Jun 5, 2007

Hell's Kitchen: Welcome to Cooking Hell

Three cooking shows playing out at the same time? Be still my beating heart. I am verklempt! In merry olde England they call Gordon Ramsay's show The F-Word . In puritanical America we call it Hell's Kitchen. In a recent interview, Gordon said he was looking for someone with immense natural talent and passion. His way of going about searching for a chef is both hilarious and intimidating, and last night's show delivered in both departments. Of course, if you don't like bullies and you melt at the tender sight of a puppy sleeping, then Chef Ramsay might seem a tad out of line to you.

The contestants arrive and are asked to prepare their signature dish with this welcoming phrase, "Now stop staring at me and get into that kitchen." The insults begin almost immediately as Chef Ramsey tasted twelve dishes and demolished ten egos at the same time. He found only two that were worthy of faint praise, one of them being Melissa's, whose smug smile grated on me.

Quaking in line, cute little blond Bonnie said she was gonna pee in her pants. Chef Ramsey pounced on her entirely forgettable cheese dish, and asked, "Are you new at this?" "Yes," she replied. "I can see that," he said, before moving on.

My favorite character on first impression was Aaron, a short, dumpy Asian chef wearing a cowboy hat and boots. Chef Ramsay greeted him with, "Where is your horse, cowboy?" At this point I began to rub my hands together with glee. I haven't had this much fun watching a show since the Top Chef 2 finale.

The contestants are then informed they will work in two teams: The female chefs comprised the red team and the male chefs made up the blue team. The chefs are then shown to their apartment. In my opinion, these digs are way nicer than the Carriage House that the chefs from the Food Network are stuck with. In fact, the prize is way nicer too. The Food Network chef merely gets a cooking show for a number of weeks. The Hell's Kitchen winner gets his or her own restaurant in Vegas, a quarter of a million dollar salary AND a stake in the restaurant. Both the previous Hell's Kitchen winners are still Top Chefs in the restaurants they won, so I would say the stakes are extremely high in this show, and worth going through a few weeks of agony.

Back to the show. To sum up the last half of the show quickly, both teams suck. Chef Ramsay kept up such tough pressure, pouncing on the slightest mistakes, refusing to send substandard food to customers, that all the chefs were running around like chickens with no heads. The restaurant is awesome, by the way. No expense was spared on its design.

The blue team eventually began to work together, getting their appetizers out after an hour. Aaron the Asian Cowboy, lost his cool several times, and the camera caught him weeping and trembling like a girlie girl. At one point Chef Ramsey tasted a dish, screwed up his face, and said, "It tastes like ant's piss."

I ROFLed. What a priceless t.v. moment.

The red team never got its act together. None of the women could work together. Tifanny, who kept flubbing the quail eggs by breaking the yolks, refused Julia's help over and over. Joanna got on my nerves too. She couldn't put her money where her mouth was, yet she also snubbed Julia. In fact, all the women treated Julia, who earned her credentials as a short order cook, like a scullery maid. Look, ladies, you know she's not going to last. Why not be nice to her?

Later on Tifanny revealed her reason for cutting Julia off at every turn: "She works at the Waffle House. C'mon!" At that moment, I said to myself, "Bitch has got to go."

The blue team won, natch, but not before Aaron walked off the line and collapsed in a trembling heap on the kitchen floor. Drama. DRAMA. DRAAMAAA!

Over at the red team, Chef Ramsay elected Melissa to choose two candidates to be eliminated. At this point, Melissa, whose smug smile really put me out of sorts, looked as frazzled as the rest of the women. However, she did show some leadership, which earned her no respect from her team mates. By being put in this position, she'll make one enemy for sure.

Melissa chose Joanne and Tifanny to stand on the chopping block. Chef Ramsay, who is no fool, cuts Tifanny, saying, "She has passion and a great work ethic, but that's it. Nothing else." I jumped up and down for joy, saying YESSSSS. At this point I became a huge fan.

Chef Ramsay looking over the remaining contestants, concluded, "One of you is gonna run a restaurant; yet all of you are wimping around."

As the show ended, we heard from some of the contestants in on-camera interviews: Twentytwo-year-old Joanna declared that she doesn’t care who she is going to f-ck over; Bonnie felt lucky; and Aaron felt like he whimped out.

Haahaa haa. Teeheee heee. This show is a hoot. Mean spirited. But a hoot. And I'm definitely tuning in next week. And the next. And the next...


Big Fella said...

Totally agree, it is a hoot. My comments on a thread on Chowhound.com this morning:

Agree with others, it seems the "casting" deliberately has some people with real experience, and then other people that may be marginal in terms of super star chef material, but good for dramatic elements. (This show is not about a real contest and not about culinary art, it is just entertainment for the masses, so we should not be suprised by anything that is bogus or over the top drama wise.)

It was kind of amusing that right after Gordon assigned the teams, the women went off and someone on that team said, in effect, let's not backstab each other, lets all work together to get rid of all of the men before the backstabbing begins. Then what do they do right out of the gate? Start backstabbing and everyone seems to decide that the Waffle House girl is beneath them and ignores her, sending a message to her that she is lower than shit to them. Then what happens, none of the "Alpha" women can fry a fricking egg decently, and in the end, the Waffle House girl, who is the only professional egg fryer in the house has to save their asses. Great drama, the girl who just wants to be a part of the team and learn from the experience vs the backstabbing bad girls.

I am chalking up this show to just some amusing entertainment, there might be a couple of cast members who might have some culinary talent, but that is not the reason they are there.

Ms. Place said...

Am gonna have to join Chowhound and join in on the discussion. Your observations about the contestants is spot on. Thanks for contributing, Big Fella. And I agree with your assessment entirely.