September 26, 2005 12:00 PM

FOX (Mondays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

COMEDY

Chef Anthony Bourdain is probably best known for his 2000 memoir Kitchen Confidential, an exposé of the restaurant trade that began as a New Yorker article with the irresistible title “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” FOX’s Confidential, co-produced by Darren Star, is a slick and shiny entertainment that fictionalizes Bourdain into a sexy chef (first name now Jack) making a rebound after flambéing his career with substance abuse. He’s hired to run the kitchen of an elegant but tired Manhattan restaurant and overnight transforms it into a scene packed with beautiful people. They seem to have gotten dressed and come over as soon as they heard there was a new place for Sex and the City extras. In the kitchen, meanwhile, the staff is one big mess, arguing whether the appetizer asparagus have been correctly arranged as a pyramid or a sloppy tepee, then hunting down a fingertip accidentally chopped off and sent out to one of the tables.

Bradley Cooper is an interesting choice to play Bourdain: His face can seem either sharply hawklike or soft, almost puppyish. These irreconcilables coexist, somehow, and make him appealing. Emeril Lagasse should have prepped under him before trying that sitcom of his.

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