Anticipate encountering some familiar faces in the kitchen of the BBC Drama series “Boiling Point” – along with some fresh ones!
Eight months after her mentor, Andy Jones, suffered a heart attack, head chef Carly is striving to establish a reputation for the new Dalston restaurant, Point North, alongside her longstanding kitchen team.
We track the team as the challenges of sustaining the restaurant weigh heavily on them in the midst of a hospitality industry facing a crisis. With the demand to attract new, eager patrons and the financial constraints to ensure the business remains viable, the team must figure out a way to navigate their intricate personal lives while consistently delivering high-quality cuisine.
Bradford Zone had a conversation with Vinette Robinson, who portrays Carly.
Who is Carly in Boiling Point?
Carly is the head chef of a new restaurant called Point North. She is very ambitious, cares deeply about her team, and is trying her hardest to keep her head above water in a very stressful situation and as various pressures throw themselves her way. We see how she navigates that world, as a woman in a male dominated industry, and how she tries to avoid the pitfalls of her former mentor and boss. She is extremely focused and dedicated to her job which is her strength but also her weakness.
How does the series follow on from the film?
One of the things that audiences really responded to were the characters. They had these little windows into various characters that they really connected with, and they wanted to know more. Within the series, we get to explore their lives in and out of the restaurant.
Do we get to see a bit more of Carly and her life away from the restaurant?
A lot of it is based on the back story that I created: what her home and personal life are, how her job impacts that, how she manages, or not, to balance those two things. We also delve into her relationship to her team and ultimately her relationship to herself, though there’s still a lot Carly isn’t ready to face. We meet Carly’s Mum, who’s played by the brilliant Cathy Tyson. I was excited to work with her because I’m such an admirer of her work. She’s a fellow mixed-race actress that I’d watched growing up when there weren’t many people who looked like me on TV, she paved the way. The idea of having Carly’s mum in the storyline came from understanding why Carly is the way she is and what’s pushed her to that point.
Why did Carly open Point North?
For Carly, the idea of Point North had been a long-held dream, and she was unexpectedly given the opportunity to follow it. It’s infused with her love, in the only way she knows how to show it, which is through food. It is something that was a profound and emotional experience for her growing up so that’s how she presents it. Point North is like an ode to her childhood, the menu, where she comes from, the places she inhabited.
What’s Carly’s head chef style? What do we see her bringing in terms of the how she wants to treat the team?
She is definitely part of the new generation of chefs who want to lead their kitchens differently and are focused on the well-being of their team. However, it is still a high-pressure environment. It’s still a situation which lends itself to fraying tempers. She battles with that. The thing about Carly is it always comes from a place of fairness, but she is human, she’s fallible, so it doesn’t always go so smoothly.
Was everything on the page, or did you do your own research for the character?
I would say the characters are very much ours. We’ve been given the space to create them. I spoke very early on with the team about my back story and that’s essentially the story – Carly’s relationship with her mum, how she approaches things, why and how she became a chef, how integral that is to her sense of self – and both the directors, Phil and Mounia, helped me develop that throughout production. I really wanted Carly’s character to be ‘in conversation’ with Andy and reflect the road he was on. She feels indebted to him but she tries so hard to set herself in opposition to him, to be a different kind of chef, to do things ‘correctly’, but will she have another path or are they manifesting the same journey in a different guise?
What does a drama set in a kitchen provide the audience?
The world of the restaurant is universal. They exist all over the world but the life of the kitchen is remarkably similar anywhere you go. Concentrating on the people who work in THIS restaurant, a restaurant in London, brings with it a melting pot of characters from different parts of the world. It can be quite a transient life and it allows for all kinds of people coming in and out. There are a lot of recognisable characters within our kitchen who are a merry band of misfits in some way: they come together, work incredibly long hours, in an incredibly intense environment and so the relationships that are formed are really interesting to explore and watch.
Can you give us a bit of insight into some of the more technical detail that you are given with working with Ellis Barry?
Ellis has been such an essential part of this process because I grabbed him at every given opportunity to ask questions. It was really important to have access to Ellis and he kept us on the right track. As for technical skills, it’s all smoke and mirrors I’m afraid. We have hand doubles who make us look great as there wasn’t enough time for us to learn how to chop quickly, for example. We did have some knife skills in the first week, and I chopped a lot of mushrooms at home, but it was decided it was too dangerous to let us near very sharp knives! There’s a claw technique that you use, so you don’t cut your fingers off. It takes time.
Did you have to learn any specific tips or additional techniques to make it authentic?
Just things like the way you hold a spoon. You have to hold it like a pen. It becomes an extension of your hand. I went to shadow a brilliant chef called Pip and I was observing how deftly she handled things, how she interacted with the food, her precision, how she moved around the space, how she spoke to her staff, even how she handled a bottle and how she flipped it. I did try and steal that. All those little things, where you put spoons, it sounds silly but you have to get those details right.
Do you think Carly is happy and in control of what is happening at Point North?
Carly is really trying. As much as she loved Andy, her mentor, to run a restaurant that was different to that old-school world is her goal now but she’s new to the game. She is having to deal with her own feelings of inadequacy while leading a team and she absolutely cannot show any weakness. She is so focused on that, that sometimes she neglects herself and what she needs, and that catches up with her.
How is the relationship between Carly and Andy?
The relationship is under some strain and we see the effects of that and how it emotionally affects both of them through the series. It’s a big point of contention for Carly, but she’s not dealing with that very well.