Hell’s Kitchen

The Wife:

Hell’s Kitchen is over. Danny won. And I do not fucking care.

I knew Andrea wouldn’t make it to the final three, because she sucks, although I think as far as creativity in the creation of dishes is concerned, it was pretty clear from the pre-Andrea-ousting challenge in which Ramsay cribbed Top Chef and asked his protégés to cook 100 tasting portions of their own creation for the same number of L.A.’s finest chefs (only one of whom I recognized, which just means I don’t live in L.A.). The girls fared much better than Danny in this one, as Paula’s olive oil poached sturgeon was favored by the majority of diners, with Danny’s blackened halibut with fruit salsa and fennel-basmati rice salad ranking as least favorite by the same number. Andrea’s chicken roulade with jalapeno butter came in somewhere in the middle.

Sadly, I have no choice but to let one of you win.

Sadly, I have no choice but to let one of you win.

Because of her win, Paula was taken out for a day of pampering and allowed to appear alongside Ramsay on Good Day L.A. That night at service, Ramsay put each of his three hopefuls through his skills-at-the-pass test, and all did fairly well. Andrea was a bit too aggressive up there, though, totally dogging Chef Scott and goading him to threaten to kill her. I doubt that was why she was ousted; it was probably more that she was trying too hard to be Ramsay-like. And she’d consistently failed prior to this.

My favorite bit of HK is when the final two get to design their own fantasy restaurant within the HK space. This time, after they’d sussed out their initial concepts, Ramsay whisked Danny and Paula away to Atlantic City to do his traditional “cook off in front of your new boss” at the Borgata. Danny won said cook-off, while back in L.A. his girlfriend terrorized the good tastes of the interior decorator by insisting that banquets be done a certain way with high-backed chairs that would have obscured the wall art . . . cool waves . . . with tacky, tacky, tacky-ass fish attached to them. Meanwhile, Paula’s biggest trouble was that the fire marshal wouldn’t let her have real candles on the wall, so her sister and mother settled for battery-lit votives instead.

In looking at their two restaurant spaces, it’s clear to me that Paula’s was the one I’d rather eat in. She strangely decided to call the place Sunergy (although I can think of hundreds of better names to illustrate that concept . . . say . . . Photosynthesis . . . Synthesis . . . Soleil . . . Synergy . . . however the fuck you say sun in Portuguese, even), but the space itself was gorgeous. She chose lots of booths lined in a luminous silvery-yellow fabric and chose place settings and linens that made the place literally glow. It was a perfect execution of that strange, strange name. And then there was Danny, who ended up naming his tacky seafood joint Velvet Hammer, instead of the slightly classier Susan Marie (in honor of his mother). Name + fish on walls = makes no sense.

At service that night, Ramsay brought back Ben, Gio, Carol, Andrea, LA and Lacey to serve as each finalist’s battalion. Danny chose Ben, Gio and Carol, while Paula chose Andrea, LA and wound up with Lacey by default. Lacey didn’t fuck Paula over too badly, actually. That honor fell squarely on Andrea’s shoulders when she kept fucking up the halibut dish, while on Danny’s side of the kitchen, Gio repeatedly served up some salty sauce. Both teams finished strong, though, leaving Ramsay with the tough choice of picking one of two equally matched chefs to bestow his prize upon. Ultimately, it was Danny’s hand that turned the doorknob to executive chefdom, which is fine, because he’ll be cooking food that fits the vision of the hotel, and will have absolutely no control over the design of his dining room, lest the head honchos at the Borgata want to go bankrupt. Paula has excellent taste, and I’m sure she’ll get the capital to open her own restaurant very soon. Mostly because I want to sit in those shiny, shiny booths and bask in that Brazilian glow.

FOX just announced its Upfronts and it appears that we’ll be served up another helping of HK next summer, with some Kitchen Nightmares stored up in the vaults for whenever FOX needs to fill a hole in their schedule. Fine with me. I’d much rather watch Bones and Fringe on Thursdays, anyway, because I’ve completely stopped caring about this show.

The Wife:

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.)

Trying really hard not to totally fuck up.

Trying really hard not to totally fuck up.

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
Sadly, Madam, immunity means I cannot eliminate you and end my grief now.

Sadly, Madam, immunity means I cannot eliminate you and end my grief now.

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.

The Wife:

In the past three weeks, I’ve watched Hell’s Kitchen completely misunderstand the concept of tapas, remind America what tartar is (a dish, by the way, that’s been popular for about 20 years) and seen Gordon Ramsay turn the walk-in into his private office for yelling. Am I missing something or is this really the worst season yet? How have these contestants become less and less talented with each passing year, and why am I still bothering to watch this show? I’m not even enjoying it anymore. And it certainly doesn’t inspire me culinarily as say, Iron Chef America or Top Chef does. I would much rather spend my Gordon Ramsay time watching Kitchen Nightmares (both the US and UK versions), where he tries to help people make their businesses succeed through a little (or a lot) or tough love and harsh truth. I think that if Hell’s Kitchen gets a 6th season, I’m going to have to break up with it. I just can’t do it any longer. And I don’t think Ramsay can, either. Ramsay is a great chef and whenever I visit the menu pages of one of his restaurants, I am awed by the site design, the restaurant design and the menu design. He knows what he’s doing, so why is he dumbing himself down to entertain the plebs? The first two seasons of this show were great, and you could tell Ramsay was pleased to find new talent. But it’s clear he’s not finding that anymore, and I hate watching him pretend that he cares. It’s all just really sad, actually.

So, about those tapas . . .

Ramsay’s HK tapas are the biggest tapas plates I have ever seen, and I was not surprised to see that his re-envisioned tapas menu at HK was actually no different than the normal menu, just served on smaller plates. I know Ramsay knows what tapas portions should look like, so why pretend that HK was serving proper tapas when it wasn’t?  I just can’t imagine Beef Wellington in such large portions as a tapas dish. Mini Wellies, sure, as those are a stalwart passed hors d’oeuvre at many a wedding, but the portions he was serving? I also don’t understand the point of serving the same old shit Ramsay usually serves when he’s allegedly creating a tapas-style menu. Tapas are designed to be shared easily. You know what’s not easy to share? Lobster spaghetti and risotto. Seeing those things attempting to be tapas reminds me of a dining experience at an SF tapas joint where my friend Sarah ordered a lambburger, which the restaurateurs insisted was shareable. Uh, yeah, guys . . . if it were lambburger sliders, perhaps!

Seriously, just look at the size of this Wellington!

Seriously, just look at the size of this Wellington!

But none of that matters anyway, and it doesn’t matter what dishes Ramsay made the contestants create out of leftovers from the walk-in under the guise of testing their creativity and so on because the only important thing to know about this episode is that Lacey is insane. Because the Blue Team lost the tapas challenge (as Gio was switched the Red to even out the teams), they had to prep both kitchen for that evening’s dinner service while the Red Team enjoyed a day at the races. Lacey has never, ever worked so hard in her life and spent the whole day complaining about having to do work, eventually mouthing off and threatening to quit until Ben found her and calmed her down . . . again. But during service, Lacey wasn’t the problem, it was J, who screwed up in so many ways that I didn’t even bother to write them down. He received the first of Ramsay’s Walk-In Talks and was thrown out of the competition in the middle of service when he screwed up after Ramsay had that private chat with him.

And because J left, Ramsay gave everyone a pass to cook again in the next episode, which is a good decision, as he was strangely ready to eliminate Ben over Lacey.

The Omniscient Narrator then went on to explain what a tartar preparation was, as though someone who might watch a cooking-related show had never heard the term before. Perhaps he should have said it for the benefit of the contestants, though, who are all too dumb to discern the difference between steak and tuna (what?) and scallop and sea bass (wicka-wha-wha?). Really? Really, contestants? Really? So, you guys are telling me that, based on sight, you cannot tell the difference between a thick, textured steak and a smooth, cool tuna, one of which is distinctly opaque red and one of which is distinctly translucent red-pink? And you’re really telling me that BASED ON TASTE you cannot tell the difference between those two critters, which, in fact, TASTE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT? And you’re telling me that when you put a thick, chewy scallop in your mouth, it tastes EXACTLY THE SAME TO YOU as a flaky, tender sea bass? DO I NEED TO TELL YOU HOW FUCKING RETARDED YOU ARE WHEN A VEGETARIAN IS LECTURING YOU ON HOW MEATS TASTE????? DO I????? Really, ya’ll? Really?

Well, apparently I don’t need to tell them how stupid they are, because Ramsay went ahead and proved it by putting the contestants through a blind taste test, in which they were paired off against one another and fed little cubes of foodstuffs and asked to identify them. Now, even someone with a pretty good palate would find this hard, as many a food writer will tell you to eat first with your eyes. Or, as Robert so eloquently put it:

“I’m not Helen Keller, bro. I’m not deaf and blind. I cook with all my senses.” – Robert

This pearl of wisdom from a man who can’t tell the difference between a scallop and sea bass. The winners of this challenge (The Red Team) won a photoshoot for that most illustrious of magazines, TV Guide, while the losers had to not only serve lunch to those working on the shoot, but had to prep both kitchens as well. The weakness of everyone’s palates was pretty equal, though, so the Red Team barely scraped by in correctly naming one more ingredient to Ramsay’s minestrone soup than the Blue Team did. That scale tipping ingredient, by the way, was celery. I was shocked to hear that no one mentioned the most obvious component in minestrone: tomatoes. Another thing no one mentioned that’s always in minestrone? Pasta. What. The. Fuck.

Even these chefs are aware that TV Guide is irrelvant: why does TV Guide not know this?

Even these chefs are aware that TV Guide is irrelevant: why does TV Guide not know this?

At service that night, Eric McCormack and Robert Patrick dined at HK, and I don’t think the producers could have found a stranger pairing. That’s right: The T-1000/Agent John Doggett, dining with Will Truman. Someone needs to start writing that super-gay slash fiction right now. (Sigh. I bet it already exists . . .)

Lacey later receives the same fate that J suffered the night before, getting called into Ramsay’s Walk-In Office and told that if she made one more mistake, she’d be gone. And lo, it came to pass as it was ordained. Finally, Lacey got the fuck off my television. And without her, the Blue kitchen managed to finish service (as the Red kitchen did the previous night). The red team proceeded to nominate LA and Carol, then everyone mutinied on Andrea, and Ramsay still sent LA packing. I guess because she was boring? Who knows.

With only 7 contestants left to berate, Ramsay then challenge them to “elevate” a protein, by which I mean he gave them crabs. He asked them all to make one crab dish from an Alaskan King Crab* and each team would then vote on which of their dishes would be presented to King Ramsay. The Red Team, for some reason, chose Andrea’s totally 80s presentation of some macadamia-nut crushed king crab legs, in their shells, which Ramsay promptly fought off the meaty bits and handed to Andrea, suggesting she make earrings from them. The Blue Team chose Ben’s crab in sirracchia sauce and vanilla butter, which Ramsay also disliked because he found Ben’s over-explanation of the dish incongruous with the simple plate presented before him. Ramsay then asked the teams to present their second choices, as their weak palates had led them astray on their first choices. Paula presented a Thai-inspired crab dish in a basil-coconut broth, which Ramsay liked, and Danny the Gator Slayer presented a Spanish-style madiera burre blanc poached crab leg, which Ramsay liked slightly better, meaning that the Blue Team got to spend a day riding Segways in Santa Monica while the Red Team had to prep both kitchens and clean the apartment. (By the way, Robert is too obese to ride a Segway. Just FYI.)

For service, Ramsay let the teams create their own menus featuring 3 apps, 3 entrees, 3 desserts and a crab special. Strangely, it seems all of the contestants had similar ideas, as each menu ended up featuring a carpaccio app, a steak entree and some fancy schmancy French potatoes that the producers (and Robert) wasted no time in making fun of. Look, Robert and Danny the Gator Slayer, if you guys are perfectly happy working the line with no formal training, that’s fine. But don’t make fun of someone who spent the money to go to cooking school so that he could learn about classical French techniques such as pommes fondant. You are, however, allowed to make fun of him for making pommes fondant incorrectly. That’s perfectly fine. Ben, however, was able to recover from cooking his fancy French taters incorrectly, but Carol wasn’t. Her dish, which was basically scalloped potatoes, should have been cooked before service and then reheated so that it was easily accessible as a garnish. But instead, she tried to cook each tray to order, which didn’t work because the potatoes didn’t cook, and thus she lost them entirely and had to come up with a new potato side. Quick thinking Gio offered to pan-sauté some spuds.

Frustrated, Ramsay shuts down service and reveals that the Red Team won by being rated at 54% “above average” by that evening’s customers, whereas the Blue Team was only 39% “above average.” Man, if “above average” is all you’re shooting for, I will never, ever eat at the Borgata where these poor souls end up working if they win. I can cook food that’s “above average;” I dine out to eat food that’s “excellent.” As Dan was the only member of the Blue team that didn’t suck, he was asked to nominate one person. He chooses Ben, whom Ramsay had actually accused of sabotage during on of his Walk-In Talks, but Ramsay decides Carol fucked up worse and sends her home, which is great, because I was getting sick of her stupid scrunchies.

What that former hair-stylist does to her hair is way worse than those uncooked potatoes ever could have been.

*I am assuming it was a King Crab of the Alaskan variety, but HK made no claims about the Crab’s affiliations with the Palin camp.

The Wife:

For the past two weeks, Hell’s Kitchen has desperately tried to spice up its tired recipe by giving the contestants challenges loosely based on ethnic cuisines. In the first episode, Ramsay forced his minions to try their hand at Asian-fusion. Each team was instructed to make a three-course meal, one featuring poultry, one featuring fish and one featuring beef and present them head to head for the Editor-in-Chief of Epicurious.com, on which the winning team’s recipes would be featured.

Wow, HK. As much as I like Epicurious.com, that prize is on par with letting the ANTM models have a shoot for CoverGirl on WalMart.com. And fusion? Really? This isn’t to say I dislike Asian-fusion it’s just kind of . . . not really in vogue anymore. It’s such an early 2000s kind of deal.

For the poultry course, Carol and Coi created a pomegranate chicken dish, served against Robert and Danny’s BBQ chicken pad thai, the latter of which was chosen as the winner for that round. For the fish course, Paula and LA served a tempura tuna comfit against Ben and Lacy’s pan-seared scallops with urchin and caviar. The tuna comfit won. Finally, for the beef course, Andrea and Colleen served a kobe beef sashimi with a Korean-style sauce against J and Giovanni’s pizziaola-style beef. The sashimi dish won, and the girls were rewarded with a day of watching JP and Ramsay sumo wrestle one another in giant sumo costumes, followed by a couple of hours of the ladies sumo wrestling one another and some sake tasting. Meanwhile, the blue team was forced to spend the afternoon decorating the restaurant with little origami paper cranes, a task during which new teammate Lacy proved herself to be actually quite useful. Perhaps Lacy should consider going into some kind of craft business? One that doesn’t involve cooking anything? Ever? At all?

At that night’s service, Ramsay announced that he liked Paula’s tuna tempura so much that he added it to the menu for that evening, but other than that, it seemed like the only attempt to keep up the fusion theme came from inviting a couple of sumo wrestlers to dinner that night and allowing them to order one of everything on the menu, thus delaying the kitchens a bit. Gio makes good risotto, and I should hope so because his name is Giovanni, while Andrea fucks up a bunch of Wellingtons and has the audacity to hide them from Ramsay. Gordon Ramsay doesn’t like it when you hide things from him; take note of that. He also throws Robert out of the kitchen for being unresponsive, when, in fairness to Robert, Ramsay insisted upon calling him something that is not his name. Bobby is what the big lug’s deadbeat dad was called, and Robert is intentionally always Robert to distance himself from that man. After service, Robert spoke to Ramsay about this and Ramsay apologized, which I guess means Ramsay’s new pet name for Robert will have to be Big Boy. The final straw for the evening, though, was Colleen sending out a raw pear pastry, unaware that it was, in fact, raw.

The red team nominated Andrea, largely because they don’t really like her, while the blue team nominated J. Ramsay sent J home, and also booted Colleen, because serving a raw dessert deserves to be punished.

Seriously, Colleen, no one likes you. Go home.

Seriously, Colleen, no one likes you. Go home.

The second ethnic food-themed episode was even more out of vogue than the fusion challenge, although as an overall concept, this very special bar mitzvah episode was way more fun to watch. As with any catering-related challenge, Ramsay first asked the contestants to prepare three upscale dishes based on the bar mitzvah boy’s favorite foodstuffs: burgers, his bubbe’s brisket and chicken soup. Max himself, along with his mother and his absolutely fabulous bubbe would judge each team’s offerings and choose which dishes they wanted to serve at his party. Ben, who did not let a moment go by where he didn’t remind us that he’s a Jew, was very excited for this challenge, hoping to use his knowledge of his own bubbe’s cooking to propel his team to victory. Carol, on the other hand, tried to make her burgers a little too upscale by stuffing them with bleu cheese.

Um, what? Excuse me? What?

First of all, while bleu cheese is no gorgonzola (that’s a very strong cheese; a waiter in Vegas warned Magen about it once, because apparently many Vegas tourists have never had delicious cheeses before?), it’s still quite a strong cheese to serve to a child. She’d have been better off if she’d stuffed it with aged Irish cheddar. But even then . . . why would you even take the risk of serving a cheese-stuffed meat patty to a Jew? For his bar mitzvah? A rabbi cannot bless that abominable combination of beef and cheese cooked in the same oven. Not Kosher! No rules were stated about keeping the meal Kosher and I was surprised that Max’s family didn’t even bat an eye in regards to the cheese-stuffed meat. Surely, they have some friends attending that party who keep Kosher, even if they do not. It was just so odd to me that the thought of keeping Kosher wasn’t even an issue here, nor did it cross any of the chefs minds to mention to Carol that, regardless of Max’s cheese preferences, serving something that is definitely not Kosher at a Jewish party might not be the brightest of ideas.

I operate under the general assumption that when you cook food, you also learn about the cultures whence that food comes. Thus, if you’re making matzo ball soup, you’re learning about Jewish culture. How did brisket and burgers and chicken soup not make them think Kosher? I bet if Ramsay had asked them to cater a Hindu wedding, they’d have wantonly started creating beef curries without any regard to the sacredness of cows.

I guess it doesn’t really matter, though, because Max hated that bleu cheese burger and picked Robert’s much more manly (and more simple!) burger instead. He also chose Gio’s traditional chicken soup with rice balls (did they not have matzo?) over Andrea’s fancier spring chicken and pea shoot version and, sadly, LA’s brisket with cherry BBQ sauce over Ben’s just-like-bubbe-makes-it version. For once, having an intimate knowledge of chicken schmaltz did not win the day.

Because two of their dishes were chosen, the blue team got to spend the day at a spa, while the red team had to help JP and his mortal enemy gay-party-planner-Francisco prepare the dining room for Max’s sports-themed party. Just how gay is Francisco?

“I’m gay; That dude is parade gay.” – LA

And why, oh, why, couldn’t Max have had a Ska Mitzvah????

Service that night went pretty well, even with the girls having to leave the kitchen to lift Max’s chair during the Horah, after which point Paula uttered:

“This is probably the last time this will ever happen to him.”

Uh, I guess that’s true as far as bar mitzvahs are concerned, but when he gets married, he’s going to be lifted in the air again when they do the Horah at his wedding. Although, she’s right that being hoisted in the air by lady cooks probably won’t happen again. I certainly hope it won’t.

Francisco dropped Max’s special cake, so the kitchens had to run with house desserts only, but no one seemed to mind. Good bar mitzvah, Hell’s Kitchen! Even the Harlem Globetrotters took time off from solving the physics problems that plague the universe to drop by and give the bar mitzvah boy a basketball jersey and a lesson in awesomeness.

No mystery of the universe is quite as important as a boy becoming a man.

No mystery of the universe is quite as important as a boy becoming a man.

Ramsay declared the blue team the winners, and Andrea, the alleged best of the worst, got to nominate two of her cohorts. She chose Coi and LA, both of whom agreed to turn on her in front of Ramsay and expose her as the weakest link. Ramsay didn’t buy into that, though, and sent Coi home.

Two great quotes from Robert from these two episodes:

  • “I make a gourmet meal out of Captain Crunch; I don’t even care.”
  • “You ain’t a man until you use a loofah. Straight up.”

The Wife:

A rare occurrence on HK, Ramsay challenged his teams to do two services in one day, starting with a breakfast service for a bunch of PeeWee footballers and cheerleaders in an effort to bolster each kitchen’s sense of teamwork. The Red Team got the most out of this challenge, managing to serve their diners first largely due to Seth’s complete incompetence. He willingly put himself on the egg station and then proceeded to carefully make each order of scrambled eggs to order, which his team chastised him for as he should have full well known that children are going to order scrambled eggs. On the Red Team, COlleen once again got distracted from cooking and became overly excited about the presence of cheerleaders, her people. She started cheering from the kitchen. Ramsay yelled at her. It was awesome.

This is just a bad idea waiting to happen.

This is just a bad idea waiting to happen.

As a reward for winning the breakfast service, Ramsay took the girls “Beverly Hills Camping,” meaning they got to tan and drink booze by the pool all day. In a case of the pot calling the kettle fat, Robert called out to Lacy to not wear a bikini, for the love of God, during her day at the pool. Really, Robert? You’re obese, can’t fly on helicopters and missed your wedding to be here, and you’re telling Lacy what she can and can’t wear to the pool? I hate the bitch, but I’m sure she knows she’s not a bikini kind of girl. I am offended on her behalf that he, of all people, would dare to chastise her about her weight.

For their punishment, the boys of HK had to clean the dining room, both kitchens and prep both kitchens for that evening’s service. During prep, Danny and Ben got into a pissing contest about which man is a better cook. Danny’s argument against Ben was strongly proven by Ben’s omission of tomato butter sauce for the Red kitchen that he should have made during prep. I doubt it is intentional sabotage, because Ramsay wouldn’t stand for that. I’m sure it’s just an idiotic oversight – one that Danny the Gator Slayer likely wouldn’t have made. Ben also went on to foul up properly slicing lamb chops, rendering them too thin to serve. Per Ramsay:

“How can someone so fat cut something so thin?”

Man, tons of fat jokes today. Ben is totally not as fat as either Lacy or Robert.

Frustrated with ineptitude, Ramsay declares no team the winner and sends both teams off to nominate two of their own. Coi, who couldn’t cook spaghetti tonight to save her life, volunteered to be put up for elimination, but her team overrode her vote and opted instead for weak links COlleen and Lacy. The Blue Team put up Seth the Village Idiot and Ben. After his usual interrogation, Ramsay decided to send Seth home, and sent Lacy over to the Blue Team, where Robert proceeded to make further remarks about her weight.

I will never understand why Robert thinks these remarks are okay, just like he will never understand the irony of it.

The Wife:

I enjoy making fun of 90210 so much that my posts on that show are called “9 Lame Things About This Week’s 90210.” I think Hell’s Kitchen‘s sole function is to make me extremely angry. I came home last night from a lovely dinner at Elizabeth Faulkner’s Orson to watch a bunch of so-called chefs call a slaughterhouse disgusting, bitch and moan about having to butcher meat and, furthermore, not be able to identify where the fuck brisket comes from? I came home for that?! FOR THAT???????

These posts are now going to become: “The Wife Gets Angry About Angry Kitten.”

Really, “chefs?” Really? You walk into a slaughterhouse and are horrified by what you see before you? That’s where the meat you eat every fucking day comes from unless you’re purchasing your shit directly from a fucking farm where they butcher it themselves on site. (See Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.) And if you think that slaughterhouse was disgusting, you don’t want to see others, because Ramsay took you to a nice one. In fact, he only took you to the part where the beeves were being cleaned and portioned which is the least horrifying part. I cannot believe that you purport yourselves to be chefs when you seem to be so thoroughly distressed by the sight of where your food fucking comes from. I hate you all.

And given your reaction to seeing where the fuck your meat comes from, I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised at how many of your failed Ramsay’s challenge. All he asked you to do was identify cuts of meat, which were somehow less grotesque to you on a plate instead of, you know, ON THE THING IT CAME FROM, and then show him where those cuts of meat came from on a cow. The boys managed to win this by providing the first person who could correctly identify all eight locations, although it was not Giovanni, the dude from the steakhouse, who scored this win. I think it was Ben, but I was too angered by failure to remember. I learned nothing new by watching this, as it only enhanced my suspicion that these people are dumb fucks. Really, Lacey? You honestly think NY Strip comes from the shoulder of a cow? Because I’m a vegetarian and even I know that’s not where NY Strip comes from. She got 6 out of 8 wrong, and Seth, that boy genius from the blue team, got 7 out 8 wrong. Many others fell within that range of failure, although there were some bright spots who only mislabeled two or three cuts, which is almost acceptable. But only almost. Why? Because if you are in the culinary industry, you should be able to identify where cuts of beef come from. Have none of these people been to culinary school? Honestly? Jesus fucking Christ these people are an abomination.

Because the boys narrowly won the meat-identification challenge, they were rewarded with a trip up to the Santa Ynez Valley for some steak’ums and wine tasting at Sunstone Vineyards, a winery I never once wrote about back when I was working at an industry rag in Santa Barbara. The women, on the other hand, were “punished” by being given a chance to improve their butchery skills by properly preparing cuts for that night’s dinner service. While this should have been an opportunity for them to learn more, they took it as a chance to bitch and moan, whining that they’ve never butchered a cow in their lives and that hauling the beeves off the meat truck was like hauling a dead body. Really, ladies? Because the last time I checked, a side of beef IS A DEAD BODY! I understand that not many chefs actually butcher their own meat, preferring, for ease of preparation, to buy their cuts from a butcher. That aside, you should still know how to break down an animal. Honestly, if you’re going to cook in a professional kitchen, I expect that you know how to fillet fish and break down poultry and butcher rabbits and cows. This is what I expect because I’m eating at your restaurant because I CANNOT DO THOSE THINGS. Thus, I expect you, the chef, to be able to do them for me.

Ramsay let the ladies have a little lunch break, where he once again forced a losing team to dine on the nasty bits of a cow. Watching all of these women cry and spit out their tongue and stomach bits into a barf bag only made me angrier. Look, I’m not saying you have to like the nasty bits, but I am saying that you need to understand the history of fine cooking. Long ago, these nasty bits were considered unusable and fed to the poor, so they had to find ways to make them taste edible. As the aristocracy fell away in, say, France, peasant dishes from the country became en vogue, so, suddenly, wealthy people started enjoying eating their nasty bits, meaning things like sweetbreads and tripe suddenly became foods for people with money – and because they are well-prepared and adept at rendering nasty things into culinary bliss, these things are often some of the most expensive things on the menu at fine dining establishments with an old world bent. Ramsay just throws this stuff on the table barely cooked, though, so I can understand how unappetizing it must be in its more raw forms. However, if you cooked anything on that tray up like a good chef would (and with the proper amount of cream), it would be divine. Most importantly, he’s making you eat these things for a reason: because eating them and knowing what they taste like will make you a better chef. Ramsay may be a dickmeat at times, but he knows what he’s doing.

Giovanni, continuing to fail.

Giovanni, continuing to fail.

For dinner service, Ramsay turned Hell’s Kitchen into a steak house, breaking it up into two dinner seatings during which one team would cook and one team would serve. Everyone suddenly became suspicious of sabotage from whichever team was running the floor, but I present that their paranoia is unfounded because everyone on this show is too stupid to even figure out how to sabotage the cooking team’s service. During the boys’ turn at cooking, Giovanni, the steakhouse chef, misfired steak after steak, making me question why the fuck he works in a steakhouse if he can’t fire a damn steak properly. On top of that, Seth, the boy genius, totally butchered his job at butchering a strip steak, which caused Gordon Ramsay to toss about 3 pounds of wasted meat at him, in a hilarious display of anger that I will remember forever. Because of this, Ramsay shut down the blue team’s service before they could feed all their diners, which is fine by me. The girls did marginally better, serving more entrees than the guys and therefore winning.

On the service side of things, Charlie for some reason decided that some patrons would want bacon in their water (how thoughtful of him!), and that got him sent home of dumb fuck Seth, who, like Lacey and COlleen, I cannot believe has survived this long. Ramsay, during service, noting COlleen’s inability to remember a proper count for salads, observed, in the understatement of the year, that, “She’s not normal.” I had hoped Seth might go home so I could make a joke about extispicium, prophecy by looking at spilled entrails, but I guess sometimes even ancient meat-spilling prophecies are wrong.

God, I hate these people.

The Wife:

I like Top Chef because its about cooking, and I like Hell’s Kitchen because its about running a restaurant. But there’s something about Hell’s Kitchen (which in my house is called Angry Kitten) that just hasn’t felt right for me since season three and I think it’s this: the show stopped hiring people who could actually cook well on a line, thus rendering the premise and, ultimately, the final prize completely moot. Season four of this show was filled with idiots who had no idea how to work in a professional kitchen. Or, more accurately, the professional kitchen of a fine dining establishment. How should any of those people have been expected to take the reigns of a Ramsay-run establishment? Even the eventual winner, Cristina, who had not yet finished culinary school, had her prize modified to suit her skills. She won a job, yes, but not as executive chef. The people cast on this show are simply never up to the standards Ramsay would require.

I really miss the days of the first two seasons, where actual chefs who had talent and vision competed for restaurant jobs. The only person I know from this show who has gone on to have a modicum of success is first season winner (and my favorite HK chef so far) Michael, who worked alongside Ramsay in England for awhile (the prize he was offered instead of heading up a Ramsay restaurant) before moving back to L.A. with his lovely bride Lola to open up Tatu, his L.A. eatery. He used his show winnings to actually get him to a place he wanted to be, not trapped in a contract at a hotel with no guarantee of creativity or success. But then again, every winner after Michael has seemed to be lacking in the creativity arena, so maybe a hotel job is just what they’d need.

In any case, I was surprised to see that this year the show was touting actual chefs, and then once again disappointed to see the standard amount cooking instructors and catering event managers. This is not to say that those people don’t know how to cook, but merely that they have no business working in a restaurant. And boy, has that ever turned out to be true, specifically in regards to those two contestants, Colleen (who insists that her name be pronounced COH-lean instead of CAH-lean, which is irritating because she clearly doesn’t understand vowel reduction), the cooking instructor who actually had no clue about culinary techniques at all and Lacey, the corporate buffet chef who couldn’t work on a line to save her life. But, if their signature dishes in the first episode were any indication, I doubt they can cook, either. Ramsay spit out both of their dishes, a raspberry chicken from Lacey and some kind of attempt at a wrap or enchilada from COlleen. I hate these women. And I hate that neither of them went home in the first two episodes.



I also hate that Lacey thinks she’s the pretty one, because she’s not. Even on her best of days, I think her dreadful personality would instantly detract from any kind of beauty that could be assembled out of that oddly proportioned face. Wow, I’m usually not this mean-spirited. I must really, really hate the bitch. All she has done so far is wine and complain about actually having to work, constantly seeking help from others on the line when she was given the easiest station of all: desserts. Dude, just run the ice cream machine and take things out of the freezer. It’s not like Ramsay asked you to be a pastry chef for the day. He just wants you to PUT THINGS ON PLATES. Oh, and another problem I have with her? She eats Hot Pockets. Come on, man. Those are only good for hurling at Michael Emerson when he shows up unexpectedly in your kitchen. And for giving you diarrhea.

As for the actual contests of the first two shows, I’m glad that the service in the house made all the difference to the customer’s during the first episode’s blackout. Carol totally did the right thing by comping some wine to keep the guests happy while they waited on the kitchen. Generally, the bar is where a restaurant makes most of its money, but if she hands out bottles of the cheapest wine in the house, the restaurant is only losing about $6 per table, instead of losing an entire night’s revenue from walk-outs. Because of Carol’s service, the girls won, where as rival waiter Giovanni did nothing but fumble around complaining about how he isn’t a waiter. I understand him not wanting to get kicked off for doing poorly at a job that isn’t his, but frankly, his inability to describe what polenta is makes me worry for his cooking ability. And his right to have such an Italian name. Who the fuck is named Giovanni and can’t tell you that polenta is boiled cornmeal that is either served soft or fried in cake-form? Because he lost, though, little gay Wil had to go home. He was cute, but L.A .over on the girls’ team is much cooler and possibly much more gay. She’s all that’s left of Team Rainbow now!

And speaking of Top Chef‘s Jamie Lauren, where was she for Ramsay’s scallop-diving challenge? Jamie would have killed at that scallop-shucking festival . . . stupid hardcore celery . . . I was once again disappointed with the caliber of chef on HK when nearly every single one of them bitched and moaned about how hard it was to shuck scallops and properly clean them. While it’s true that most seafood comes to restaurants pre-shucked, I’m sure these people have shucked a couple of oysters in their lives. Sure, shucking ain’t easy, but I honestly can’t believe that with all of their collective food industry experience, there would be those among them who had never shucked an oyster before. I mean, I know Danny the Gator Slayer from Florida definitely has, but surely L.A.’s own L.A. has worked with shellfish, right? Right?

The men edged out the ladies by a sole perfectly trimmed scallop and were rewarded with a day trip to Catalina, except for morbidly obese Robert who, weighing in at over 400 lbs, could not join Ramsay and the other gentlemen on the helicopter. However, Ramsay was nice enough to get him out to Catalina on a ferry . . . only to turn him right around for the return trip when he arrived. I mean, honestly, when you weigh that much, it’s not good for you. End of story. Still, it sucks to invite him out to spend the day with you only to deny him the actual fun part of the trip. I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way, but it’s like inviting someone to a party but intentionally telling them the wrong night so that they’ll be alone and humiliated.

At that night’s service, Ramsay picked Robert and Paula to run each team’s raw bar, which essentially consisted of plating various seafood items and bringing them to customers tableside. Robert thought his size would make this hard from him, but he actually was really well received in the dining room for being so congenial and having a cool tattoo. In the kitchen, however, things did not go so well. Freakin’ COlleen kept putting things in Ramsay’s dishes that weren’t meant to be there, and fucking up her orders so badly that even a dumb fuck like Lacey, who spent all day moping in bed rather than helping her team prep and virtually turning every single one of them against her in the process, had to show COlleen how to sear fish. Man, you’re in a bad state when Lacey is teaching you how to cook. That girl can’t even turn on an ice cream machine properly. Even with mistakes, though, both kitchens completed service, but the guys finished first, making them the victors.

Naturally, COlleen and Lacey were selected by their teammates as the weakest links in the kitchen chain gang, but then injured Ji wheeled herself forward to ask Ramsay if he would let her go home instead, considering how great the pain in her ankle had become after working through a full dinner service on it. Although she rocked that service hardcore, Ramsay let Ji go, and, sweetly, he let her keep her chef’s jacket, because he respects her that much. And I do, too. That girl could have been a contender.

Just you wait. Ill be back eventually.

Just you wait. I'll be back eventually.