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Lots of fun stuff on this week’s Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon was not only bitter, abusive, and surly, but he actually smiled and cracked a few jokes too. Aww. It was like that time in Home Alone when the crazy man with the beard turned out to be A-OK. Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s not like Gordon’s steely facade completely melted, but at least we got a glimpse of that feel-good reality TV that everyone seems to love so much.Speaking of feel-good, the show began on a high note as it recapped the tumultuous fall of Dewberry. Yes, our man-muffin may be gone, but he isn’t forgotten. I could watch his chirpy, proto-Ann Robinson “Goodbye!” all day. It turns out I wasn’t the only one with Dewberry love. Elsie dropped by the wine cellar-cum-confessional (shut up, SIDEWAYS) to say how much she admired Dewberry while outside, Ralph — who somehow reminds me of a real life Hannah Barbara cartoon character — similarly expressed sadness over Dewb’s departure.
Just about the only person not pouring over his Dewberry memory book was Jeff, who was busy moaning in the bathroom. No, he wasn’t masturbating. He was passing his notorious kidney stone, and because there’s always room for urinary tract deposits on cooking shows, Fox was kind enough to zoom in and highlight the little bugger (the kidney stone, not Jeff). Yes, nothing settles the stomach that something that’s spewed out of Jeff’s penis.
Well, since everyone thought Jeff was being a huge hypochondriac last week, he was sure to prove to his nay-sayers that his ailment was real. “Who wants to see a kidney stone?” he asked triumphantly in one of the least appetizing offers in recent reality show history. Not wanting to give Jeff an inch, Jessica, Elsie and everyone else checked out the stone and passive aggressively noted how itsy bitsy tiny it was. Translation: Jeff, you are a huge pussy. Seeing that his plan was backfiring, Jeff tried to gore it up a bit by saying how the kidney was pure meat and this tiny stone was passing right through it. Eh, it’s over Jeff. Just give it up. As Tonya from Real World: Chicago can attest, roommates HATE reality stars with kidney stones.
Anyway, the next morning, the teams lined up in front of a surprisingly calm Gordon, and since Blue was up two members, G-Ram had Michael join Red to even out the numbers. Then it was time for the first challenge. Gordon explained that VIPs could drop into a restaurant at any time, and accordingly, chefs always had to be ready to improvise. Well, for this week’s challenge, the teams would be cooking up a five course meal for a VIP. And who would this VIP be? “That VIP is me!” snapped Gordon. REALLY. I never would have thought! Way to shock America, Gordo.
Nevertheless, the teams needed to hit the supermarket for some ingredients, and amusingly, the producers arranged a big, red, double-decker bus to ferry them to Ralph’s. This was the show’s way of subtly saying “Hey, Gordon is BRITISH! Fish and chips for EVERYONE!! To the theatre!”
Once the teams arrived at the grocery store, those tough-as-nails sous chefs revealed a new twist. Each team would only have $100 to spend. Even worse, they’d only have ten minutes to shop. Okay, now I would have failed this task immediately. Here’s what happens when I go to a grocery store. I step in, spend about two minutes seeking out the random item I need (cream cheese, bread, whatever), get sidetracked by the sushi display (should I get some? Do I really need to spend the extra five dollars?), find my cream cheese or eggs or whatever, amble down a few aisles (hmmm… what am I forgetting?), return to the sushi display (maybe I should get some), check out the frozen foods (Ben and Jerry’s is nice), return one last time to the sushi (okay, I’m gonna get this), quietly stalk down an aisle because I think I’ve seen a celeb (my success rate is about 50%), and then finally check out. What I’m left with: the cream cheese, some sushi, maybe some ice cream, and a random thing that I erroneously think I can integrate into my cooking (guava jelly or some shit like that). Yes, I’m a disaster.
Luckily, the Red and Blue teams seemed somewhat capable of navigating a supermarket; although, at least one aspiring chef had a bad case of wanderlust. You got it — kidney stone survivor Jeff slowed his team down by ambling off in faraway directions (the team had to stay together). Since we, the audience, are such idiots, the narrator piped up to say “Red team is having a problem!” YES. WE KNOW. We are capable of seeing that the Red team can’t harness Jeff. We don’t need you to spell out every. single. thing.
Nevertheless, this supermarket mania reached a climax in the final few seconds as the Blue team realized that it had forgotten the bacon. As the clock ticked down to zero, Ralph tossed the meat into the shopping cart, resulting in a bombastic slow motion shot that for better or worse was annoyingly exciting (I HATE being manipulated!). Mmmm… slo-mo bacon…
Back at the kitchen, the teams slaved over their dishes, with Michael carving out a dopey “H K” from mushrooms on his plate. And no, it wasn’t an ode to Hong Kong. Anyway, at long last, Gordon was ready to receive his gourmet meals. I really don’t want to detail every single dish that was served, but suffice it to say, Gordon surprisingly loved Jeff’s soup (secret ingredient: pureed kidney stones. Ew. That was gross, and I apologize). Anyway, this was a big victory for Jeff because he’d been yapping away about this soup for the past ten minutes of airtime. I’m surprised our loquacious narrator didn’t pipe up and say “A big victory for Jeff!” No, for that sort of obtuse narration, we only had to wait for Wendy’s salmon and bok choy. When Ramsey complimented her and said the dish was quite nice, the narrator cooed, “Clearly a big moment for Wendy.” Yes, narrator, with the emphasis on “CLEARLY!”
Not having such a wonderful moment was executive chef Chris whose poached sole over cauliflower elicited the always enjoyable forced insult from G-Ram: “It’s the sort of shit you serve to your sick rabbit.” Oooh! Slam! Wait, that makes no sense at all. Do sick rabbits eat crappy cauliflower? What about the rabbit’s health makes this food “shit”? Why didn’t Gordon simply call Chris a “plank” again?
Perhaps inspired by Gordon’s cheeky put-down, the narrator returned with his pun cap on as he said, “Since Chris’s fish floundered…” Oh, that is RICH! You go, narrator! Here I thought you were just this intense, humorless voice. But you just made a funny! Fish? Floundered? Oh, I’m going to write to Jay Leno about that.
Next up was youngin’ Andrew whose nice little rib eye was topped with white peaches, per Ralph’s request. When asked about the odd combo, Andrew said he chose the peaches because “I thought they looked pretty.” Toucans are pretty too, but we don’t eat those. At least, I don’t think we do. Do we? I mean, I’d try it. Never mind. Well, prettiness be damned. The combination of peaches and steak caused Gordon to angrily reject the dish, and for once, I felt like his overly animated hissy fit was deserved. Luckily, Michael’s grilled porterhouse with its clever Hell’s Kitchen mushrooms put Gordon back into good spirits (basically, he smiled when he said “asshole”). Finally, it was time for dessert, and Mary Ellen managed to impress Gordon with her trio of crème brulee. That’s all well and good, but whither the endives, Mary Ellen? Have you lost your mind??
Ultimately, Gordon anointed the Red team the winners and rewarded them with a night out at Los Angeles’s very own Cat & Fiddle pub. For once the grumpy cook appeared happy and smiley as he downed a few pints of Guinness. Jeff, meanwhile, imperiled all those around him as he attempted to fling darts at a dart board. Is it me, or should Jeff never be allowed to handle sharp, airborne objects?
Sadly for Jeff, this night of libations and darts proved to be his high point on this culinary adventure as the next day brought him nothing but bad fortune. First he burned Elsie by leaving a scalding hot tray on the counter unguarded. Next he felt the wrath of his team as they accused him of being sloppy and inefficient. Chris in particular tried to set Jeff on the straight and narrow, but their discussion rapidly devolved into Chris yelling “Can I finish? Can I finish? Why are you leaving?” and whatnot. Later, in the kitchen again, Jeff proved to be even more incompetent as we caught him with what appeared to be half a yam shredded and smushed on his sleeve. What the hell was he doing? Karate chopping a squash?
Eventually Michael had to come in and save Jeff’s ass, thus raising the ire of sous chef Mary Ann, a.k.a. Asia’s answer to Martina Navratilova. “Say ‘Thank you, Mike.’ Say ‘Thank you, Mike,’” she mocked, causing Jeff to finally snap in what will surely be a Best Week Ever moment. “What do you want me to do?” he complained. “I’ve never been on a f*cking line before! I’m doin’ it! I’m trying!” This of course brought the wrath of not just Mary Ann and Gordon, but the entire Red team as well. Seriously, this guy is a gigantic idiot. It’s like he’s the kidney stone to reality TV.
Nevertheless, it was time for the dinner service, and unlike previous nights, two food critics would be dining at the restaurant. Surely these novice chefs would rise to the occasion? Eh, not so much. Space cadet/perfectionist Wendy was hindered by not only pasta, but the finer points of basic chemistry. “I thought cold water was supposed to boil faster than hot water,” she told Gordon, who was so shocked, he could only say “Whaaaa?” Unfortunately, the narrator did not speak up and explain, “In fact, warm water boils faster than cold water.” Nor did the narrator throw in a simple pun like “Gordon’s reaching his boiling point.” Seriously narrator — way to drop the ball.
Anyway, out on the floor, the critics were not too happy with their risotto. But here’s the real question: how did the less refined palates of the common Hell’s Kitchen folk enjoy the meal? If your answer involved “puked at the table,” you win! Yes, some poor lady took one bite of Andrew’s risotto and immediately began hurling under the table. Now that’s what I call a ringing endorsement. What did Andrew do to this dish? Lace it with charcoal? Well, in case you couldn’t anticipate it, Gordon flew off the handle and reamed out Andrew with all the spit-covered rage we’ve come to expect. And this was before he learned about the vomiting. Rimshot! Here all night folks. Tips in the jar…
Faring even worse though was Jeff who managed to screw up… AGAIN. “MOVE YOUR ASS!” yelled G-Ram with such ferocity that I thought he too may have been passing a kidney stone. Well, this is when things got really good. After enduring Ramsey’s hoarse tirade, Jeff simply replied, “You’re an asshole.” Dunh dunh DUNH! At that moment, I seriously thought Gordon would whip out a shotgun and simply shoot off Jeff’s head. Truth be told though, G-Ram didn’t even hear Jeff, but Mary Ann did. In a scene wildly reminiscent of my third grade classroom, the irascible sous chef instigated a conflict by prodding “Why don’t you say that louder? Why don’t you say that louder?” Hey Mary Ann: I know you are but what am I???
Eventually, Jeff told Ramsey to his face that he’s an asshole and then angrily walked off, never to be seen again. With all this chaos in the kitchen, the food ground to a near halt, and despite admirable showings by Michael and Ralph on their respective teams, only a few entrées had trickled out of the kitchen. You know what that means: time for the customers to get rowdy! Unlike the previous weeks, no one was dumb enough to approach Gordon in the kitchen, and there were no shrill Paul Giamatti types to start fights with the maitre’d, but at the very least, one persnickety woman declared “I’m over it!” and poured her wine out over the table. Wow. That’s a really dumb and nonsensical reaction. Why would she do that? Oh that’s right. TO BE ON TV. The least she could have done was start a cat fight with another table. Now that would have been fantastic.
Anyway, Gordon eventually shut down the kitchen and based on the critics’ comments, announced the Red Team the victors. Ralph, meanwhile, was chosen to nominate two people. This of course led to footage of Ralph sitting around thinking while the narrator stated, “Ralph’s having a hard time.” SHUT THE F*CK UP YOU DUMB @#$*@!!! Seriously, have these producers even seen the way other reality shows operate? How is it that Big Brother can survive without a narrator but this show can’t go one frame without some disembodied voice saying, “Jessica is picking up the salt shaker. This is because Jessica needs the salt.”
Speaking of Jessica — a.k.a. reality TV’s Elroy Jetson — many tears were had as imminent departure loomed over one of her teammates. Luckily for her, she was safe from elimination as Ralph nominated Wendy and Andrew. Gordon agreed with this choice as he ceremoniously told the two, “You’re both crap.” Surprisingly, Gordon cut Wendy, which was too bad because I really enjoyed watching her bumble around the kitchen. I’m sure we’ll get plenty of drama out of Andrew though, and at the very least, with Jeff and Wendy gone, hopefully this restaurant will get its act together — just for the sake of the poor diners.
What did you think about the episode? Should Ramsey have cut Wendy over Andrew?