The Bear: The Real Owner Of Mr. Beef Has Never Seen The Show But Has Made A Cameo

Season 2 of FX's acclaimed series "The Bear" follows the Original Beef of Chicagoland's laborious glow-up from a scrappy sandwich shop into a Michelin star-chasing fine dining establishment. "The Bear" feels authentic, an achievement that belongs in large part to the real-life chef who inspired the show, the late Joseph Zucchero, who acquired the real-life Mr. Beef in 1979.

"The Bear" creator Christopher Storer is childhood friends with Zucchero's son, Chris, who is Mr. Beef's current owner. In fulfilling his years-long dream to make a show about Mr. Beef, he shot the pilot at his childhood haunt. When "The Bear" got picked up, Storer and his team recreated the restaurant on a set. "They did it to a T, down to the stains on the wall," Zucchero recalled in an interview with Variety. In Season 2, Mr. Beef was used once again for exterior shots.

Mr. Beef has had brushes with fame before, thanks in part to its biggest fan and champion, Jay Leno, but "The Bear" is giving the humble shop a second life as a photo op. Still, Zucchero says the attention is more embarrassing than anything else. As such, he's avoided watching or reading about the show. "I just feel weird," he said. "I don't really promote anything with 'The Bear.' I don't want to be the guy that's like, 'Look at me. I'm the f—ing 'Bear' guy.'"

Zucchero may not be a "Bear" hype man, but he did agree to make a cameo appearance in his old friend's show.

Chris Zucchero is too busy making beef to watch The Bear

Save a promotional "The Bear" poster "way in the corner" of Mr. Beef, Chris Zucchero prioritizes sandwiches, not celebrity. "Somebody's got to wake up the next day and make beef," he said in the same Variety interview, inadvertently channeling one Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White). "I try to just keep everything and myself the same. It's what I've known my whole life. The only thing I've ever known in my life is that restaurant."

That being said, Zucchero hasn't been able to ignore "The Bear" entirely. Ahead of Season 1, someone from the show informed him that he had been scheduled for an audition. "I was like, 'No, no, no, you must have the wrong guy. I'm the guy that owns the restaurant,'" Zucchero recalled. "But then I just did it." He appears in the pilot as Chi-Chi, Carmy's meat dealer that sells him beef in exchange for vintage denim. In true Chicago fashion, the deal goes down underneath a Malört billboard.

"Now I have a newfound respect for what actors do," Zucchero said of the experience. "It's an incredibly hard thing to do." He didn't reprise the role in "The Bear" Season 2, but he did cater hot Italian beef sandwiches at the show's parties for the occasion.