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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Kitchen Confidential: The Complete Series (2005)

"The truth is, from the age of eight, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was born to cook."
- Jack Bourdain (Bradley Cooper)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: May 24, 2007

Stars: Bradley Cooper
Other Stars: Frank Langella, Nicholas Brendon, Owain Yeoman, Jaime King, John Cho, John Francis Daley, Bonnie Sommerville, Michael Vartan, John Larroquette, Morena Baccarin
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 04m:44m:41s
Release Date: May 22, 2007
UPC: 024543427629
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A- B

DVD Review

2005's Kitchen Confidential is another example of an excellent TV series that suffered from mis-marketing and lack of support from a major network. Buoyed by a stellar cast of mostly unknowns, this extremely funny and witty show was abruptly yanked from Fox's lineup after only four episodes aired. Now, thanks to yet another perk of the DVD format, those of us who did give the show a chance can experience all 13 installments and finally have at least some semblance of closure.

Based on the autobiographical book by chef Anthony Bourdain, the series is set at Nolita, an upscale restaurant owned by Pino (Frank Langella). He's just hired Jack Bourdain (Bradley Cooper of Alias) who's struggled to find good work thanks to a huge ego and penchant for sex and drugs. Jack doesn't have much time to assemble his staff, so his crew consists mostly of miscreants whom he's worked with in the past. Among them are sous-chef/thief Steven Daedelus (Owain Yeoman), pastry chef Seth Richman (Buffy's Nicholas Brendon), seafood expert Teddy Wong (John Cho), and the very young Jim (John Francis Daley). Having to train a new staff is difficult enough, but Jack has to also break-in gorgeous hostess, Tanya (Jaime King) and avoid clashes with Pino's daughter, Mimi (Bonnie Sommerville), to build a successful establishment.

The first episode, Exile on Main Street gets the show off to a great start, introducing Jack, chronicling his acceptance of the job at Nolita, and the staff recruitment. We then move to Aftermath, an appropriately titled show where we get our first real glimpse at Steven's tendency to steal things. Also, Steven and Seth decide Jack needs to relieve his tensions by sleeping with someone, while the crew must deal with a group of stockbrokers who pull the old dine and dash trick.

Dinner Date with Death introduces us to Jack's mentor, Chef Gerard (John Larroquette), who wants him to literally serve him food until he's dead. The final episode to actually air, French Fight, focusing on a rival chef named Michel (Michael Vartan), who has stolen Nolita's menu. Seeing these two ex-Alias stars together again is a treat, with Vartan being particularly slimy as he moves in on Mimi. While it's a shame that the show was pulled by the network, at least it left the schedule on a very high note.

The remaining nine, unaired installments make for excellent viewing, and it's a shame that they've gone unseen until now. The first is You Lose, I Win, a fun episode where Jack reveals a lighter side by mingling with his customers. Cooper really gets to expose his wide range of acting skills in what may be his finest episode. Rabbit Test is one of the few, if not the only real throw-away installment, but Let's Do Brunch picks things up again, focusing on a secret affair between Jack and Becky. Teddy Takes Off focuses on the staff's reaction to a positive review from Food and Wine magazine. The write-up is of one of Teddy's dishes, and when Jack takes sole credit for it, his seafood guru quits. Of course, a bevy of customers begin ordering the much-publicized meal, leading Jack to stop at nothing to get Teddy back.

The Robbery centers on the aftermath of, well, a robbery, and the hilarious Jim works overtime to impress Jack in Praise Be Praise. My favorite episode, An Affair to Remember, finds Jack at his womanizing best. His newest conquest, Gia (Morena Baccarin), turns out to be Pino's mistress. The lengths at which Jack goes to hide this affair are hilarious, but the wheels fall off when Pino has a party for his wife that Gia crashes. Power Play sees Mimi take over as owner of Nolita, and Jack does all he can to control the restaurant's operations. Everything is basically resolved in the season/series finale, And the Award Goes To..., when the place is nominated for an award against Becky's restaurant. Despite the series' early death, many of the storylines are nicely wrapped-up, and there is a surprisingly satisfying conclusion to a show that never really had the chance it deserved.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Each show appears in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, with the quality being as close as it can to the original HD presentations. The images are very sharp and detailed, while bright, vivid colors are a constant. A bit of grain does creep up from time to time, but these are otherwise blemish-free transfers.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and the music takes full advantage of these tracks' active surround usage. The show is mostly dialogue-driven though, and I'm happy to report that every line of the actors' speech is always crisp and crystal clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 45 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Exile on Main Street - Darren Star, Dave Hemingson, and Bradley Cooper2. And the Award Goes To... - Karine Rosenthal, Dave Hemingson, Bradley Cooper, and Dean Lopata
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The impressive extras collection includes a pair of audio commentary tracks. The first is for Exile on Main Street and features creator David Hemingson, producer Darren Star, and Bradley Cooper discussing the origin of the show, casting, and other early production aspects. The second track is for the finale, And the Award Goes To..., with Hemingson, Cooper, and writers Dean Lopata and Karine Rosenthal doing the talking. They reminisce about the show's short life, and throw in a bunch of on-set anecdotes.

Tour of the Nolta is a brief piece where Bradley Cooper shows us around where most of Kitchen Confidential's action is filmed.

A Recipe for Comedy is 13 minutes of in-depth discussion about the show. This is arecently produced piece full of cast and crew interviews, during which they reflect on shooting the series, and their extreme disappointment in its cancellation. It's a great and candid discussion that doesn't pull any punches.

Finishing things up is a trailer for the series.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Despite mishandling of the show on TV, Fox makes things right with their DVD release of Kitchen Confidential: The Complete Series. Whether you missed the show's first four episodes or were among the few that got to enjoy them, all 13 entries are finally at your disposal. This two-disc set features topnotch audio and video transfers, along with some nice extras to boot.

 


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