Boy when B-side asked me to fill in on the occasional Hell’s Kitchen I jumped at the chance. I loved the first season of Hell’s Kitchen and have been a champion of Gordon Ramsay’s first big television hit Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares since it started last summer on BBC America. For those that don’t know, the second season is running now so set your TiVo’s.
But this is all about Hell’s Kitchen. The surprise hit of 2005. And if it wasn’t I am now declaring that it was. But will a Dewberryless Hell’s Kitchen be as compelling? And now that the narrator can no longer utter “for the first time in the history of Hells Kitchen” every 5 minutes like he did in the first season, will the magic still be there? Well, we may not have the magic of Dewberry but we got a woman with a southern accent and a lisp, and a guy who sweats nonstop. But most of all, the menu once again features…. wait for it…. BLOODY RISOTTO!!! If that’s not summer entertainment I don’t know what is. Also, I heard that J-unit was even able to sit in on one of the dinners and bitched loudly about his lack of succotash, so I’ll be playing “Where’s Waldo” TVgasm style all season long.
So far the show is pretty strong. From what I can tell there are only two downsides. Gordon tends to overdo his yelling shtick a little bit sometimes, and the restaurant is filled with a bunch of wannabe actors angling for screen time. But why quibble? It’s the summer reality TV season baby!!! Well, after hour one we have suffered through our first casualty. Polly, the mother of six. She must now suffer the punishment of spending time with her loving family instead of a loud Englishman hurling indecipherable cockney insults at her. The horror. The hour starts right after the last episode ends and we deal with the other cooks reaction to the first The women are emotional and crying and the men are laughing at them and celebrating. Yeah stereotypes! Then we hear Garrett, the former prison chef, make an analogy about “cutting the women’s throats” in the competition. Gee, that wasn’t awkward at all.
The next morning at dawn the chefs are awakened to Gordon Ramsay’s whispering gently in each of their ears as he tells each and every one of them that they are all excellent in their own way and he has just made breakfast in bed for all of them. Yeah right, its time for some cowbell! Gordon’s “number 2′s”, the first of many excellent double entendre’s of the evening, wake each chef up out of a sound sleep by banging a cowbell in their ears and tells them all to meet Gordon out back by the dumpsters. Cowbell. Awesome. Next week I bet they use a slide whistle, and the week after that a loud comical “BO-OI-OINGGG” or maybe even the noise they make when you guess the wrong price of a can of green beans on The Price is Right. They all frantically throw on what they can and meet him out back. Thankfully there are no season one Ralph like morning boners on display. In fact a few of the girls aren’t looking too bad in their sleeping outfits. This happy moment is obliterated from my head when I see Tom. Tom suffers from one of the more unfortunate fashion faux pa made by fat men all across America. Apparently Tom thinks that if you have a gigantic beer belly, tucking your shirt in so it becomes accentuated somehow a better choice than if you just left the whole thing tucked out. This is Toms belly were talking about, not Angelina Jolie’s breasts. We don’t need to see a skin tight outline of it.
I’m especially fond of Larry’s T-Rex arms
Gordon is not happy. Gordon is never really happy. But this is not just the usual Gordon unhappiness. You see, nothing makes Gordon more unhappy than WASTED FOOD. And that is what these chefs are responsible for. He makes them all empty out the dumpsters in their pajamas and lay it all out on the ground. It’s not the most pleasant of sights. We even get a few girls gagging. Sara tells us that the dumpster smelled like a “festering stinking bleep bleep bleep all combined into one.” Gee, you mean it smelled like a….. hmm what’s the word I’m looking for? A place that smells like it stores large amounts of garbage. Hmmm. Ah well never mind. Gordon warns them all that they cannot waste this much food again.
The man will not be happy until a frozen Han Solo hangs from his wall
After everyone gets washed up and changed it’s time to get to the days challenge. Today’s lesson will also be about waste. Gordon says that tonight in Hell’s Kitchen they are introducing a steak special. He then carts out a dozen sides of beef. Each contestant must cut as many ten ounce sirloin steaks as they can from their side of beef in ten minutes. Gordon gives the go ahead and they all go at it. Larry tells us in the voiceover that he thinks he will excel at this since he is used to working with knives. This means Larry will suck. Also, Veronica the “salad chef” is somehow a little nervous about the challenge. When Gordon tells them times up he first goes to look at the ladies results. Out of all of them they are only able to get 12 good Ramsay approved steaks. Gordon then says “That’s a lot of wasted meat ladies”. I’m not going to make the joke that you are all thinking right now. I won’t cheapen the Hell’s Kitchen name.
Now it’s time for the men. Gordon looks up and says “Giacomo. Please light my fire.” Damn, this show is killing me. If they keep up these double entendres I might blow out my spleen. Alas Giacomo is not able to light Gordon’s fire, his “pilot light” if you will, as he cut a lot of his steaks too thin. Then Larry “I’m good with knives” comes up to bat. And he bats a goose egg. Not one usable steak. Oh Larry, you need to learn to keep you mouth shut. Never upset the reality show gods. Of course I’m sure every single one of them in their pre-interview said the were going to do great, its just that knowing Larry was going to get 0 steaks, it was more fun to show us his cockiness instead of Giacomo’s. Giacomo’s cockiness. God it’s contagious…
Hmm, where Have I seen this before?
That’s it! But something is missing…
There we go.
Next up is Tom and his 12 pounds of sweat glands. He starts to narrow the gap. Will the men be able to jump ahead and beat the women? Cutting steaks? Umm, no. They lose by one. And what is their big prize? The one that Gordon bragged as “phenomenal”? Dinner at a lodge with Gordon. Oh but not just any lodge. A lodge that specializes in game. Yes, eating gamey venison is a “phenomenal” prize to Gordon Ramsay. But then again he also thinks Soccer is a “phenomenal” sport as well, so you learn to take him with a grain of salt.
That night the girls all get gussied up for their big night of quail and rabbit. Virginia is so excited she even gives her hooters an extra nice lotion rubdown. And Rachel is thrilled she gets to mark off “riding in a helicopter” off her 100 things to do in her life list. Picking through piles of garbage on national TV and riding in a helicopter. That’s two dreams realized in one day! While the girls are busy having the time of their lives riding in a helicopter, then men are cutting up the meat it what I can only assume is going to be the largest beef stew in history. Larry in particular is feeling extra down because of his whole “no steaks” thing. Seriously though. Not even one good steak from an entire side of beef? But not to worry, they are psyching themselves up. As Tom is sweeping the he tells the guys that that is what they are going to be doing to the girls tomorrow. Sweeping the floor with them. Oh, no he di’nt! Man if the girls were there to hear that instead of off at a fancy reward dinner with Gordon, they would totally be like “Oh my god I am so gonna cry right now”. Then Tom goes over to the window and says, “See this. We are so gonna Windex those girls tomorrow!” Then he runs outside to the parking garage. “See this. These girls are gonna get the oil change of a lifetime tomorrow!” He is on fire. Then he walks down the street. “See this hobo? Tomorrow it’ll be the women we bludgeon to death and make a skin suit out of them!” What can I say? Tom is committed to his metaphors.
That night when the girls get back they all relax in the Jacuzzi unaware of Tom’s recent smackdowns. The men are busy preparing for the next day and planning on going to bed early. But not Larry. Larry you see, is a ladies man. “My downfall is women” he tells us as he jumps in the Jacuzzi with them, which then displaces about 500 gallons worth of water. Larry’s a big boy. But its good that he was able to get in one last wild night with the ladies, because at 4:20 in the morning, Larry is seen wheezing in the hallway. Things are not good with Larry. Damn those women! They are his downfall! He starts to pant so heavily he is forced to call the paramedics. “I’m sweating and tingling” he tells them, and not in the good way. Pretty soon the paramedics show up and we have our first casualty of the season. And I don’t mean “casualty” in the hypothetical sense. My man Larry is down for the count.
The next morning when everyone notices that Larry is nowhere to be found the phone rings. It’s Larry. He’s laid up in the hospital and he won’t be coming back. The stress was too much for him. He spent the entire night with a 109 fever in the ICU mumbling something about steaks. The men are crushed as they are now left short staffed.
Virginia lets us know in her own way that she is really motivated for tonight’s service. “I’m gonna give it 150 percent. Lately I’ve been giving it a hundred ten, a hundred and fifteen. Today. 150. I don’t care.” This comment is so stupid even the narrator rips on her. Excuse me, for the first time in Hell’s Kitchen, a contestant says something so stupid that even the narrator gets to make fun of her. Veronica then adds that she has decided tonight to use her whole kit and caboodle, whereas before she was just using her caboodle. We saw her oiling it up earlier in the episode.
Gordon greets the chefs and picks out Sara and Keith as the nights servers. Sara is excited but Keith is not as enthusiastic. He wants to be in the kitchen. “This is Hell’s Kitchen, not Hell’s server” he complains. I don’t know Keith, Hell’s server still sounds pretty bad ass. I mean it’s better than Hell’s podiatrist. But still, it’s Keith. All he has to do is turn his cap sideways and he gains instant badassness!
During the frantic dinner service Gordon rambles off a bunch of specials he needs quickly in his thick British accent. When Tom meekly asks “Will you please repeat it?”, Gordon explodes “Move your fat ass and read it yourself!” Tom’s response to this outburst? “Fair enough chef, fair enough”. Then Tom starts to stab his steak saying “See this? This is what I’m gonna do to Gordon!”. Then he starts sobbing. Or sweating. It’s hard to tell the difference. The man is one giant gland. Then literally 5 seconds after that, Gordon tells Gabe to shut up and to not “be so rude.” Does..not…compute. Gabe made the mistake of not listening to the order close enough so Gordon repeats it again and then yells at him “Would you like me to email that to your fucking blackberry!?” Oooh, London snap! Take that you plank!
In the restaurant it has now been an entire hour and finally the first apps are getting out. OK, I know they are new and have lots of communication issues, but how long does it really take to organize and cook a handful of appetizers? Is it really that hard to make a Bloomin’ Onion? Maybe the dipping sauce, since that stuff is liquid gold, but you can make that beforehand.
Then, in between Gordonisms, Heather looks away at the wrong moment and burns her hand. At first I thought it was a simple burn but when you see the look on her face you can tell that she has a serious burn. Even I feel bad at the panicked look on her face as she tries to hold back tears walking around in shock not knowing what to do. Even Gordon drops his gruff demeanor and rushes to her side screaming for Jean Philippe’s help as he shoves her hand under running water. Heather is a trooper during this whole experience. Even with her burned hand in a pail of ice and choking back tears she still starts giving out orders to her station. That’s what I call giving 150 percent! She went the whole 23 yards. She was all that and 2 bags of chips. Once Heather leaves however, the women start to fall apart. Can the men use this opportunity to catch up? On the men’s side, “Tom is on meat” explains the narrator. Sigh… god is testing me, that’s the only explanation I can think of right now. Giacomo has burned the cabbage and no one knows what’s going on with the duck.
Heaven on a plate!
Now its our favorite time of the episode when a wannabe struggling actor rambles up to the chef station to try and see of he can squeeze in a few seconds of air time. You can practically see them reaching for their headshots. Gordon just looks at the man and says “I’m in the kitchen with Muppets!” Ooh, triple sna– wait a minute. What? Did he say Muppets? What does that even mean? And which Muppet? Lew Zeland the man with the boomerang fish or Link Hogthrob Captain of the Swinetrek?
With the women in complete disarray Sara asks Gordon if she can come work in the kitchen. Gordon pauses for a moment and says that that is the best idea he’s heard since he met her. Clearly he wasn’t listening when she called the dumpster a “festering stinking bleep bleep bleep all combined into one.” When Sara hears this she races in the back and we see her ripping her top off to reveal the source of her cooking power. Her D cup breasts.
Gordon goes back to Giacomo and his cabbage disaster. He overcooked it yet still tried to sneak it onto the plates. Gordon saves his best put downs for our boy Giacomo. “Why don’t you become a hairdresser. Ponsing around with women’s hair.” Take THAT Giacomo! I don’t even know what ponsing is but I am totally using it from now on!
With things falling apart in the kitchen, customers are leaving. Sara says that once she got back she felt like their wheels were finally getting greased. That is until Veronica and her tortellini reared its ugly head. The tortellinis are stuck together, making them unusable by Gordon. Gordon looks at her and asks her, rhetorically mind you, “Would you serve that in your restaurant?” Veronica amazingly says yes, she would. Oh Victoria, you have brought down a world of hurt. Gordon stops dead in his tracks, and using the same voice he uses when he catches his 8 year old eating crayons, repeats the question. “I’m gonna ask you again. Would you serve that in your restaurant?” Veronica pauses and meekly responds “I’ll make some more.” Good idea. In the voiceover interview Veronica says “Of course he’s riding me. Like he always rides me.” Unbelievable.
The tortellini disaster is all Gordon can take. He gives the order. SHUT IT DOWN!!!!!!
Well, with another disaster under their belts its time to pick a loser. Heather is back and Gordon singles her out for her courage working the line with a burned hand. He is impressed. The girl has got moxie. She’s got grit. But the nigh was another disaster. It’s not a question of who won, but which team sucked less. The losing team is the red team. Gordon then tells Garrett to go back and put two people up for elimination. Back in the compound, or residence, or wherever they are sleeping, its time for some good old Survivor strategizing. Tom throws Giacomo under the bus regarding the great cabbage disaster of ’06. Tom tells him that the only way he can get some respect is to get a f’in haircut. Grooming tips from Tom. Another reason this show is so good.
When they are brought back before Gordon Garrett nominates Giacomo. Tom smiles in the background. Then Garrett reveals his second nomination. Tom. Tom gives him the glaring of a lifetime. I can’t wait to see what euphemism Tom comes up with to describe what he is going to do to Garrett. When they are before Gordon, Tom says that he promises that he will never make the mistakes he made that night again. Gordon believes him and he sends him back in line. Looks like the ponse is going to get the axe. But wait. Gordon isn’t done. He says he wants to talk to one more individual. Whoa! That’s against the time honored rules of Hells Kitchen!! He has Gabe step forward and asks him why he should stay in Hell’s Kitchen. Gabe says he came here to learn form the best and to be the best. Then Gordon asks Giacomo why he should stay. Giacomo tells Gordon that it’s like he’s trying to grab a greasy potato. But once he gets his greasy potato, he won’t let go. Holy shit this show is insane. Gordon then comes back with “You say greasy potato. I say “Greasy mop’ “. Was that an insult? I honestly can’t tell any more.
Gordon then makes his decision. The person going home tonight is… Gabe. “You’re a sweet guy. But sweet guys don’t make great cooks.” Then Gordon turns to Giacomo and tells him to “Get a grip” Umm hello? Didn’t you just hear Giacomo’s moving story of the greasy potato? Gripping it is his whole mission.
Well another two contestants gone. I admit I was surprised. I figured with Larry out of the picture we’d get a non elimination week. But Gordon likes to trim the fat. He doesn’t like ponsy little Muppet planks with greasy potatoes. I have to say, this episode had it all. Indecipherable insults, bad food, injuries, and lots of gratuitous boob shots. It’s like The View with food.