Directed by Philip Barantini and fronted by the endlessly talented, Stephan Graham, Boiling Point had an explosive release across the BBC last year. Shot in one take in an hour and a half, the film depicts one of the busiest nights of the year in a renowned London restaurant with Stephen Graham as the head chef.
The chaos that ensues is an extremely raw depiction of the hospitality industry and one that people may not be aware of. It got wildly positive reviews and its relatability was praised on social media by thousands of hospitality workers; this explains the recent confirmation that the drama will be returning as a five-part series picking up six months after the film and following the sous chef Carly. Filming is said to be planned for 2023, with the majority of the cast returning.
The hospitality industry is something that people may struggle to grasp the reality of if they have not been a part of it. This is not to tear down the sector at all, there are things that this industry offers that are incomparable. The long hours and the pressures are just a few things that bring the staff together to create a family-like environment that makes Saturday nights feel a little bit less apocalyptic. Boiling Point, shows this perfectly with the relationships between the head chef and sous chef, Andy and Carly, and the two waitresses, Robyn and Andrea. Shifts don’t seem so rough when you have people beside you to complain to.
There is a point when this doesn’t feel like enough. One in five hospitality workers suffers from severe mental health issues stemming from work-related pressures. Boiling Point offers a peak under the surface, much like a visual depiction of the swan theory; moving gracefully externally should hide what is actually the reality beneath the surface. Perhaps this is why guests often project abuse at you when you are trying to appear calm despite completely running out of the 4 ingredients you needed to make a particular cocktail or the fact you have come to terms with the realization you are not getting a break in the ten-hour shift you are in the midst of.
Communication or Lack Thereof
The main characters, Andy and Carly, are shown on several occasions clashing with who appears to be the manager, Beth, over lack of communication. After speaking to several people in the hospitality industry, it appears this is one of the main aggressors in the downfall of a shift. Overbooking and understaffing are things that go unfortunately hand in hand in the worst way in this industry; not that they are wildly compatible, just that they often find themselves painfully coupled together.
In more than one instance, the manager, Beth, seems to have little knowledge on what she is expressing her annoyance over, the lamb debacle, for example. Carly explodes at Beth after she tries to undermine the service they are providing, firing back and accusing her of overbooking and not having empathy for the situation that the workers now find themselves in because of this. Alongside this, Andrea is facing racially-motivated abuse at the hands of a customer whilst still being criticized by her peers; if this film is anything it is a message to people outside and inside of the industry- look around and speak up.
Pressure and its Vices
One of the most gut-wrenching moments of the film, spoiler alert, is the collapsing of the protagonist, Andy, after viewers are shown his alcohol and substance abuse problems. Providing consistent professional service at an unrelenting pace can have an impact on people. There’s a reason the industry has uncharted rates of substance abuse. Celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, described the nature of his work environment as ‘insular and chaotic’; partially because the kitchens were a distressing and merciless environment to operate in for hours on end but mostly because they were ‘drenched in drugs and alcohol’.
The hospitality industry has so many positives and does often create friends that last a lifetime, but when is the time to have a conversation about where it is falling short?