Man, does Gordon Ramsay ever love to do a completely non-surprising fake-out. He did it in both of these episodes and I was totally not surprised!
1. He called forward the two weakest chefs and asked them to hand over their jackets . . . . because there’s just one big ol’ team for the final six now! Whee! If only he were Tyra so sad bits of confetti would fall from the ceiling and Nigel would half-assedly shake a maraca . . .
2. After a terrible dinner service, he announced that he was going to, for the first time ever, SHUT IT DOWN! Nah, just kidding! By “shut it down,” he meant close HK for a day to ship everyone off to the Borgata to see the perks of the hotel that they’re never going to see or use while they slave away in a restaurant kitchen for 80+ hours a week. Inspiration!
Did that surprise anyone? Except maybe the contestants, because they were told to look surprised by the producers, or they are genuinely as dumb as I think they are and have never bothered to TiVo the show?
Anyway, in the first of these two wholly unique and surprising episodes, Ramsay asked the all-new black team to prepare a unique dish out of 14 ingredients. It doesn’t matter what those ingredients were because, to me, it appeared that practically everyone made the same damn dish.
- Andrea: rosemary chicken skewers over pasta
- Gio: pasta pomodoro with stuffed chicken
- Paula: I didn’t even write this down, but it looked like everything else so far
- Robert: the least chicken cacciatore-like chicken cacciatore I have ever seen (because last time I checked, it was a stew, not a pasta dish)
- Danny: oven-roasted chicken with rosemary and some pasta
- Ben: whatever the fuck this was, it was the best looking of all of these dishes
My problem with these dishes was mainly that even though pasta was an ingredient, it looked like none of the contestants actually integrated it into their dish. Like it was always an afterthought. But Ben! Ben plated that dish as though the pasta and the chicken drumsticks were meant to go together, not like it was something thrown together in the backroom of an Applebee’s when a vegetarian asks for something to eat. (Were you aware that Applebee’s salads come with meat, as opposed to being something you add meat to? On second though, don’t even get me started on Applebee’s.)
Ben won, and was rewarded with a culinary trip to San Francisco (!) for which he brought Robert along. By “culinary trip,” of course, that means riding around on a cable car all day and dining at One Market, a totally nice restaurant that’s a bit classic French in its sensibilities. I had some amazing pureed golden lentil soup there that they plated fucking tableside (who fucking tablesides a soup, man?) and a wild mushroom pie, also plated tableside. There was also an amazing Chardonnay there that my friend totally fell in love with. It’s Trione Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2005, and he describes it as “crème brulée in a glass.” This is all fine – but I wonder how riding around in a cable car all day can constitute a “culinary trip.” Shouldn’t there have been a journey to Pier 1, where there is an amazing food market? (Curtis Stone has picked up ladies there for Take Home Chef.) Maybe a trip to get some clam chowder out of a sourdough bread bowl? Perhaps some Ghirardelli chocolates? I would have loved to see some more of this marvelous foodie city on HK, but I guess Top Chef already beat them to doing, oh, everything awesome.
While Ben and Robert were eating at the chef’s table in One Market, the losers had to deal with running in deliveries during prep time, and Gio pissed everybody off by being lazy as shit. There was some argument about being short two lobsters, which, after Gio ran down the delivery truck, it turned out that wasn’t the case at all. During service, Gio’s laziness continued as he served up lots of raw, bloody chicken prompting nary a “EWW COULD HAVE KEEEEEEEEEELED SOMEONE, EWW DONKAY!” from Ramsay. Instead, Ramsay called him a fuckface, which Gio insisted he was not. Listen, bro, if Ramsay calls you a fuckface, you are indeed a fuckface. Fuckface. And after putting a hot pan in the refrigerator, which subsequently burned Robert, Fuckface Gio was asked to give Ramsay his jacket and get his fuckface out of Hell’s Kitchen.
Then, to no one’s surprise, Ramsay did that “shutting it down” thing and sent everyone off to Atlantic City for a taste of the good life . . . that they’ll never actually have when they’re working really, really hard running their own restaurant. Robert spent most of his time ogling the Borgata Babes, which I’m sure his wife really appreciated it, considering they didn’t actually get married because he skipped his fucking wedding to be on this how. Robert’s girlfriend, whoever you are, you sure picked a winner. I can’t make fun of him too much, though as I do have a lot of sympathy for the mystery health crisis he underwent shortly after ogling those girls and swimming around in the Borgata pool. While everyone else sat down with Borgata execs for dinner and practical questions about the management of the restaurant they were all poised to win, Robert excused himself and sought medical attention for chest pains. He eventually was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation in the fluid sacs around the heart that could really fuck him up down the line. Robert returned to L.A. a couple of days after the rest of the crew and revealed his condition to them, along with the fact that, for the benefit of his health, he’d be leaving the competition. Dude was generally a great line cook, but the 400 pounds he’s carrying on his frame certainly can’t be good for that heart condition. If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll go back to working wherever he was working, marry the woman who loves him despite the fact that he openly ogled other women on national television and get healthy, probably by shedding around 150 pounds, if he can.
With Robert gone, the remaining four chefs were asked to prepare their signature dish, the best of which would win a guaranteed spot in the final three.
- Danny the Gator Slayer: pan-seared sea scallops in a grapefruit and champagne coulis, by far the prettiest plate of the bunch
- Andrea: green-tea crusted tuna on a rice cake
- Paula: smoked salmon ceviche
- Ben: pan-roasted tiger prawns, on a plate that I thought was incredibly busy but Ramsay seemed to love, which was only ameliorated by the fact that he thought it was the least tasty of the four
Andrea was awarded immunity, which irked Ben and Danny because her dish consisted of raw fish and cooked rice, and proceeded to totally squander it by fucking up severely during dinner service. Her fuck ups were only rivaled by Ben’s, who got thrown out of service by Ramsay. In the end, no one went home, as Andrea should have, but Ramsay is a man of his word, even if that word is “donkey.” At this point, I think the only person who can really win is Paula, who has miraculously shown the least personality throughout this competition and, subsequently, has made the fewest mistakes. Gator Slayer Danny will make a nice runner-up to her, no? He’d never be happy in Atlantic City, anyway. There are no gators to slay, only the palates of the elderly.