I saw the first episode of Whites the other day and mostly thought of how much I love Chef!, this show my whole family watched together in the 90s. Chef! starred Lenny Henry as Gareth Blackstock, an obsessive, control freak of a chef at Le Chateau Anglais, an old-school French joint in the English countryside.
We watched the show for Blackstock's intricately crafted insults. You know, those delightfully long, over-the-top abusive episodes found in Black Adder and Fawlty Towers? As kids, my brother and I found them inspiring. Blackstock's unpasteurized-cheese rant, above, is a classic. His frequent disappointment in Everton, a young cook who means well but tends to screw things up, is also pretty great:
Whites feels like an homage to Chef!: A show about an English fine-dining chef working in an old country manor. (Also: a white chef named White, after a black chef named Blackstock, possibly after another white chef named Blanc.)
But while Blackstock was on top of his game, exhausted, overworked, always pushing his team to do great things, always working harder than everyone else, White is a bored, lazy drunk. He rolls his eyes at the thought of updating the menu. He retires to his office in the middle of a busy service to record ideas for his memoir (he hasn't got a book deal). He screws over his sous chef for a chance to be on the telly. He gets drunk on the roof and hits golf balls into the parking lot, like a teenager.
In short, Gareth Blackstock would have fired his ass.
I miss Gareth Blackstock.