‘The Office’ Star Brian Baumgartner Spills Some New Details About The Infamous Chili Cold Open

The Office is, by now, timeless in a way few 2000s-era sitcoms have managed to become. A 200-episode show debuting before Twitter existed that’s remained so popular an entire streaming service’s rollout was built around it is kind of crazy when you think about it. But the show’s enduring presence means we’re going to learn a lot more about the nuances of the show basically, well, forever.

The show is officially trapped in a loop of entire sections of fans learning (and sometimes, relearning) tidbits of trivia about the show’s most infamous moments. An easy example of that is the chili cold open, in which Kevin makes his “famous” chili in a huge pot and proceeds to spill it all over the office floor, ruining everything.

You can watch the clip above. It’s simple yet very effective and a great bit of physical comedy from actor Brian Baumgartner. And in the years since that clip aired, his career has strangely revolved around that one-minute cold open, to the point that he actually wrote a chili cookbook and is constantly asked about the filming of the chili scene. And sometimes those moments get their own second life of sorts, like this interview Baumgartner did with Rich Eisen in which he detailed some new details about filming his most iconic moment from The Office.

“I thought it was funny but I never imagined that it would catch on like it did,” Baumgartner said on The Rich Eisen Show earlier this summer. “I had no idea as we were filming it, end of the day, me alone, that it would ever end up being something that I’d be talking about, you know, all these years later with you and writing a book. It’s totally crazy.”

Baumgartner said he managed to get it done in one take, which was nerve-wracking because of just how high the stakes were. He recalled a set designer telling him “Brian, we only have three carpets” and how involved the costume changes were once he got very messy.

“I don’t think anyone understood how difficult a task it would be to clean me,” he said. “Like, my physical body. Like, my hands were stained that kind of browny reddy color.”

The funniest part of the interview involves some other Office alums, too. Baumgartner said he and two other actors, Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez, had an “accountant’s dinner” planned at a nice restaurant in Beverly Hills, but he really struggled to eat much of anything because of the work he put in on set.

“We’re sitting there and I pick up a shrimp or whatever and I pick it up and all I smell is chili,” he said. “Just, chili all over.”

Interestingly, he said one trick the production staff had to do to make the bit work involved something you may not expect. The pot, for one, wasn’t completely full of chili.

“The bottom half was styrofoam,” he said. “It was genius because it made it top-heavy. We did all these tests, we filled it with chili and there’s no way that it would flip out.”

Baumgartner and Eisen have a great rapport, so the interview itself was a delight. And it included a moment where Baumgartner got to give himself a pat on the chili-covered back, too

“That scene became improvised once I was on the floor,” he said, giving himself credit for thinking to scoop chili back into the pot with office paper. “I think that was me. And if not, I’m gonna take credit for it.”