Are Burnt’s Adam Jones and Helene Sweeney Based on Real Chefs?

John Wells’ drama film ‘Burnt’ follows Adam Jones, a renowned and respected chef who goes estranged due to his alcohol and drug addiction. After cutting ties with his friends and colleagues, Adam reappears in their lives after years to run a restaurant and earn a third Michelin star. Adam prepares a dream team of chefs to run the establishment with his former employer Tony Balerdi. Adam discovers Helene Sweeney from a familiar restaurant and adds her to his team. The two of them eventually form an endearing connection at the same place where they make marvelous food that astounds their customers. Intrigued by Adam and Helene, we have found out whether the characters have real-life counterparts. Here are our findings!

Is Adam Jones Based on a Real Chef?

Adam Jones is a fictional character conceived by screenwriter Steven Knight for ‘Burnt.’ However, several real-life chefs inspired the screenwriter to conceive the characteristics of Adam, starting with celebrity chef and ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ co-judge Marcus Wareing. “He [Steven Knight] wanted to write a script about chefs that would hopefully one day be turned into a movie, but he had to first understand the cooking world. He wanted to get inside a chef’s head—it just happened to be my head,” Wareing told Tasting Table about the foundation of the character.

In addition, celebrated chefs Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay also inspired Adam’s characterization. “I created a guy I see as a mixture of the three guys I studied: Marcus Wareing, Gordon Ramsey, and Marco Pierre White. He’s a combination. Little things he does, physical things, are basically things I stole from all three of those guys,” Bradley Cooper, who plays Adam, told Yahoo! Movies. Like Adam, Marco Pierre White was awarded three Michelin stars and the chef also ran restaurants in London, England, where Cooper’s character runs his restaurant. Although Wareing, Ramsay, and White lives and Adam’s life aren’t similar, the work ethic and principles of the real-life chefs are visible in Adam as well.

Is Helene Sweeney Based on a Real Chef?

No, Helene Sweeney is not based on a real chef. She is a fictional character conceived by Steven Knight for the film. However, the character isn’t entirely distanced from reality. Helene represents several real-life single mothers, who confront several plights and challenges one after the other to protect themselves and their families. The hardships Helene faces and the compromises she makes aren’t very different from the struggles real-life single mothers deal with. Sienna Miller, who plays Helene, even wanted her character to appear in the film as a “real person.”

“She [Helene] is trying to do her best, and I think it was that I wanted her to be a very real person. I didn’t want to wear makeup or portray her in any inauthentic way, possibly because the women that I’ve met who work in these kitchens — it’s a very male-dominated environment — they have to be really tough and strong. She’s got depth, she’s got pain, and that resonated with me,” Miller told Blackfilm. Through Helene, Knight and director Wells also explore the conflict that arises between traditional and modern cooking techniques since Adam prefers the former while Helene prefers the latter.

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