<p>Chef!: Complete Collection (DVD)</p><p>Meet Britain's finest -- and most ill-tempered -- chef, Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), of the prestigious Le Chateau Anglais restaurant. Each meal is a masterpiece. Just don't ask for salt. Chef Blackstock rules his kitchen with an iron ladle and puts up with no slacking. The trouble is that his underpaid and overworked kitchen staff is littered with slackers. Tuck in and prepare to double over in laughter with this hilarious and much loved comedy series from the BBC!</p>
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Hungry for a laugh? The BBC serves up more than a few chuckles in this engaging sitcom about imperious chef Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), a stern taskmaster who runs his kitchen with an iron fist, a lightning tongue, and a silver palate. The show combines some of the best elements of episodic drama and zany comedy, generously seasoned with sensual splashes of fine French cuisine. (Picture Julia Child crossed with Fawlty Towers' John Cleese following a script by the creators of thirtysomething and you get the general idea.) Blackstock is a brilliant, egotistical black chef running an all-white kitchen--until, that is, his wife maneuvers him into hiring an old school chum. Challenges mount as the restaurant faces bankruptcy and Blackstock decides to risk everything to buy it. Could fulfilling his dream wind up costing the king of the kitchen his home and savings? Supported by a talented ensemble cast, the dramatic story arc develops gradually enough to keep viewers wanting more, while individual episodes rest on more traditional sitcom gags--like when the new apprentice chef loses a Band-Aid somewhere in the kitchen but can't tell which gourmet dish it landed in. Later, Blackstock, the ultimate perfectionist, devises his most perfect mouthwatering meal and scours the shady underside of England's green and pleasant countryside for the perfect closer... the king of cheeses, an illegal unpasteurized stilton. Gradually the supporting characters are given more room to grow--especially charming young Everton (Roger Griffiths), the bumbling, insecure prep cook. When Blackstock's boorish Jamaican father (Oliver Samuels) browbeats the "serious professional" into abandoning haute cuisine for a night featuring Caribbean food, it's Everton's legendary dumplings that save the day. (Watching him carefully prepare his Guinness punch might be worth the price of the set alone.) Those expecting the surreal hysteria of Monty Python or similar classic British comedies might not care for Chef's subtleties, but those interested in quality television mixed with fine food and sprinkled with a few decent laughs will be more than satisfied by what this show has to offer. --Grant Balfour
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