As the number of chefs dwindle in Hell’s Kitchen, the show faces a horrifying dilemma: how to keep the drama interesting as the food service becomes less chaotic? Well, luckily, there’s never a true shortage of drama on this show, and for the first time ever, the elimination ceremony actually seemed more exciting than anything in the kitchen. This was a great episode — full of resentful chefs, bitter rivalries, and cruel twists of fate. Granted, Gordon Ramsay didn’t fly off the handle in any spectacular ways that called for the vein-popping screams of “DONKEY!”, but the word “cow” was uttered many times, and not in a friendly way. Basically, as long as G-Ram uses a farmyard animal in some derogatory way, I’m a satisfied customer.Tonight’s show began with the final four returning to the dorms after the unceremonious dismissal of Garrett, or as Gordon calls him, “GARRETT!!!!” (Not as good as “GIACAMO!!!” but a close second). Feeling proud to be the last man standing, Keith announced, “Yo, I got my bitches now.” I wonder if in his fantasies, he sees himself as the culinary world’s answer to Snoop Dogg. If that’s true, that’s a really, really sad thing to behold.
Keith may have been flying high, but Virginia, who had just escaped elimination for the umpteenth time, was emotionally drained. She collapsed on her bed and cried, occasionally wiping tears and snot with her little stuffed monkey. Note to her future grandchildren: don’t get too close to that monkey.
Sara attempted to make Virginia feel better by mailing in some token phrases of encouragement such as “It’s a hard knock life.” Way to go, Sara. That’s what I call empathy! Meanwhile, outside, Heather asked Keith how it felt to be the only guy left. “I’m a pimp, son. What can you expect?” he replied. Yes, Keith, you are a pimp. You are the pimpiest pimp there is. Your street cred is off the charts. In fact, if you were left to fend for yourself in Compton, I’m sure no one would shoot your oafish head at all. No one at all. Hey, let’s test that, shall we?
Keith then told us that he wasn’t concerned about Heather being his main competition. Why? “K-Grease is stronger than her,” he said. K-Grease also apparently loves speaking in the third-person (or third-and-a-half really. He’s a large man).
The next morning, Gordon called the chefs into the kitchen and asked them all who was the strongest. Each person volunteered themselves except Virginia who stammered that she was strong but not the strongest because her skills weren’t great and last night’s service wasn’t very good and– SHUT UP!
Luckily, Gordon put Virginia’s insecurities to rest by saying, “I personally think you’re all strong chefs because you’ve all gone to hell and back.” Don’t you mean, Hell’s KITCHEN and back? Get it? Get it? I’m sure the narrator is chuckling somewhere.
Anyway, for this week’s challenge, each chef would be running his or her own restaurant for lunch. “That’s pimp!” Keith said. Well, if that’s pimp and K-Grease is a pimp, then would it be safe to say, “That’s K-Grease”? Just thinking out loud. Anyway, the winner of this challenge would receive a guaranteed spot in the final three, thus making this competition very, very important, especially for such dubious talents as Sara and Virginia. Gordo then blindfolded everyone and took them all to the secret location of their restaurants. What they didn’t know was that their “restaurants” were actually just catering trucks. Insert Debbie Downer wah-wah-wah here.
Actually, this twist was pretty awesome, and the chefs welcomed it with open arms. “I’ve always dreamed of having one of those!” Sara told us. Kind of a random dream. It’s like me saying I wished I could someday have a bottle of sun tan lotion. Nevertheless, these trucks were located at a construction site, and the chefs would each be feeding a hundred workers who’d then vote on their favorite lunch. How very Top Chef. Would Tom Colicchio be making an appearance? Or perhaps Katie Lee Joel, a.k.a. the Human Dot Matrix Printer?
Sadly, neither person showed up, but that didn’t temper the enthusiasm in the air. “I was excited because I love construction workers!” Heather exclaimed. Well, too bad this wasn’t a competition for who had the biggest love for construction workers. I know — bummer.
Well, for the big challenge, Virginia served up turkey proscuitto and feta cheese sandwiches. Sara went for seared quail with a microgreen salad and berries (that just screams “construction worker”), Keith opted for a poached lobster on a bed of greens, and Heather kept it simple with a grilled chicken sandwich and fries.
“WHO DOESN’T LIKE A GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWICH??? AND FRIES!?!?!” Heather yelled at us. RELAX! We get it! By the way, I think I know who doesn’t like a grilled chicken sandwich: CHICKENS.
Well, the workers soon came to feed, and each chef had a different strategy to win them over. Sara spoke in Spanish to get in touch with her hombres, and Virginia, well, I’ll let the narrator explain:
“While Sara works the locals with her native tongue, Virginia uses a more universal language.” A.K.A: her boobs. Yes, Virginia flirted her ass off, which was probably a more effective technique than Spanish. Meanwhile, Heather went the booze route. “I put alcohol in the onions,” she said. “Construction workers love alcohol!” Yes, especially when they’re teetering eighteen stories above the ground. But seriously, it’s always a wonderful idea to serve up booze to the people assembling a massive structure in earthquake prone Los Angeles.
If K-Grease were a female construction worker…
Okay, okay — before you gourmets out there jump on me, I know that the alcohol burns out. I was just trying to make a joke, dammit. Is that so wrong? Well, all the workers voted, and after watching a random dude drift by in some sort of construction vehicle, we then headed back to Hell’s Kitchen to learn the results. Ramsay started by announcing the worst dish of the group. The lunch that the workers liked the least was… Heather’s! Who doesn’t like chicken sandwiches? EVERYONE, apparently. “I felt my heart drop,” she said, all choked up as if she learned that her chicken sandwiches had been made with the meat of a beloved childhood pet. But enough about her. Let’s get to the winner. The person guaranteed a spot in the final three was…
Dammit! Luckily, this is a recap; so we can get right back to the action. As I was saying: the person guaranteed a spot in the final three was… with half the vote… Virginia! Wow! “Are you lying to me?” she asked incredulously. “Is that a joke? Just kidding.” Not believing what he was hearing, Gordon then began to rub his temples. Stop talking, Virginia. Shush! But alas, she continued, “I didn’t think that anyone liked it. I liked it. Did you like it?” It was like she was on a terrible date… with herself.
Anyway, as a second component of the prize, Virginia was then whisked off to go shopping, leaving the losers behind to shuck crabs all day long. Of course, before anything could get done, we had to check back in on Heather who was full-on bawling in the confessional. “They said that mine was the worst!” she weeped. SHUT UP. Get over it. Alas, I guess I can’t discount the pain and disillusionment that follows when the chicken-sandwich universe collapses.
Well, Keith and Heather were certainly jealous about Virginia’s win. Heather chalked it up to the shameless flirting. Virginia? Gaining an unnecessary advantage through flirting? Never! Anyway, as the gang went buckwild with the crabs, Virginia went off with Ramsay to hoity kitchenware store, Sur La Table where she commenced an all out shopping spree. The entire adventure looked fairly awkward as she gawked at various items, and Gordon hung back, looking embarrassed and bored. At one point, she perused the knives and said she wanted “the big one. What’s it called again?”
“The cleaver,” Gordon replied. Cleaver schmeaver. Who needs to know about knives when you’re vying to run your own restaurant?
We then saw a neat plug for Gordon’s cookbook (which I might buy just for fun), and then Virginia accurately commented, “This is a lot more fun than having to do that crab business.” She then added, “But enough about my itching!” Rimshot! You know I had to get a crab joke in there somehow.
“They call me the K-Grease of the crab world.”
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, the crabby Heather was slaying her crustacean brethren. At one point, she dipped a poor guy in a vat of boiling water, saying, “Get in. It’s like a bath.” Yes, a terrible, terrible, lethal, scalding, awful, nightmarish bath. Most misleading executioner EVER!
Back at Sur La Table, Virginia found a porcelain cow and suggested buying it for Sara, on account of Ramsay always calling her an ugly cow. Why, that’s a lovely gesture, Virginia! Believe it or not, she actually bought the bovine cream-holder (if there’s a better word than “cream-holder,” please tell me), and when she returned to the kitchen, Virginia proudly presented it to her as a gift. Wow. The passive-aggressive cow gift. That’s a first. Even better, Virginia handed Heather a glove that could be used to pick up hot pans without causing burns (like earlier in the season). Yes, the passive-aggressive cow gift was topped with the passive-aggressive potholder gift. Delightful! As for Keith, Virginia gave him a nutcracker or crab shucker or whatever. Not as high level as the other two gifts, but amusing nonetheless.
Well, all three chefs were not very happy with their presents. The way they looked at it, Virginia spent $1000, and out of all that, she only scrounged up about twenty dollars total on gifts for them. I understood their frustration, but at the same time, they should be happy they got anything at all (even if they were passive-aggressive gifts). The little cherry on the sundae was that afterwards, Virginia asked, “Are you guys mad at me?” Yeah, just go back to the dorms and go to sleep. Good thing Garrett wasn’t there. He would have shivved her three times by now.
The next day, as the chefs prepared for dinner service, Virginia announced that even though she was safe, she wasn’t going to coast through dinner. She then added, “I plan to royally screw up the vegetables and prove my inadequacy once again. That is all.” Okay, she didn’t say that, but the narrator did chime in and say, “Now the pressure is on Sara, Keith, and Heather because one of them will be going home tonight.” Yeah, we kind of figured that out about ten minutes ago. You know, when we found out that Virginia was the only one who’d be safe. But thanks anyway, Narrator.
Later, as the chefs were just getting ready to open up the restaurant, Gordon gathered everyone around and made an announcement: he had invited three top chefs to visit the restaurant. “There’s no way on Earth any of you are going to make me look stupid,” Gordon said. Ha. Good luck with that. If you don’t want to look stupid, maybe you should, you know, hire real chefs next time? Or at least get rid of K-Grease. I mean, seriously. He calls himself K-Grease! He’s the K-Fed of cooking!
Well, the night’s dinner service began without a hitch as Virginia offered up a lovely crab amuse bouche. Any reality show that provides an amuse bouche is fine by me, dammit! All the chefs seemed to be in the groove right out of the gate as appetizers and entrees went flying out of the kitchen. Surely, this couldn’t last, right?
Gordon was quite excited about the way things were working, and he noted, “I’ve never started a service off so positively. ‘Allo? Can we keep it going?” No. Most certainly not.
Sure enough, the well-oiled machine began to fall apart. Gordon began calling out dinner orders so quickly, it was nearly impossible to follow. This of course caused Virginia to commence her weekly meltdown, and soon the narrator was able to chime in with an ever so punny comment: “While Virginia is spinning her wheels, Heather is in overdrive.” Ah yes. A wonderful use of automotive imagery to make a point. Well done, producers! Well done! Might I also suggest, “While Virginia is spinning her wheels, Heather is at full speed”? Or how about “While Virginia is spinning her wheels, Heather has pulled into the intersection, signaled, waited for the right-of-way, made her turn, accelerated onto the onramp, merged with the traffic, and is now holding steady at a fast yet sensible speed of 67 MPH”? Either one could work.
Anyway, Virginia continued to fall apart, losing sight of where her green beans were. This caused Gordon to call out, “Where are the green beans? Oh hello, dizzy lizzy!” I love when random British slang sneaks into the show, especially when it makes no sense to us. Hey, don’t look at me like I’m talking a load of codswallop!
Well, while Virginia was busy acting like a dizzy lizzy, she completely slowed the rest of the kitchen down, and Heather was not afraid to say so (they all were trying to make her look as bad as possible on account of her winning the challenge earlier). Of course, Heather didn’t need to sabotage Virginia because she was pretty much doing herself in. Besides, Heather was doing outstanding work with the beef wellington, earning the praises of Ramsay in the process. It was all well and good, but until she captures the hearts of those construction workers, it will all be in vain! In vain, dammit!
Despite a few hiccups, the kitchen was still running pretty smoothly. That is, until the über-chefs arrived. Presiding over this VIP table were Josie Le Balch, David Myers, and Michael Mina — an impressive collection of culinary figures, who clearly didn’t make the much more prestigious Top Chef cut. Anyway, because they were all special guests, they didn’t get to order their dinner. Instead, the kitchen decided their menu: spaghetti lobster, beef wellington, and scallops. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Eh, not so much.
Right off the get-go, Keith managed to start a fire in his frying pan. Then, despite having been hitting homeruns all night, he undercooked the spaghetti. Rather than start a new batch and incur the wrath of Ramsay, he instead re-boiled this spaghetti, which apparently is a big no-no. This could only lead to bad, DONKEY-level things.
Well, Keith eventually sent out his twice-boiled spaghetti (it just sounds delicious, right? The more boil the merrier!), and Gordon didn’t even bother inspecting it. Sure enough, the master chefs immediately detected something was wrong. They noted that part of the spaghetti had been cooked really well while the other part seemingly had never even touched the water in the first place. JP quickly relayed this feedback to Gordon, who was not happy at all, but in a rare gesture of chumminess, he told K-Grease that he hadn’t given up on him yet. Aww… Gotta love it when Gordon gets all friendly and such. Makes you just want to go out on the street and yell “DONKEY!” at someone, but in a nice way!
Next up on the disaster express was Sara who had suddenly discovered that there wasn’t enough salmon to get through the night. This obviously did not make Gordo happy, and he told JP to ask a table if they didn’t mind substituting turbot for salmon. He then told Sara, “Fuck off, will you, you useless cow.” This then led to a general taunting of Sara, culminating in him saying, “You’re finished, aren’t you?”
“Oh, chef, c’mon,” Sara replied back. Bad move.
“Hey, what do you mean, ‘C’mon?’ I want YOU to come on!” he replied. Ah yes. My favorite Ramsay tactic: taking the last word and throwing it back in someone’s face. He first did it effortlessly last season with the word “plank” (“YOU’RE A PLANK!”), and ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the technique. I can just imagine him at Christmas, his son opening up a present.
Son: “Oh sweet! An iPod!”
Gordon: “YOU’RE AN iPOD, iPOD!!!!”
Anyway, Gordon and Sara got into a whole big argument, and because she can never keep her mouth shut, Sara kept talking back to him, causing G-Ram to finally seethe, “You’re finished!!!”
When we came back, Gordon tried to take Sara off the line and have Heather take her place (which Heather was super eager and happy to do, of course), but Sara defended her territory, essentially telling Heather to git back. “Don’t get up on my crotch about it!” Sara told us in a confessional. That should be the name of her restaurant. She could serve crabs. Rimshot again! Oh, the crabs humor is just so timeless.
Anyway, Sara’s dish eventually went out to the chefs, and they thought the scallops were okay, but a bit salty. MIXED REVIEWS AGAIN! Now it was down to Heather and Virginia to be in synch and execute a perfect beef wellington with veggie garnish. Surely, they would rise to the occasion, right? Yup. Just after Virginia doused the giant fire she had brewed up in her frying pan. Oy vey.
No sooner than you can say “Spaz-tastic,” and Virginia was already demanding help from everyone. “Keith, can you run back and get me cream please? As fast as you can?” she asked, to which K-Grease responded with a definitive, “NO!” To be fair, he only understands questions in Poseur-ese. For instance, he totally would have helped out if Virginia had simply said, “Keith, can you run back and get me that pimpin’ cream, son? As fast as you can, y’heard? ‘Cause that’s how I roll.”
Well, Heather and Virginia managed to get their joint dish out, and the chefs all loved the beef, but the peas earned low marks due to the carbon flavor of an open flame charring them. Oops. You heard it here first: not enough pea-ness. Apparently these chefs really like more pea-ness. Their mouths simply aren’t happy until they’re stuffed, nay, overflowing with pea-ness. It’s a common reaction. Just ask this woman.
Anyway, with the chef’s table done with, the gang could focus on the remaining customers in Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, by this time, Virginia was now a total disaster area, and it probably didn’t help that Heather was bossing her around (as well as everyone else). Gordon soon honed right in on Virginia’s insecurities and accused her of coasting since she had immunity. Virginia got that flustered look on her face (kind of like a Zoloft ball in those anti-anxiety commercials) and insisted that she was not in fact coasting. There was then general yelling from Gordon as he called Sara a stupid cow again and then said, “Next, you’ll be asking to plucky my eyebrows or shave my pubes.” Or something like that. I really wasn’t sure the context, but it was amusing nonetheless.
Later, Virginia managed to burn some cabbage, which was the last straw for Chef Ramsay. With anger pulsating through his face, he announced, “You’re no longer safe!” Dunh dunh DUNH!!!! Well, it was inevitable. How could Gordon in good faith let Virginia skip to the next round when she was so amazingly inept in the kitchen? Well, Virginia was not happy about this at all, and she told us that this was “probably like the worst service I’ve ever had.” Hey, doesn’t she say that every week? Well, the good news for her was that even though she was doing a terrible job, the gang still managed to finish the entire dinner service, and that had to count for something (okay, maybe not).
Anyway, once everyone had gone home, Ramsay told Heather that since her wellingtons had been such a hit with the chef’s table, she would get to nominate two people to go home. Well, this was easy. Sara and Virginia for sure. The only surprise was that Virginia pulled Heather aside and said told her she wanted to go home. She didn’t feel like she deserved to be there any more — she couldn’t even run a vegetable station for crying out loud. This obviously made Heather quite the happy camper, and she thanked Virginia for her bravery and maturity. Of course, any avid reality fan knows that producers never show their hand this early. Something was up…
Heather then told K-Grease and Sara that Virginia had volunteered to go home, causing smiles all around. When she then told Sara that she was nominating her, the deli owner asked, “What was so bad about my performance in your opinion?” Um… remember that whole thing when you screwed up the salmon and Chef Ramsay had to yell at you for five minutes? Yeah. That’s why you sucked. Of course, Heather didn’t say that. Instead she said her performance was just fine. Besides, “you’re not going home; so you have nothing to worry about.” Translation: I don’t know how or why, but Sara was definitely going home.
At the elimination ceremony, Heather unsurprisingly nominated the two other girls to go home, and Ramsay had them make their final pleas. Sara said she’d made mistakes but could hold her own in a kitchen. Virginia, meanwhile, said, “I have serious doubts in myself tonight. It makes me wonder what sort of kitchen can I run if I can’t even run a freakin’ vegetable station… I don’t think I deserve to win Hell’s Kitchen.” Hmmm… it sounded like she was quitting, but there had to be some twist, some catch. What could it be?
“So what are you saying?” Ramsay asked.
“What am I saying? I DON’T KNOW!” Virginia replied. You don’t know? You don’t know? Woman, get it together!!!
And then the twist we were waiting for arrived.
“You won the challenge,” Ramsay said. “I guaranteed your place in the final three, and I’m a man of my word. If you want to go, that is your choice. If you decide to stay, I’ll send Sara home.” A dilemma! What will win out? Her unbridled ambition or her culinary guilt???
We then cut to commercial, which must have been a bit torturous for all the non-DVR fools out there, and when we returned, Virginia still sounded like she was going to throw in the towel. She didn’t want to be in the final three because of some reward or whatever. “I want to be here because I deserve to be,” she said, her voice breaking, chin quivering, and tears threatening to pour down her cheeks.
It sounded an awful lot like she was going to quit, but again, Gordon refused to fill in the blanks for her. He said he couldn’t help her anymore. It was her decision.
“May I ask you a question, chef?” Sara then asked.
“Shut the fuck up for thirty seconds!” Gordon snapped back. YOU STUPID COW!!!
So now it was time for Virginia’s decision. Did she want to go? “Hell no, I don’t want to go!” she said. Oh shit! Oh shit! “I want to frickin’ stay. You know why? Because I fuckin’ want to ! And that’s why!” she said with a smirk and new resolve. Wow. Normally I’d say she screwed over Sara, but honestly, Gordon was implicitly encouraging her to stay on board, and how could she really turn that down? Sure enough, Gordon had to keep his word. He cut Sara, but surprisingly, he gave her one of his patented goodbye speeches we love so much.
“You worked hard. I appreciate that. I think you know deep down inside you can do it,” Gordon said, adding, “YOU FAT COW!!!”
As they shook hands, Ramsay then went in for the kiss, which is always awkward on this show, and then Sara replied, “As we say in Texas, kiss my grits, chef!” And with that, we were down to the final three. Virginia explained to us that she now felt like she honestly deserved to be where she was, and as the hour ended, Gordon slammed Sara’s chef’s coat onto its hook and said, “‘Allo sweetheart. Kiss my grits!” And with that, her picture went up in flames.
What did you think about this episode? Did Ramsay make the right choice? Did Virginia do the right thing? Does Virginia have any shot whatsoever at winning this thing? And can she make it to the top two?
Check out an interview with Sara here.