How Paris' Verjus Inspired A Crucial Part Of The Bear Season 2 - Exclusive

When the second season of "The Bear" crescendoed into its final episodes, viewers were treated to a flash of sight and sound as protagonist Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) led the crew through the soft opening of the restaurant's menu. Many of the dishes prepared carried emotional weight as they served as callbacks to moments in earlier episodes. One such example — Sydney's Donut, which featured in the episode "Review" — was made by the character Marcus Brookson (Lionel Boyce) and served as a turning of pages following season one's kitchen catastrophe. As it turns out, the Italian-style donut that became the symbol for this pivotal moment in the second season was actually inspired by the Parisian restaurant, Verjus.  

Recently, Tasting Table sat down to talk with the culinary producer of "The Bear," Courtney Storer, to discuss some of the inspiration behind producing the season's new menu. While much of it was a collaborative process (Storer credits Boyce with the idea for Mom's Honey Bun), Storer's professional background played a huge part in her ideas for how to create dishes that would represent the growth and creative passion of Marcus's character. 

"My experience in fine dining at Verjus in Paris really came into play," Storer says. "I tried to imagine what inspires [Marcus] to elevate the things he loves, like donuts. That's how I landed on the orange zeppole and fermented cherry glaze." 

Verjus inspired a full circle moment for Marcus

Down the street from the corner of the Palais Royal sits the small Parisian restaurant specializing in New American cuisine. While the fact that a French Restaurant serving American cuisine would land on an Italian dessert makes one head spin a bit, cutting-edge cuisine knows no national boundaries. And it's not so surprising when you learn that Verjus was originally founded by Americans Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian, who have been a part of the City of Lights' dining scene since 2011. Verjus has seen many high-caliber chefs through its doors since this time, and the restaurant has a reputation for offering creative desserts — something Storer credits as motivating her to think outside the box when it came to developing Sydney's Donut. 

"What was so fun at Verjus," Storer says, is that "we would do plays on really fun things. Italian doughnuts, and elevating them with an orange whipped cream." Storer detailed how she got much of the inspiration from the cooking of Verjus-alum Jeremiah Stone, who had a talent for making simple food delicious. Since his time there, Stone became co-found of NYC's Wildair, which (perhaps unsurprisingly) has a wildly creative donut program. Using these Verjus-related dessert experiences, Storer created a beautiful evolution for the menu in "The Bear," leveraging a simple donut to create the pivotal moment where Carmy truly recognizes Marcus's talent.