Hell’s Kitchen

2016 To Watch

It’s officially 2016, we’ve sufficiently celebrated and then retreated to the comfort of our couches.  Let’s get to what’s important here: what we can watch in 2016!  Here’s the TV I cannot wait for in the immediate future:

January 10th, Shameless (Showtime) | Originally, this was set for January 17th (which I remember because it’s my birthday!) but I can’t complain that we’re getting season 6 a week early!

January 15th, Hell’s Kitchen (Fox) | This is always a favorite of mine, as big of a Gordon Ramsay fan as I am.  I’ll likely be keeping up with this one on Hulu, though it’s made appearances on the blog before.

January 24th, The X-Files (Fox) | There are literally no words for how I feel about this show’s return.  I should honestly be setting my DVR now, but this show will have a Monday night time slot which means I should be home to watch each week.

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No words.  [Via]

February 2nd, American Crime Story (FX) | As obsessed as I am with AHS, I always figured I would watch this show.  I’ve seen a preview here and there for the The People v. OJ Simpson and I literally cannot wait.  I was super young when this happened, but I still remember it on the news.  Should be interesting!

February 14th, The Walking Dead (AMC) | Happy Valentine’s Day to me!  I love The Walking Dead and I’ve missed it so.  February seems like a while to wait for this mid-season return, but things could be worse.

February 21, Girls (HBO) | My Sunday night ritual!  Doesn’t Girls usually return in January?  The wait for this one has definitely been long, but I’ll be tuning in and definitely recapping for the blog!

What’s missing?  Oh, just a few shows I can’t live without!  Game of Thrones, obviously, which is set for April 2016.  Also, Orphan Black which is set to have season 4 pop up this year too.  Finally, probably my favorite show of 2015, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, should be coming back to Netflix for season two this year!

What shows are you looking forward to?!

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HK14: Winner Chosen!

Credit: Patrick Wymore/Fox via US Weekly

Credit: Patrick Wymore/Fox via US Weekly

So Hell’s Kitchen season 14 has a winner and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Atlantic City has a new chef– Meghan!  So how did we get here?

Final Four

Yup, I’m an episode behind.  So before T and Meghan battled it out, there were four.  Milly and Michelle were still in the mix.  There was the first ever (for real!) Hell’s Kitchen vegetarian challenge.  Meghan FINALLY won one!  She took T along for her reward which included parasailing!

All of the chefs get a reward in the forms of their family visiting.  Michelle sees her boyfriend and sister.  Meghan’s mom comes.  T gets to see her girlfriend and daughter.  Milly is visited by his girlfriend and son, Milly Jr!

Then dinner service is upon us and each chef takes a turn at the pass.  Sous Chef Andi prepares quality control tests for each of them.  Milly misses his first one saying Chef Andi’s lobster risotto was delicious… it was, but it was crab in there instead of lobster!  Meghan misses hers too mistaking sea bass for halibut.  Michelle misses hers too, not realizing that broccoli has been switched in for cauliflower.  T is the only one who spots her well catching lamb in what should’ve been a beef Wellington.

It’s hard to see Milly go because he has such a good heart.  Even Michelle grew on me, especially with her Harry Potter reference in this episode.  It is nice to see two girls in the finale.  Meghan and T are the

Top Two

Alright, this episode was cute.  First, T and Meghan take a trip to Vegas with season 13 winner, Christina.  After that, Chef Ramsay sends his Rolls Royce to take them to “his house.”  They are greeted by Tana and Tilly (could Chef Ramsay’s youngest daughter be any freakin’ cuter?!) and there are pictures of Ramsay’s family around and everything… but it isn’t his house!  It’s the scene of the final challenge.

T and Meghan get an hour to prepare 5 dishes: a cold appetizer, a hot appetizer, a fish dish, a chicken dish, and a beef dish.  Five guest judges come to taste a course apiece and score them out of 10.  The judges include the likes of Hubert Keller and Wolfgang Puck!  T wins the challenge and gets to pick her brigade first.

T’s red brigade includes Milly, Nick, Adam, and Christine.  Meghan’s blue brigade includes Michelle, Alison, Josh, and Randy.  Neither Meghan not T are in their old colors, though–  they are given their executive chef jackets before service!  And they cook!

As usual, the winner is announced by the opening of a door.  I can’t say I was surprised when I saw Meghan’s door open.  She was consistent throughout.  I think I’d have preferred T, to be honest, but she was so gracious at the end saying she doesn’t feel like she lost, just that her opportunity hasn’t arrived yet.

What did you all think of this season of HK?!

HK14: Final Five

I’ve only just realized that I’m an episode behind thanks to a double a couple of week’s back.  We’ll make up ground, don’t you worry!

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This week’s (for nikkisee purposes!) Hell’s Kitchen featured the final five chefs in black jackets: it’s just T, Meghan, Michelle, Milly, and Nick.  Now that there are so few, we got out first true individual challenge!  The chefs come downstairs to a private orchestra concert put on by students from UCLA.  Each chef is charged with creating and serving a small plate for all the guests.

  • T tries to play to her crowd by serving lobster.
  • Michelle makes a meatball.
  • Nick makes chicken skewers.
  • Meghan makes lamb lollipops.
  • Milly makes Cajun shrimp hush puppies.

The serve on color-coded plates, but get to work the room.  Chef Ramsay actually doesn’t taste their dishes.  Instead, it’s all up to the guests’ votes!  Ramsay announces last place first.  With only 3% of the votes, that distinction belongs to T.  He then announces the winner with 53% of the votes: Milly!  He does mention that Meghan came in second with 18% of the votes.  Everyone is happy for Milly’s win because he is just so likeable!  For a reward, he takes a helicopter tour of LA.  He gets to bring someone with him and picks T.  Meghan is mad at this because 1.) she came in second and 2.) she’s never ever left to enjoy a reward.  That says something about you, if you ask me, Meghan.

Dinner service as the black team does not go as well as it did the week prior.  Though the dining room is, as usual, filled with celebrities, (hey, Charo!) there are also two special diners: sous chefs Andi and James, who Ramsay has given the night off.  Each black jacket chef takes a turn being his sous chef.

  • Milly starts the night off in the sous chef position.  With Michelle on fish, he catches a scallop problem and does well.  He then switches places with Michelle for her turn.
  • Honestly, Michelle is annoying at the pass.  She keeps yelling “pick it up!” over and over and over.  She catches the same scallop problem from Milly before handing the job over to Meghan.
  • Meghan does well, as expected.  Milly once again has problems with scallops that earns the group a trip to the walk-in with Chef Ramsay.  Nick has some problems on meat too.
  • T’s turn also goes well.  The scallop problems are fixed.  Nick’s problems are not.  T calls out the all-day and an order that Ramsay’s called out 4 times… somehow, Nick missed all of them.
  • When T takes over Nick’s station, it’s a disaster.  Nothing is there, nothing is ready.  It’s 12+ minutes on orders because they’ve not been started.  They run out of Wellingtons because of Nick’s mistakes.

It’s obvious to the team that Nick should go up for elimination.  Nobody wants to send Milly, even though he’s the obvious second choice.  They pick Michelle “by process of elimination.”  Ramsay doesn’t accept this and brings Milly and Nick up.  Nick is eliminated.

We’ll cover the final four AND the winner next week!

HK14: Taste It, Make It

The six chefs in Hell’s Kitchen are all looking great in black!  They come downstairs to an elaborate chemistry set up.  Chef Ramsay holds six test tube with the essence of flavors in each.  He hands them out to the chefs to see if they can identify them.  Michelle can’t quite get enchilada from hers, but it’s obvious once Ramsay tells her.  Josh guesses correctly that his is pumpkin pie.  Meghan comes close calling her cheeseburger as steak and cheese.  Nick says roast beef at first, but quickly realizes his is spaghetti and meatballs and corrects himself.  Finally, Milly is able to easily identify lasagna.  Of course, that wasn’t the challenge.

It’s Taste It, Make It!  The chefs pair up for this challenge and they choose their partners.  Nick & Michelle identify the components of Ramsay’s dish as sea bass, a splash of soy sauce in the broth, and lobster in the dumplings.  Milly and T identify the components of the dish as sea bass, sake in the broth, and shrimp in the dumplings.  Finally, Josh and Meghan go with halibut, sake, and lobster.

All the dishes turn out great, but Ramsay says that you must get the protein right to win.  This knocks out Josh and Meghan.  The broth will then decide the winner of the competition.  The soy sauce wins!  Meghan and Josh take a tour of Long Beach, CA in a car that drives right into the water and becomes a boat!  They then enjoy themselves on the Queen Mary where they take in a meal and a sunset.

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The losers get a bit of a reward in their punishment.  They prepare 150 lbs of mashed potatoes for Midnight Mission.  Milly breaks down, remembering times where he had to turn to sure a charity.  All the chefs are happy to donate their time to the cause.  However, they also have to deal with HK’s recycling.  Through both parts of the punishment, Josh is characteristically terrible.  “We’ve already got to deal with trash, now we’ve got to deal with a dumb ass too?” vents Milly.

Josh’s dumb ass-ery does not end in punishment.  He’s fighting with the team right up through service prep.  Luckily for him, service has other distractions.  Michelle starts off with a stupid mistake, plating salads on plates instead on in bowls.  Nick sends a cold lobster tail causing Meghan to refire a risotto.  Tatum O’Neal joins the chef’s table and is honestly pretty awful.

Josh gets frazzled, though.  He makes all these weird noises and talks to himself to the point where Ramsay asks, “What’s wrong with that guy?”  He sets a huge fire.  He undercooks lamb and chicken, but fixes them and honestly his meat is pretty on par… save for the Wellington Tatum sends back.  She’s awful, though; that wasn’t his fault.

In spite of Josh’s craziness, service goes really well and Chef Ramsay is really pleased.  He doesn’t feel like sending anyone home, but of course, he must.  He tasks the chefs with nominating two among them.  Because there were so few mistakes, Josh and Michelle were really the only people to nominate for the evening.  Thankfully, Chef Ramsay finally eliminates Josh!  He’s been slipping lately, according to Ramsay, and his absence will definitely make the new black team stronger!

Are you as glad as I am that he’s gone?!

Any favorites for the win?

HK14: Keys, Steak, and Black Jackets

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Anyone who’s watched Hell’s Kitchen before knows that “7 Chefs Compete” is when the black jackets come out.  It’s the list time the chefs compete as Red v. Blue.  Now, we’ve gotten to see a lot of individual work this season, which I love, but we’re about to see a lot more.  Let’s talk about the last team challenge and steak night.

Unlocking Flavor

Chef Ramsay gives us some loose metaphor about the key to flavor or something like that for steaks to set up the challenge.  It’s a fun one, though!  There are a bunch of lockers, only some of which have cuts of meat inside.  Chef Ramsay throws a bunch of keys up in the air and the chefs scramble to find ANY cut, let alone a good cut.  They have 35 minutes total to find and cook their steak.

It’s king of the hill style judging, as Ramsay has the best dish’s chef perched atop a throne; last man sitting wins!

  • T’s rib cap is deserving of the throne first
  • Milly’s New York strip is teetering on the edge of raw; he does not take the throne
  • Josh’s porterhouse is overcooked; he doesn’t take the throne either
  • Meghan’s porterhouse, however, is good enough to win her the throne!
  • Alison’s rib eye is overcooked; she doesn’t take the throne
  • Nick’s New York strip doesn’t win him the spot either
  • Michelle’s flank steak wins her the throne and wins the challenge for the Red team!

As a reward, Red heads to Catalina island, goes on a submarine ride, has a four course meal, and wins a Vitamix apiece!  Blue’s punishment is to break down an entire side of beef.

Steak Night

The next night is the final team service and steak night in Hell’s Kitchen.  During prep, Michelle and Josh argue endlessly about jalapeños.  Things don’t go much better for Red once service begins.  There is a lot of extra stress on the meat station because, uh, it’s steak night!  Michelle on grill and Alison on fish have the most problems.  Meghan on Blue has a refire, but recovers.  Red doesn’t seem to.  They serve half a table, which we all know Ramsay hates to do.  Josh on garnish is a disaster too.

Blue does so well that Chef Ramsay actually delivers black jackets to Meghan, Milly, and Nick in the kitchen!

Red almost gets kicked out mid-service.  Ramsay pulls Alison from fish and installs T.  He then sends in the black jacket chefs to help them finish service.  It’s painfully obvious who lost.

All the chefs together nominate Josh and Alison.  Ramsay wants to hear from someone else: Michelle.  She steps forward and receives a black jacket!  T too gets hers as the strongest chef on Red tonight.  Alison is eliminated, giving Josh the final black jacket.

While Alison did have an atrocious  dinner service, I can’t help but feel that Josh is less deserving of the jacket.  He’s had problems with nearly every member of the newly formed black brigade, and I don’t think he’s much longer for HK.

What do you all think?!

HK14: Blind Taste Test

Not a season goes by without a …Compete Again episode like this one, “8 Chefs Compete Again.”  This episode features another seasonal tradition: the 14th annual blind taste test challenge!  They’ve brought back a recent twist, the teammate dunk tank– 2 correct guesses out of 4 keeps the teammate dry.  The chefs seem to do better this season than seasons past, but the ingredients also seemed pretty easy.  Here’s how it goes down:

Michelle and Meghan sit atop the dunk tank as T and Milly taste to keep their respective teammates dry.

  • Chicken | T guesses turkey, but Milly gets it!
  • Apple | T guesses pear, but Milly gets it right, assuring Meghan will stay dry.
  • Carrot | Both T and Milly correctly identify carrot.
  • Cauliflower | Both T and Milly correctly identify it, meaning Michelle is dry too.

Alison and Randy take their places at the dunk tank while Josh and Nick put their palettes to the test.

  • Lobster | Josh correctly identifies lobster, but Nick guesses crab.
  • Celery | Josh get another right, while Nick guesses turnip.
  • Spinach | Josh guesses parsley, and Nick guesses lettuce sending Randy for a dunk!
  • American Cheese | Both Josh and Nick correctly identify American cheese.

T and Milly mount the dunk tank as it’s Michelle and Meghan‘s turn to prove their palettes.

  • Strawberries | Michelle guesses peach and Meghan guesses pineapple.
  • Macadamia Nuts | Michelle guesses peanuts, but Meghan gets it right.
  • Potato | Michelle finally gets one, and Meghan gets another.
  • Egg White | Michelle and Meghan both correctly identify egg white keeping T and Milly dry.

The last pair switch: it’s Josh and Nick at the tank and Alison and Randy competing.

  • Tomato | Alison and Randy both correctly identify tomato.
  • Oatmeal | Alison gets it right, but Randy says rice.
  • Butternut Squash | Alison guesses yams and Randy says potato.
  • Onion | Alison guesses scallion, which is honestly so close!  Randy says leek, which is less close… and sends his teammate into cold water.

The score is 9:9 and there’s a sudden death tie-breaker with the best from each team: Josh and Milly.  Alison and Meghan take the tank for a little torture.  Josh and Milly both get the first item (zucchini) wrong, so it all comes down to avocado.  Josh correctly identifies it, but Milly sends Meghan for a final dunk sealing the victory for Red!  They win a caviar tasting and a shopping spree!  Blue’s punishment includes setting up the dining room and making sangria for the charity dinner that evening.

Charities Step Up Women’s Network and Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer both had 12-tops for a 5-course dinner.  A chef on each team is responsible for each course and the teams are to work together on dessert.

Michelle and Alison serve up Red's risotto.

Michelle and Alison serve up Red’s risotto.

First course is lobster risotto. Alison is responsible for this appetizer on Red, while Randy is on Blue.  Red does better with this one, especially when it comes to plating.  Instead of 12, Blue plates 16… then 9.  Needless to say, Red gets this course out first.

Josh is responsible for the second course, Tuna Niçoise, for Red and Milly is for Blue.  Under Josh’s direction, all of the tuna gets overcooked.  All of the tuna.  Red has to borrow some from Blue.  Obviously, Blue serves this course before Red.

The third course is pan-seared salmon.  T and Nick are in charge for their teams.  Josh tries to micromanage T on Red, but she ignores appropriately.  Nick is a perfectionist on Blue to the point of delay; Red gets their course out first.

New York Strip Steak, the fourth course, is handled by Michelle on Red and Meghan on Blue.  Josh tries to micromanage again, and again is appropriately ignored.  Randy makes a fuss about the plate problem from his course, but Blue pushes their plates out.  Josh makes plating messy for Red and they follow.

Dessert goes out, but there is a lot of fighting on either side from angry Randy and between T and Michelle.

Ramsay declares that Blue is the winner, by a slight margin.  Red gets together to make nominations.  At this point in time, I am DONE with Josh and his lack of interpersonal skills.  His course was the worst and he got the nomination for elimination he deserved.  Michelle also gets nominated for not listening.  Chef Ramsay says he is sending home the person who did not have control of their course and, more importantly, never bounced back… Randy!

It came as a surprise in the moment, but not looking at the history of this competition.  I do want to see Josh take a hike, though!  Thoughts?

HK14: Homecoming

Eight chefs competed on this week’s episode of Hell’s Kitchen: four ladies on Red and four on men on Blue.  They get an early start to their day when Chef Ramsay calls them into the dining room.  There, they find a huge pep rally for Calabasas High School.

The kids are having their homecoming dinner dance in Hell’s Kitchen and the chefs compete to get one of three dishes on the menu for the evening: a seafood appetizer, a chicken entrée, and a beef entrée.  Abigail, Max, and Georgia of the homecoming committee act as judges:

  • T presents a jalapeño grits and shrimp dish for Red.  Milly present a stuffed shrimp alfredo creole risotto dish for Blue.  Abigail, Max, and Georgia all chose Milly’s dish.  Point for Blue!
  • Meghan presents a chive fettuccine chicken dish for Red.  Randy presents a blackened chicken pasta.  Georgia likes Blue, but Max and Abigail both like Red.  Point for Red!
  • Josh/Nick have prepared a chicken fried steak for Blue.  Michelle presents her filet of beef au poivre.  Georgia goes Red, but Abigail and Max pick Blue sealing the win for the men!

They win a pirate adventure dinner, while the girls have to set-up the room for the Mardi Gras themed homecoming… under the supervision of the committee.  To add insult to injury, they must also string loose beads to make necklaces for all 200 guests.  I assume those Mardi Gras necklaces are way less expensive than buying all those beads.

Top: the winning dishes.  Bottom: the men enjoy their pirate adventure dinner!  Milly makes such a good pirate.

Top: the winning dishes. Bottom: the men enjoy their pirate adventure dinner! Milly makes such a good pirate.

Homecoming dinner service comes and it’s a rocky start for both teams.  T starts by setting the flat top on fire.  Ramsay is as cool as a cucumber in the face of fire– he knows how to quell every kitchen fire and I’m impressed.  Josh tries to serve super alcoholic risotto to 17-year-olds and then serve raw capellini.  After these hiccups, apps roll out fine.  Entrées get a bit of a rough start too.  Milly’s flat top isn’t hot, so they start out delayed.  Randy struggles here and there.  Red is smoother, even though Michelle was assigned to meat and Meghan pushes her off to garnish.  Alison just cracks me up when she takes it upon herself to expedite and keeps yelling “all day!”  Blue finishes service first, but Red is right behind and with a smoother service, they win!

Blue puts up Randy and Josh for elimination.  Josh immediately starts campaigning and badmouthing Nick in offensive ways.  However, no one is getting eliminated.  Instead, Josh and Meghan switch teams!  I’ve been waiting for them to switch it up!  Meghan has already displayed leadership skills… albeit she’s been a little mean, and Ramsay expects her to lead Blue.  All the ladies left on Red are vying for that leadership role and so is Josh.  We’ll see how things go next week!

Thoughts?