Thank God Hell’s Kitchen returned last night. Two weeks with nary an expletive use of the word “DONKEY!” and I nearly passed out from the shakes. I’m addicted, I tell you. I’m addicted! Luckily, Gordon Ramsay was back with plenty of silly comments about doughnuts and donkeys and all things in between. Questions such as “WHERE’S THE LAMB SAUCE????” were asked with the expected emotional wallop, and as a little treat for the audience, we got to see all the aspiring chefs lap up some spray-on cheese as if it were the finest fondue in all the land. Yes, it was the taste-testing episode, which meant everyone got to look like a fool. And by “fool,” I clearly mean “DONKEY!!!”This week’s episode began with the soothing words of the narrator reminding us that this was, in fact, the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen. Thank goodness for the dulcet tones of that dreamy narrator. Without him, I’d be completely lost in the saga of culinary exploration that is Hell’s Kitchen. Now, in case your memory has faded since the last episode two weeks ago, here’s a quick reminder of the main plot points. Okay, plot point, really. Basically, Sara pissed off all the girls when she lied in the kitchen and let Gordon pin the blame for her mistake on Virginia. This could only lead to one thing: bitch fight in Hell’s Kitchen tonight!
Well, sort of. If Hell’s Kitchen had been populated by the wunderkinder of Fresh Meat, then yes, fists certainly would have been flying. Instead, however, we have these meek chefs who simply settle for seething words to the camera. “Now I’m stuck with the bitch from hell,” Virginia complained to us. Off in the corner, I’m sure the producers were giggling at the irony of mentioning “hell” on Hell’s Kitchen.
We then saw Virginia confronting Sara about her duplicity, but instead of opting for the direct, “Bitch, you lied and let me take the blame!”, she instead went a more passive-aggressive route, attempting some low-level guilt by saying, “I thought you were somebody different. I thought you were actually like a good person.” And yes, that music you heard was me playing the violin by the television. Virginia then said that she and Sara couldn’t be friends anymore (the tragedy!), to which Sara simply shrugged and said something twangy. I don’t remember what. Probably something like “I work in a deli and look like a penguin!” Okay, maybe not that.
Later, we heard some general babbling from the other contestants. Rachel was still reeling from her terrible performance in the kitchen, and Keith was boasting about how he felt closer and closer to that grand prize in Vegas. It would all be his! Especially if the next competitions involved being dumb, having your pants fall down, and looking like you just took a dump.
The next morning, Chef Ramsay called the gang out to a table on which sat “what appears to be” (according to the narrator) a high quality buffet. Hmmm… trickery was in the air. What sneaky twist did Gordon have up his sleeve? Were all the dishes made from the meat of DONKEYS? Close. All the dishes were in fact fake. The fondue? Spray-on cheese. The paté? Crushed hot dogs (yummy!). And the caviar? Mock caviar from a cat fish. And then there were the kebobs (or “Kebaaabs” as Ramsay called them). The narrator told us quite sarcastically, “YEAH. Those are from a TV dinner.” Wow, snarky narrator. I liked it. I wonder what brought it on. Maybe he didn’t have breakfast that day. I just hope he keeps it up, saying things like “YEAH, whatevs” or “Pssh. Idiot” at random times.
Anyway, all the unsuspecting chefs dug into the spread, enjoying what they thought was a posh selection of hors d’oeuvres. Gordon happily polled the rubes on their thoughts, his smile surely masking a rage yearning to break out and yell, “It’s all fake, you FUCKING DONKEYS!!!” However, he managed to keep his restrain himself, even when the alleged cooks offered up their naive comments. Regarding the fondue, Virginia called it, “nice and thick. Coats your mouth nicely. Sharp, creamy.” Insert various semen jokes here. As for Keith, his favorite was the paté, but that was no surprise. Chances are he probably makes his own hot dog paté for breakfast.
Virginia then said she liked the caviar, noting that “the stuff I’ve eaten before tasted fish, stinky. This is just amazing.” It sort of reminded me of this time a few years ago when I was at a party, and my friend poured herself a cup of beer from the keg, tasted it, and then said, “This beer is wonderful! What is it?” It was Bud Light. Laughter was had all around. To be fair, the human brain can be tricked very easily when faced with deceiving visual stimuli. If I weren’t six years removed from that psychology class I took in college, I could expound more, but I’ve forgotten all the basics. I’m sure one of you psych-fans out there can pontificate about this much better than I can.
Well, after the kids had sufficiently made fools of themselves, Gordon finally dropped the bomb that everything, including the kebaaab, was fake. This truly upset Virginia, who sadly told us, “I was taking it seriously, and then he’s like ‘Hahaha.’” Oh the cruelty! Fair Virginia has been bamboozled with promises of gourmet sampling!
Less affected by the ruse was the rotund Keith, who defended his faux-paté love by saying, “The paté tasted good. It was made out of hot dogs. Hot dogs are slammin’!” Actually, more like you’ve been slamming the hot dogs (he’s fat. Get it?) But seriously, who says that hot dogs are slammin’ — aside from morbidly obese idiots? I’d hate to hear what he has to say about Cheetohs or Slim Jims.
Nevertheless, this whole mock buffet was just the light apéritif leading up to the full-bodied Grenache of the challenge. Yes, it was time for the time-honored Taste Testing Competition. We saw it last year on the show (not to mention on an episode of Top Chef). Nothing’s more entertaining than watching so-called experts spectacularly miss the mark when identifying flavors. The taste test is especially great on Hell’s Kitchen where the ingredients are for the most part amazingly simple, unlike Top Chef where the applicants had to identify bizarre things like Indonesian sunchoke seeds or whatever (I made that up. Don’t try to find look for it). Anyway, Chef Ramsay was clearly excited as he told the gang, “Concentrate, get serious, and get TASTY!” If that’s not a new tagline for some game show, I don’t know what is.
First up were Maribel versus Keith. Gordon fed them each potato, which they easily identified. Then came seared tuna, which G-Ram tried to stick in Keith’s mouth, but the big oaf dodged the fork adamantly, kind of like a little kid avoiding his veggies. Didn’t Keith realize? Seared tuna is SLAMMIN’! Nevertheless, he identified the fish as poached salmon, putting his team behind (Maribel accurately guessed tuna). We then cut back to the girls where Virginia seemed to still be smarting from the buffet betrayal. She HATES buffet pranks! Next to her, however, was Rachel who smiled broadly at the competition. Best taste test EVER!
“I’m having a blast!”
Maribel and Keith both failed to identify oregano, and then when it came to pear chutney, Keith answered correctly while Maribel said spicy mango. After round one, the teams were tied. Suddenly, the narrator piped up and said: “Next, Virginia the salad chef takes on Heather the sous chef.” Oooh, nice subtle yet effective passive-aggressive put-down of Virginia. Suck it, SALAD CHEF!
Virginia then told us, “I just pray for me to be able to work with my palate and connect to my brain.” She then added, “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just show my tits again.”
Well, things didn’t start off too hot for Virginia (or Heather, really). G-Ram fed them both sea urchin (a sushi fave of mine). Heather said it was turbot, which was admirably wrong, but Virginia suggested fish stock. Fish stock?? Isn’t that, you know, like a broth? How could she ever confuse a fish for a broth? They are two different consistencies! Two different states: solid vs. liquid! That would be like eating a yogurt-covered raisin and saying, “Milk!”
Luckily for Virginia, the ingredients soon eased up. Both women easily identified the next items — chicken and some SLAMMIN’ hot dogs, which surely had Keith drooling more than his usual three teaspoons per minute. G-Ram then gave the girls some Swiss cheese, and again, Virginia answered correctly, going a cool three for four. Heather, meanwhile, said it was parmesan reggiano. I don’t know how she messed this up, considering that parmesan is a hard cheese and Swiss is, you know, soft(er). Nevertheless, the Salad Chef beat the Sous Chef, which I guess was the whole point of having the narrator make such a big deal of it in the first place. Yay underdogs (with giant knockers)!
Last up were Sara vs. Garrett (Rachel was sitting out to even up the team numbers). Both boasted to us that they could identify any taste. Sara went so far as to say that she was a master taster — she used to eat dirt for crying out loud. I don’t know how that necessarily qualified her for having phenomenal taste buds. If anything, that proved that she certainly couldn’t taste anything at all. Nevertheless, with the red team up by one point (thanks Virginia!), Garrett needed to bring his A-Game to defeat Sara and her master mouth. Well, the two correctly identified the first ingredients (scrambled eggs, spinach), but then kiwi proved to be too difficult. Sara suggested plum, and Garrett said pear, which caused Gordon to flip out and go NUTS! I would transcribe what he said, but honestly, I couldn’t tell through all the beeps. Apparently he really doesn’t like it when people confuse pears with kiwis. I can understand. I hate when people mistake kumquats for elderberries. THE WORST.
Ultimately, it came all down to braised short ribs. If Garrett could accurately identify them, then his team still had a fighting shot. But if he failed, then the red team would automatically win. So what would Garrett say? Would he get it correct??? COMMERCIAL! Of course. This show is so damn diligent about sticking us with cliffhangers. When we came back, we found Garrett still tasting the braised short ribs. And his answer? Turkey. Doh!
“It was short ribs,” Gordon yelled. “YOU’RE THE TURKEY!!!” Oh SNAP! Good one, G-Ram!!! You’re the turkey — just brilliant! Somebody call Wilmer Valderrama: I think we got a new contestant for Yo Momma! “You’re the turkey.” Still laughing. GENIUS.
Well, Garrett’s turkey of a guess secured the victory for the Red Team, and what did they win? The chance to participate in a photo shoot with Gordon for TV Guide. Or as I like to call it: the opportunity of a lifetime! As the Blue Team sulked off to clean the kitchen, the women all dressed up in their purdiest outfits and prepared to make love to the camera. Rachel, in particular, looked quite lovely in her sassy LPGA-tastic outfit.
The fun continued at the photo shoot where the girls all reveled in the pampering and attention. Nameless lackeys applied makeup, handed out champagne, and massaged the happy victors. At one point, Garrett showed up to deliver more champagne, and just as he was thinking he might be able to quietly blend into the background, G-Ram shooed him away as if he’d misidentified kiwi for pear ALL OVER AGAIN.
Eventually, the girls and Ramsay all got in front of the camera and smiled. It was a grand old time, at least while the air remained fresh. Yes, Sara the penguin let loose a giant fart, which is always the best move to make in front of your potential boss. Amazingly, she didn’t try to pin the fart on Virginia.
Back at the kitchen, Keith complained to us about how he wanted to be in the photo shoot. I personally was very happy with the results because honestly, who wants to open up TV Guide and see Keith’s droopy face? You can put your hand down, Keith’s mom.
Later, we found Maribel crying in her bed, missing her family as usual. I’m sure we’re supposed to feel sympathetic to her, but hey, it was her choice to abandon everyone to go on a reality show. Just suck it up and get over it. Too bad she couldn’t be having fun like all the other girls, who were hanging out in the backyard, telling stories, and laughing with wild abandon. Rachel in particular was having such a good time I thought she might just hack up a lung. When she cackled, it was as if she’d just spent the past forty-five years chain-smoking… in a coal mine. One word: phlegm.
Sara, meanwhile, noticed some sapphic undertones with handsome Rachel and staunch feminist Heather. “The nature of Heather and Rachel’s relationship is kind of unprofessional,” Sara noted. “Rachel’s making eyes at Heather. And Heather’s making eyes at Rachel.” And of course Keith was making eyes at a pack of hot dogs, but that was neither here nor there. Point was, it looked like there might be two new members in the Melissa Etheridge fan club. Further cementing this notion was Rachel who seethed pure rage about Sara. “I could just beat her ass,” she told us, adding, “And after I beat her, I’ll recite poetry and play softball. Not necessarily in that order.”
After the break, we found our chefs all scurrying around the kitchen, preparing for that evening’s dinner service. Keith was damn sure that his team would finally be triumphant tonight, saying, “One of the girls is going home tonight. K-Grease is gonna kill at this service. He’s gonna fly around that kitchen like a maniac, pumping out money food. Y’heard?”
Let’s analyze all the ways that this little sound bite is AWFUL.
1) He proudly embraces his nickname, K-Grease, as if it’s derived from praise and adulation, not mockery and contempt.
2) He refers to himself in the third-person.
3) He uses the phrase, “Money food.” Memo to K-Grease: Swingers was TEN YEARS AGO.
4) He uses the phrase, ‘Y’heard?” Memo to K-Grease: YOU ARE NOT A RAPPER.
5) Seriously. He’s just an idiot.
Anyway, the restaurant eventually opened, and before the first order was even in, Gordon was already yelling. Surprisingly, the target of his wrath was Heather who had prematurely began cooking pasta. Ramsay nearly popped every blood vessel in his head as he screamed at her, and it only got worse later on when she screwed up the risotto. And if there’s anything we know about G-Ram, it’s that he hates when people botch the BLOODY RISOTTO!!!
Over in the red kitchen, the ladies were successfully sending out appetizers, and Gordon even went so far as to give Virginia — yes, Virginia — a compliment for being communicative. This was followed with Virginia smiling happily, but no, she did not then bare her breasts in a gesture of total glee.
The fun times in the red kitchen didn’t last for long though. Before long, a wayward appetizer returned, instantly sending Gordon on one of his wind-up rants. You know the type: he starts of moaning something like “Oh noooo… c’mon…. no no no,” and then suddenly it escalates to “YOU F*#@ING DONKEY SH*@&T BRAIN!!!” Well, Gordon was mad this time for very good reason. There was a big black hair on the foie gras. Tasty! And the only person who had black hair? Good ol’ Maribel. But she rebuffed the accusation, saying that her hairs were curly, not straight. You know who I blame? Sous chef MARY ANNE! Don’t think we forgot about you and your beguiling charm!
Meanwhile, a power struggle was emerging on the blue side. Since she had faltered so badly with the pasta and risotto, Heather was now eager to prove herself right again, and that meant meddling in Garrett’s station. Unfortunately, this completely threw him out of his routine and screwed everything up. It was kind of obnoxious on her part, especially since earlier she had barked at Garrett for even talking to her. You know, she started off as the likable superstar of the season, but every week, Heather slowly falls farther and farther from grace. Way to suck, GRACE FALLER!
Back on the Red side, Gordon was now flipping out about quail. Apparently Rachel was so busy humming Indigo Girls tunes that she completely overcooked her dish. This infuriated Ramsay, who couldn’t believe that Rachel would pass forward such a dry piece of poultry. In fact, he even had Jean Philippe retrieve a pair of glasses from a customer so Rachel could look through them and see her food properly. OH SNAP! Another dis, and this time it had a prop! AWESOME!
Ultimately, Gordo grilled Rachel, asking her, “Did you think I was going to send that?” She was totally screwed. If she said yes, then he would have bashed her for having low standards. If she said no, then he would have bashed her for giving him a substandard dish. It was a no-win situation, and all Rachel could do was stare and stammer. Finally, Gordon had had enough, or as he’s wont to say, “I’ve HAD eeenough!!!” But don’t worry, he didn’t then say “SHUT IT DOWN!” Instead, he opted for the “come here, you!” approach and took Rachel into the back room. Would she receive forty lashes with a cat o’nine tails? Or merely a few smacks upside the head?
Well, neither. First, we had to sit through some commercials, and then when we returned, Gordon simply attacked Rachel with a loud and aggressive pep talk. She insisted that she wouldn’t let him down any further (which we knew was a lie), and as they returned to the kitchen, Rachel vehemently told us, “That man will not break me. He will NOT break me!” Translation: yeah, he’ll probably break me.
“The Lillith Fair was awesome and deserves to come back, dammit!”
Later, a dish came back to the Blue kitchen for having too much crust or something, and when Gordon confronted Keith about it, the portly hot dog enthusiast shook his head and said that he never sent the dish out that way. Well, Gordon was not about to hear that. Suddenly, K-Grease became incredibly shifty and nervous, like a teenager who’d been caught shoplifting. This did not please G-Ram who immediately accused him of acting like a spoiled five-year-old. I thought for sure he’d start calling him a whiney little DONKEY, but I was wrong. On the plus side, however, Gordon did tell Keith that he should be more like a leader, especially since Heather and Garrett “are cooking like donkeys!” YES! Random donkey usage! Even better, Gordon then seethed, “Donkey’s Kitchen! Should we change the fucking logo? DK???” I say yes!
Back over in the Red Kitchen, Rachel’s vow to not let Ramsay down came to a stunning end when she ruined yet another serving of beef wellington. This time she said the reason why she screwed up was because she was afraid to tell him when the dish would actually be ready. Gordon then twisted her words and started accusing her of being afraid to tell the truth and blah blah blah more screaming and yelling.
Meanwhile, in the Blue kitchen, further disaster was about to strike. Garrett opened up an oven to show Gordon the portion of quail he’d been cooking. One problem. I’ll let Gordon explain:
“TWO PORTIONS OF QUAIL!!!! You’re one portion short, you fucking DOUGHNUT!!!”
For those of you keeping score, in just this episode alone, Ramsay has now called Garrett “turkey,” “donkey,” and “doughnut.” I’m thinking the next insult with be either “marshmallow,” “poodle,” or “tuber.”
Believe it or not, amidst all this chaos, nearly all the tables had been served. Still, there were some hungry patrons, including one dumb girl who threw down a piece of bread and complained, “I don’t want this bread. I want a freakin’ entrée!” And by that, she meant “I want to be on TV!!!”
Over on the Red side, things seemed to be doing better — enough that the narrator couldn’t resist a cheesy pun: “With Virginia’s fish station swimming along…” I didn’t even listen to the rest of the line because I was already mid-groan. Anyway, the Blue Team was so so close to finishing table service. All they needed to do was get some lamb sauce. Of course, it didn’t help that Gordon was standing there, yelling from the top of his lungs, “Where’s the lamb SAUCE? WHERE’S THE LAMB SAUCE?!?!?!!?” Okay, G-Ram. Settle down. You’ll get your lamb sauce. Everything’s always about ewe, isn’t it? Rimshot! (kind of. Okay, totally undeserving).
Luckily, Garrett found the lamb sauce and handed it to Ramsay, who thanked him by seething, “Now fuck off, you fat, useless, sack of fucking yankee dankee doo.” Little known fact: that’s how Gordon signed all his Christmas Cards this year. By the way, what exactly is yankee dankee doo?
Well, here’s some good news. The Blue Team managed to finally serve all its entrees. Not far behind was the Red Team which only had like three tables left. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah. RACHEL. Not even the most colorful bandanas could save her hopelessly charred beef wellingtons. In an act of desperation, she applied sauce to the steaks to make them appear medium rare, but the narrator clued us in to a little secret: “What Rachel doesn’t realize is that Chef Ramsay can know if meat is cooked correctly simply by touching it.” NO WAY (imagine me doing the Elaine Benes shove). Do you mean to tell me that a chef can actually tell if meat is rare, medium rare, medium or well done merely by touching it??? Gordon Ramsay must be some sort of culinary super man! That is exquisite!!!
Nevertheless, Gordon caught Rachel in her boldface lie, and once again, he chewed her out viciously. This time, she retreated to her station where she began muttering to herself, always a fun habit on Hell’s Kitchen. I seriously don’t think there’s any other reality show that has as many contestants talking to themselves.
Well, Rachel’s latest beef wellington debacle was enough to put Ramsay over the edge. He couldn’t take it anymore; so he said those words we crave to hear: “SHUT IT DOWN!!!” Sucks for those last three tables. Oh well. As everyone then shuffled back to their holes in the wall, or “dorms,” Gordon told Keith the hang behind. Surely this would lead to a monstrous reaming, but instead, Ramsay offered up his second pep talk of the evening. This time, he was a bit friendlier as he reminded Keith that he had true talent and needed to stop being so sensitive. Ultimately, Gordon said, “You’re gonna shine!” Whaa?? Was this the same show? Was the man who was just giving himself a hernia over lamb sauce now dispensing cheesy bits of advice? It couldn’t be! This would be like Simon Cowell wearing a black sweater that wasn’t three sizes too small (air high five, Seacrest).
Later, Gordon called everyone back into the kitchen to announce the evening’s winners. But first, it was time for a labored insult. “My back is killing me. Any idea why?” Gordon asked. Um, too much garden work? Hauling furniture around? Trying to lift up a garage door too quickly — like the dad in Hogan’s Family? Nope. Gordon’s back was killing him because he was carrying the kitchens. Ah. Clever. Suddenly, Heather raised her hand and asked to speak. She said that on her team, they all under performed, and as a result, they should have all been up on the elimination block. It was kind of her attempt at reverse psychology and extreme modesty. But then, get this: Heather then had the temerity to note that she shouldn’t go home. Yes, she basically sold out her team. Poor form. And obnoxious too.
Nevertheless, it didn’t matter because the Red Team lost anyway — as if there’d be any doubt. I mean, the Blue side at least finished their dinner service. The only shock was that Virginia, who had been teetering near elimination on the last episode, had now blossomed into the Red Team’s finest member. She was therefore assigned the responsibility of nominating two people from her team to face Gordo. Almost instantly, Rachel began pushing for a Sara nomination. Remember? They have a rivalry? Sara, meanwhile, blatantly kissed up to Virginia, despite that they, you know, hate each other.
“Honestly, Viginia, I enjoy working with you, and you’re the strengths of the strengths,” Sara said shamelessly. She then added, “Did I say ‘strengths of the strengths?’ Haha. I meant I hate you.”
Outside, Rachel and Heather talked about their friendship. They both said how much they’d miss each other if Rachel were cut, and then Rachel made Heather swear to take Sara down also. There was more discussion, but it wasn’t really interesting, so let’s just get to nominations.
First, Virginia selected Rachel. No surprise there. And then the second nomination? COMMERCIAL!
When we returned from the break, Virginia had to reveal her second nomination. She suddenly began talking for minutes and minutes and minutes about Sara and how she had let Virginia take the fall for her mistake, and then after seemingly three hours of tattling, Virginia said, “However, I chose Maribel as my second choice.” You could practically hear the needle scratch right off the record. Even Garrett couldn’t help but laugh at this random turn of events. Virginia explained that she didn’t like how Maribel had argued with Gordon about the hair in the foie gras, and no, it didn’t take forty-five minutes to spit it all out.
Finally, it was time for Gordon to cut someone. And the chef going home was… no surprise here… Rachel! Of course. Just in case this did shock us, the music suddenly crashed with a mighty BOOM as if to say, “AH HA! GOTCHA!!! I bet you didn’t think she’d be cut, even though she was a miserable failure during all of tonight’s show!”
If it was any consolation, Gordon delivered his first post-elimination speech of the season, sort of, as he said, “You’ve busted your ass off in this kitchen.” He then added, “Now good luck with the softball league.” Okay, he didn’t say that, but I’m sure he was thinking it.
As the chefs all returned to their living quarters, Maribel reeled in anger over her nomination. “She’s a down low bitch. Oh yeah,” she seethed to us. Yeah, to think she had the nerve to nominate Maribel for having an attitude. Clearly, Maribel is even-keeled, you down low bitch.
The episode ended with Garrett telling us, “I’ve got testicular fortitude. That means I’ve got balls.” Thanks for the explanation. He then added, “I’m gonna win this competition. That means that I will be triumphant in each of the following challenges in the ensuing weeks and such.”
And now there are just six chefs left. What did you think about this episode? Did the right person go home?