Burnt explained: who is the Michelin star chef based on?

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Burnt is a 2015 movie starring Bradley Cooper, now available on Netflix US. The movie wasn’t a huge success when it came out in theatres, but it got new popularity in 2022, while another film about top-class cuisine, The Menu, was released. People had many questions about the movie: is it based on a true story, and who is Chef Adam Jones based on? Did he finally succeed in getting the third Michelin star he wanted? In this article, we will have the plot and ending explained, answering all questions.

You can watch the official trailer for Burnt here on Youtube.

Burnt movie ending explained: did he get the third Michelin star?

In Burnt, Adam Jones is a chef who was working in a high-class restaurant in Paris. He got two Michelin stars, a recognition from the most important reference for restaurant reviews, the Michelin guide, where two stars are just one step below the highest vote, three stars. Adam was aiming for his third star, but his abuse of drugs and alcohol messed up everything: he self-exiled for a while after many people lost their job and hated him.

On this day, Adam goes to London, intending to reach the top level again and gain the third Michelin star. He convinces Tony, the maître d’hôtel of his previous restaurant in Paris, to let him work in the kitchen of his new hotel in London. Michel, who was working with Adam in Paris, will also join, although there is some bad blood between them after what happened.

The movie continues, and we see Adam leading the kitchen with a severe, authoritative attitude. He demands perfection from everybody, waiting for the day when the Michelin reviewers will arrive: they usually come in secret, but they always use behavioral patterns that will let the crew recognize them. One day, the day seems to arrive: two men are sitting at a table, following all the typical behaviors of Michelin reviewers, and the kitchen is sure that that’s the great moment. Adam was beaten by two old creditors a few minutes earlier but decided to enter the kitchen and lead everybody with his usual, vigorous approach.

It will be a failure: Michel will purposely betray Adam, sabotaging the sauce with pepper as revenge for what happened in Paris. Adam feels all is lost; he leaves the restaurant and gets drunk for the first time in two years. However, some scenes later, we discover from Tony that those men weren’t Michelin reviewers, so Adam still has a chance for the third star. Michel is out of the game, and Adam starts managing the kitchen differently, with a gentler attitude.

In the movie ending, the Michelin reviewers finally arrive, and we see Adam using all his confidence, letting his kitchen cook as they always do, a sign that he feels safe about the level of perfection they reached working together. The gaze exchange between Adam and Tony in Burnt ending scene explained what happened: yes, they finally gained the third Michelin star. And the crew celebrates with a “family meal,” symbolizing the new way Adam leads the team.

Is Burnt based on a true story? Who is the chef based on?

Burnt is not a true story. Steven Knight wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Michael Kalesniko. The plot is, therefore, fictional.

However, Bradley Cooper explained in many interviews that he prepared his character Adam Jones by analyzing the real-life behavior of four actual top-class chefs closely: Marco Pierre White (the chef known as “the first celebrity chef,” the first British chef awarded with three Michelin stars), Marcus Wareing (a British chef that had two Michelin stars some years ago), Gordon Ramsay (one of the most famous chefs in the world, also awarded with three Michelin stars), and Clare Smyth (an Irish chef currently with three Michelin stars). To close the circle, Gordon Ramsay is also one of the movie’s executive producers.

For the most curious: Adam mentions the chef that taught him everything in Paris, calling him Jean-Luc. People believe the name is an homage to the French chef Jean-Luc Rabanel, who earned two Michelin stars in 2009.

The direct references to real-life people help us understand that what we see in the movie is similar to how the top-class kitchens in the world are managed: therefore, the movie Burnt has explained to us how hard high-level cuisine is.

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