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Chef!: A Second Helping

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Chef!: A Second Helping

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After failing to make it big in America during the Great New Comedian Drought of the early '90s (remember 1991's whiteface comedy True Identity?), British comedian Lenny Henry created and starred in the popular BBC series Chef!, recently released on video for the first time in America. Given the genial, enjoyable nature of the show, it's likely that anyone giving Henry a second chance will warm to his talents. It should also be clear that it's Henry—in the role of a harried master chef nearly as uncompromising in his pomposity as he is in his artistic integrity—and his talented supporting cast who make the show interesting, rather than the material itself. With its telegraphed jokes and stock situations, Chef! hardly breaks new ground; it has a notably poor theme song, and its first episode is downright awkward. But overall, it's an entertaining series with an engrossing ongoing storyline, and one that allows Henry to shine as he grows into his character.