Jack Bourdain had it all but messed it up going wild. Four years later, he ends up with a crappy job in Pizza Chain. Then, he gets an offer to get back in the game as the chef of a famous restaurant.
Having been described as "wicked" and "debauched," Anthony Bourdain's culinary memoir was bound to be a tough sell for network TV. In Kitchen Confidential's sitcom incarnation, dark-haired Anthony becomes blond, blue-eyed Jack (Bradley Cooper). In the pilot, the recovering alcoholic moves from a pizzeria to a brasserie. The catch is that he has to hire a staff in 48 hours, so he turns to pastry expert Seth (Nicholas Brendon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), seafood genius Teddy (John Cho, Smiley Face), and sous-chef Steven (Owain Yeoman). He also inherits kitchen worker Jim (John Francis Daley, Freaks and Geeks). In reality, Bourdain ran the shop at New York's celebrated Les Halles. In the show, Jack oversees the kitchen at the fictional Nolita. Pino (Frank Langella, terrific as usual) manages the joint, while the wait staff includes his tightly-wound daughter, Mimi (Bonnie Somerville, NYPD Blue) and the bubble-headed Tanya (Jaime King, Pearl Harbor). As in producer Darren Star's Sex and the City, the central character narrates, there's no laugh track, and more of the comedy revolves around sex than work.
While Cooper (The Wedding Crashers) isn't the most obvious choice to play Bourdain--and although Kitchen Confidential would've made more sense on cable--he does a surprisingly credible job, even if the writing lets him down on occasion. Realistic or not, severed fingers and singed eyebrows tend to play better in print than on the screen. Of the 13 episodes produced, FOX only aired four (back-to-back with Arrested Development), which is a shame as it was just starting to hit its stride. Guest stars include Bitty Schram ("Exile on Main Street"), John Larroquette ("Dinner Date with Death"), and Cooper's Alias co-star Michael Vartan ("French Fight"). --Kathleen C. Fennessy