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See, in life, Piers, different people want different things. Some want large fortunes, some want carnal knowledge of vast number of the opposite, or indeed their own sex, and some want to write down the numbers of all the British rail diesel locomotives currently in service. Chacun a son goût. Me, my single aim in life is to send the finest, best presented food through that door there. That's it! And if it's at the cost of a few human lives, well, that's fine by me.—Gareth Blackstock, Chef! (episode 1)
Chef!, a British comedy TV show that ran from 1993 to 1996, concerns the life of famed English chef de cuisine Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry) as he attempts to maintain the prestigious Château Anglaise, the best French restaurant in England, while dealing with his tumultuous marriage. Gareth's rampaging rants and incessant insults provide much of the comedy for the show.
Only three characters have significant roles throughout the show's three series run:
- Gareth, the star
- Everton, an apprentice chef
- Janice, Gareth's wife who has to deal with his issues every day
Other characters appeared for shorter durations:
- Gustav (series 2 and 3), a once highly regarded chef who declined due to a drinking problem
- Lucinda (series 1), the sous chef--directly subordinate to Gareth--who, despite her petite size, is sometimes shown to have a bite whereas Gareth has a bark
This series contains examples of:
- Berserk Button -- For Gareth there are many times. One of the most memorable occurs when he overhears a customer asking for salt before tasting his meal.
Gareth: I hate you with a passion you can only dream of. Bon apetit. Behold! http://youtu.be/MixYRIUzVXs
- Bumbling Sidekick -- Everton. He does eventually get better. Everton does know how to cook, but it's mostly fast-food cooking
- Card-Carrying Villain: Gareth isn't technically a villain but he still fits the description nonetheless, as one of his prime running gags is his unabashedness (and even pride) at his own wretchedness. "I am Gareth Blackstock and I am a thoroughly unpleasant person! I am a bastard! My bite is much worse than my bark and my bark is ATROCIOUS!"
- Catch Phrase -- "Give me strength!"
- Everton would also append "sorta thing" onto the end of most sentences. When he didn't, other characters looked at him funny until he did. Sometimes, just to be safe, he'd say "sorta thing sorta thing".
- Character Filibuster: Gareth repeatedly goes on them.
- Closer to Earth -- Janice.
- Deadpan Snarker -- Gareth, Janice, Lucinda
- Gareth tends to yell at his underlings, but dealing with authority figures (or his wife) contents himself with snide comments.
Health Inspector: How long has this cheese been sitting out?
Gareth: Precisely two hours. Any longer and it would be at risk of achieving its full flavor and texture.
- Drill Sargeant Nasty: Non-military example, though Gareth does run his kitchen like he was preparing an invasion.
- Flanderization -- Gareth's behavior seems to turn towards this in series 3.
- Food Porn -- Don't watch this show if you're hungry.
- French Jerk/ Cultural Posturing -- One of Gareths rivals during an international cooking competition mocks him simply for being British.
- Freudian Excuse -- Gareth frequently engages in rants about his childhood, which might explain his Jerkass behaviour. His father - when he shows up - is a worse Jerkass than Gareth himself.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! -- Gareth's wife frequently plays this role, although it's typically futile.
- Gilligan Cut -- Done frequently after Gareth's tirades.
- Hair-Trigger Temper -- Gareth. Although he's particularly sensitive about food, he's liable to hit the Berserk Button whenever stressed.
- Its Pronounced Tropay -- Renee/Reenie
- Mixed Metaphor -- Cyril Bryson. "This is the eye of the needle that breaks the camel's back!"
- Obstructive Bureaucrat --How Gareth perceives health and safety inspectors.
- New Old Flame -- Lucille in the last two episodes.
- Oop North -- Cyril
- The Other Darrin -- Gustav, played by Ian McNeice in series 2 and Jeff Nuttall in series 3.
- Rant-Inducing Slight
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic -- Gareth's rants.
- Rich Bitch: Renee
- Second Prize -- Subverted in an episode where Gareth begins bemoaning the unfairness of it as he places second in the hors d'ouvres section, which is compounded when he then places second in the entree section. He is barely able to suppress his rage when he goes on to receive third place in the dessert section, only to discover that, as he was the only contestant to place in more than one category, he has won the overall first place.
- Supreme Chef -- Gareth, obviously. Surprisingly, Everton when it comes to Caribean food.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs -- (Episode 1) Everton assumes too much familiarity with Gareth by calling him "Stock".