Sweetbitter premiere: Salt awakens the palate for a new life


The Sweetbitter premiere on Starz was a highly anticipated new show. While the first episode set the stage, did the show appeal to foodies?

People are drawn to food TV. From cooking shows to cooking competitions, chefs are becoming as famous as movie stars and rock stars. Something about amazing, life changing food is must watch television. Starz’s Sweetbitter premiere is part drama and part food-gasm. Did the food appease the foodie?

Sweetbitter premiere season 1, episode 1

While the Sweetbitter novel offered that glimpse into the glamorous, high-end restaurant world, this first episode of Sweetbitter tried to offer both the coming to age storyline and the food-porn that people crave. Although Tess’s life is integral to the story, this recap is going to focus on the food.

In the first episode, food was a secondary character. Truthfully, this first episode did a great job giving the sense of the dysfunctional family atmosphere of a high-end restaurant. While Sweetbitter wasn’t Kitchen Confidential, the fast pace, attention to detail aspect of the restaurant seemed clear.

In food terms, this first episode was the amuse bouche. Only a few little morsels of foodie goodness was in this episode. Still, these little tastes should bring food fans back for more.

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The biggest food moment was when Simone explained the expensive wine. Her description was similar to the explanation a sommelier would offer. In succinct terms, she could tell all the characteristics of the wine. While this moment was Simone’s way of showing herself as the alpha, the underlying purpose of the wine tasting could be overlooked.

Did you notice the simple statement that the servers should tell their guests about the $200 bottle of wine? The staff wouldn’t be tasting that particular wine if the restaurant did want to sell more of those $200 bottle. Sure, some of the staff said that the wine tastes old and couldn’t describe the nuances. Still, these people were encouraged to influence guests to buy that $200 bottle with their meal.

The wine tasting happened during family meal. In some restaurants, the family meal is the time where the staff comes together before service. The family meal isn’t necessarily about the food, rather it is bringing everyone together. Just like the guests that they serve, the family meal brings the servers, chef and some staff together at the table. Can these co-workers, or dysfunctional family, really work together?

The final scene of the Sweetbitter premiere has Tess taste an oyster. This single moment in the walk-in before service sets Tess on a journey. Throughout the first episode, Tess struggles to know what brought her to this point. Can she leave the past behind and become the person she is meant to be?

Although apprehensively, Tess eats the oyster. In an instant, she tastes a new world. While she may not have the vocabulary to describe the briny oyster, she simply says salt. That simple seasoning can make a huge difference in the success or failure of a dish.

Instead of the tray full of salt shakers that seemed pointless, that single, salty oyster opens Tess’ eyes to a whole new world. In the simple phrase, may I have another, Tess chooses her path and starts her journey.

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What will this season of Sweetbitter bring? The Sweetbitter premiere has awoken the palate for a well-seasoned season. How will next week’s second course take shape? Watch episode two on Starz next Sunday at 8 p.m. EST.