Aug 25, 2007

Hell's Kitchen: Now That the Debacle is Over, You and Others Can Weigh In

A.E. wrote to ask me these questions regarding Hell's Kitchen. I shall answer them as best I can in my comment section, but please feel free to weigh in and give your opinions as well. Meanwhile, I have provided links to articles and other blogs that address A.E.'s concerns. The best summary of this show was written by Anthony Bourdain on Ruhlman's blog a few months back and there is very little I would change about his opinion.

After seeing your posts of Hell's Kitchen, which I could not stop watching despite my usual hate for reality shows, I did have some inquiries. I think shows along the lines of American Idol and Survivor need to be outlawed altogether, so it's rather odd how I along with many others managed to find HK as addicting as I did, but whatever.
Yeah, you and I weren't the only ones, A.E. This show was a hit, as this article in USA Today attests.

I was curious, what did you think of how the show was organized? Did you find Gordon to be really that over the top and excessive? I've heard he's quite tame compared to most other French and English top chefs, and a pacifist compared to his early restaurant days.

Here's one blogger's take on the show, and it isn't pretty.

I find that the Chowhound boards are the most insightful.

And Television Without Pity provides good recaps, however, I liked the premise of the show. I think most restaurants behind the scenes are pressure cookers and chefs have to work as teams, or else the cooking won't get done.

Also, what did you think of the casting job? I think the one major let down was that Fox apparently flat out can't cast worth shit. Hence we were left with so many ridiculously under qualified contestants that their only real value was clearly to be shot down by Gordon in a sadistic sort of experiment. In some cases in season 3, the contestants were put on and allowed to last as long as they did solely so that viewers can enjoy watching their failures: seeing someone eliminated mid-service (Josh) or in some cases even trying to push forward negative stereotypes of those like Asians and disabled people (Aaron and Eddie).

This article answered the question: Are Hell's Kitchen contestants hired actors? But, yeah, I felt that Fox's casting sucks. One really questioned how qualified these contestants were, whereas Top Chef actually casts good cooks.

The only contestants I imagine could ever genuinely see being able to get to the point where they can run a top level restaurant are:

Season 1: Ralph who from what i've heard actually did pretty well for himself on
Iron Chef against Bobby Flay, though like virtually everyone else he did end up losing, and Michael.

Season 2: Heather, Virginia if she could learn not to crack like an egg, and Keith if he underwent a substantial attitude adjustment and REALLY understood his potential.

Season 3: Rock-NO, I don't believe all the crap about how he won solely cos he's black, Bonnie, Julia if she got more experience at places other than Waffle House and possibly Brad.

See the comment section for my answers.

Hear this audio clip of Rock on National Public Radio just after he won Season 3.

Read this local news article about Rock before he heads to Nevada

What would you say about that? And have you heard anything about what HK contestants like Michael, Ralph, Heather, Virginia and Keith have been doing since they left?

Click here for epilogues for Season 1 and Season 2 contestants. Scroll down to the bottom of the pages to find out what some are doing now.

Here's a review of the three winners of the three shows...

And an old link to Michael's (Season 1 winner) plans and a new link talking about what happened to Michael's and Heather's careers.

1 comment:

Ms. Place said...

I'm going to comment on the three contestants you name specifically, A.E.: Aaron, Eddy, and Josh. First, Eddy's inclusion was a bit pathetic. He wanted to prove himself, but he wasn't given the same leeway by Chef Ramsay as Julia was. So I thought including him and then ignoring him was a bit mean.

Aaron? There was something fake about that man from the start. And why did Ramsay and Fox allow such a loser to continue in the show for so long? He really should have been cut in the first show. There were no excuses.

As for Josh, Rock had taken this guy's measure from the start. I didn't mind Chef Ramsay cutting him in mid-service, but then I was stunned when he cut a second chef that night. That move truly disappointed me.

As for Julia, I thought she was a more viable candidate for the top chef's position than Bonnie. I don't care how much Chef Ramsay talks about Bonnie's so called palate, Julia knew how to command others in the kitchen and kept a steady head. Bonnie panicked on several occasions and kept crying like a girlie girl - certainly not the traits of a leader. As for Rock, I hope he learns to keep his temper in check.

I agree that Brad had potential; so did Jen. All in all I was disappointed in the caliber of the contestants, but I like the premise of the show. I imagine that the pressure cooker behind the scenes in this show is even worse in real life.

Thanks for sending in your questions and comments. I enjoyed addressing them!