought: EHS leaders are specially trained to recognize health and safety risks, and how to mitigate them. Showcase your skills and knowledge to help impart them upon others in the workplace who may lack this expertise.

Foster a culture of clear and respectful communication

The kitchen at The Beef (and later The Bear) is full of colorful and complex characters, each with their own personalities and challenges. It would be a stretch to say this staff consistently embodies the principles of “clear and respectful communication,” often devolving into profanity and insults during tumultuous moments, but the fast-moving and hectic pace of their workplace certainly exemplifies why these principles matter.

One staple of interpersonal communication on the show that we do love is the “Yes chef!” rallying cry – a quick and assertive confirmation (often from an entire group in unison) that what’s been said by another was heard and appreciated.

  • Food for thought: Communication that takes place under duress, or in high-intensity situations, can easily become unproductive in the heat of the moment. This is a great focal point in working with your team. Being aware of your tone and language in sensitive situations is one key communication tip we advise for EHS professionals.

Train your team and develop their skills

Effective skills training is essential for a successful EHS program. Helping everyone on the team understand the core priorities of health and safety, and how each individual can play a role, will hold the key to a vigilant and prepared workplace.

Training and skills development can take many forms, from online courses to technology-driven tools like VR/AR to immersive hands-on training directly from experts. One cool example of mentorship, from The Bear, comes in the second season when Carmy sends his passionate bread baker-turned-pastry chef Marcus to Copenhagen to train under a highly skilled chef named Luca. Through this experience, Marcus is able to significantly elevate his level of knowledge and ability in an area that was somewhat foreign to him.

  • Food for thought: Provide members of your team across various roles with flexible training and development options. You’ll find plenty of insights and ideas in our EHS training camp post.

The importance of mental health awareness

The vivid depictions of mental health struggles are part of what make The Bear such an engrossing TV show – and also what can sometimes make it very difficult to watch. Psychology Today has praised its “brilliant psychological rawness,” noting the authenticity and depth in its exploration of human emotion, and the impacts of trauma.

The big lesson from all the loss, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and turmoil displayed in the show: everyone’s going through something. From the outside – without the benefit of illuminating flashback episodes – we never know what others are dealing with, or battling. Carmy’s journey illustrates that separating one’s work from personal mental health issues is all but impossible.

That’s why at Antea Group, we firmly believe that mental health is a crucial component of overall health as it pertains to Environment, Health, and Safety. Strive for an environment that promotes empathy, understanding, and support.

  • Food for thought: Encourage employees to speak up if they’re struggling or experiencing burnout, and provide resources to help them navigate these challenges. EHS mental health programs can serve this purpose brilliantly.

As Syd quipped in the opening quote, it might feel hard to work in a busy restaurant without losing your mind, and people in plenty of other industries are susceptible to feeling the same way from time to time. As EHS professionals, we can help avoid this type of staff sentiment by nurturing an environment that is safe, supportive, and stable. Antea Group’s Health and Safety services can help you fill any gaps in your program.

Looking for more EHS inspiration from pop culture? Check out Homer Simpson’s Guide to Workplace Health and Safety!

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SOURCE: Antea Group

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