Dinner and a show in Boiling Point Season 1

By Gen Terblanche21 May 2024

Dinner and a show in Boiling Point Season 1

Out front, a high-end restaurant has the reverent hush of chapel set aside for the worship of food. Delicate daily offerings are laid out for a host of strangers whose whims are law, and whose judgement will decide whether the restaurant lives or dies. Behind the kitchen door, though, there’s a zoo full of sweating, swearing, panic-stricken animals waving knives and dodging flames. Welcome to the real drama. 

Working at Dalston restaurant Jones & Sons was so stressful that it drove Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) to a heart attack. But it’s always dinner time somewhere, and Andy’s protege Carly (Vinette Robinson) has started her own kitchen as head chef and co-owner of the brand-new restaurant Point North in the British drama series Boiling Point. The title really hits the right flavour notes, because any personal problems you bring into the kitchen are going to reach boiling point the moment you get distracted.

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Serving drama

Vinette Robinson as Carly in Boiling Point S1
Vinette Robinson as Carly

“The themes we touch upon are relatable across the globe: alcoholism, addiction, mental health, human beings going through a rough time. We wanted to shine a light on society on those issues and I want the audience to come away from each episode feeling something about themselves, or someone that they know,” explains series director and executive producer Phil Barantini. 

“The world of the restaurant is universal,” adds Vinette. “It can be quite a transient life and it allows for all kinds of people coming in and out. There are a lot of recognisable characters within our kitchen who are a merry band of misfits in some way: they come together, work incredibly long hours, in an incredibly intense environment and so the relationships that are formed are really interesting to explore and watch.” 

A new recipe for the kitchen

Vinette Robinson as Carly  and Stephen Odubola as Johnny in Boiling Point S1
Vinette Robinson as Carly and Stephen Odubola as Johnny

For Carly, there’s an added complication in the recipe because while she wants to achieve Andy’s level of excellence, she doesn’t want to repeat his mistakes. And she’ll have to push back against expectations and tradition with staff who’re still used to treating restaurant work as a boys’ club. 

“As much as she loved Andy, her mentor, to run a restaurant that was different to that old-school world is her goal now but she’s new to the game,” says Vinette. “She is having to deal with her own feelings of inadequacy while leading a team and she absolutely cannot show any weakness. She is definitely part of the new generation of chefs who want to lead their kitchens differently and are focused on the well-being of their team. However, it is still a high-pressure environment. It’s still a situation which lends itself to fraying tempers. She battles with that. The thing about Carly is it always comes from a place of fairness, but she is human, she’s fallible, so it doesn’t always go so smoothly,” Vinette warns. 

A chiffonade charade

Shaun Fagan as Bolton , Steven Ogo as Nick and Izuka Hoyle as Camille in Boiling Point S1
(From left): Shaun Fagan as Bolton, Steven Ogg as Nick and Izuka Hoyle as Camille

Working on a series about a restaurant kitchen meant the cast had to re-learn some surprisingly basic things – like how to hold a spoon. “You have to hold it like a pen. It becomes an extension of your hand,” explains Vinette, who picked up the tip from the series’ chef consultant, Ellis Barrie.

Beyond that, performers like Vinette observed real-life chefs in action. “It was really important to have access to Ellis and he kept us on the right track … I went to shadow a brilliant chef called Pip and I was observing how deftly she handled things, how she interacted with the food, her precision, how she moved around the space, how she spoke to her staff, even how she handled a bottle and how she flipped it. I did try and steal that. All those little things, where you put spoons, it sounds silly but you have to get those details right,” she reveals.

When it came to more dangerous elements in the kitchen, though, there was some clever camera slicing and dicing to prevent a bloodbath. “It’s all smoke and mirrors I’m afraid,” Vinette admits. “We have hand doubles who make us look great as there wasn’t enough time for us to learn how to chop quickly, for example. We did have some knife skills in the first week, and I chopped a lot of mushrooms at home, but it was decided it was too dangerous to let us near very sharp knives! There’s a claw technique that you use, so you don’t cut your fingers off. It takes time.”

Binge Boiling Point Season 1 on Showmax now.

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