The Bear isn’t The Bear unless there’s some sort of fire—literal or metaphorical—that needs to be put out. If an arm isn’t going through a wall or there isn’t black mold raining from the ceiling, then it’s that every single pot and pan at The Bear (the restaurant, not the show) is absolutely burnt to hell. After promoting himself to executive chef, Carmy, our favorite blue-eyed chef, has given his former title of chef de cuisine to his right hand, Sydney. And Sydney knows that money is tight, so even though Chef Tina wants some “good good,” AKA a fresh set of cookware, that just will not happen. The answer instead comes in the form of a certain chef-approved cleaner called Bar Keepers Friend that will play a supporting role as the grease-buster to put a stack of burnt pots and pans back into commission.
For the uninitiated, Bar Keepers Friend is a nearly 150-year-old cleaning company that has become a secret weapon of restaurateurs, chefs, and amateur cooks for cleaning even the most soaked-in stains on cookware, countertops, and beyond. The wildly efficient cleaner relies on oxalic acid, an organic compound which breaks down stains and rust at a molecular level so that all it takes to remove a whole decade’s worth of caked-on grease is a little soaking and a moderate amount of wiping and elbow grease.
The original BKF, as it’s affectionately called, is an easy-to-use powder. Just sprinkle it onto stains (making sure to only use it on non-porous materials, so no wood, cast iron, leather, or the like), let it sit for no longer than a minute, then use a wet rag to scrub until clean. Alternatively, you can mix the powder with water to create a paste that you’ll use as a cookware exfoliator since BKF acts as a mild abrasive—which is why you should never use Bar Keepers Friend on non-stick cookware—if it has stains or burnt-on grease, that pan or pot is cooked.
If that all sounds a little too DIY for you, Bar Keepers Friend makes a “soft cleanser,” which is a pre-mixed liquid version of its powder, with the addition of a lemony scent. It’s even simpler to use since there’s less elbow grease required and you lessen the risk of inhaling any particles (a big, hazardous no-no). At the end of the day, BKF prevails and the restaurant narrowly avoids another last-minute hiccup: Tina reports back that it successfully managed to un-toast the burnt pots and pans. Even we’ve hopped on the BFK bandwagon in the past, and now we’re back again to remind you that Bar Keepers Friend is the real deal. You see that rusty stainless steel pan on your counter? Don’t throw it out; toss some BKF on there. As Tina puts it: “That Bar Keepers works.”