Hell’s Kitchen

HK14: One-on-One

After losing two members of the blue team last week, 9 chefs remain in Hell’s Kitchen.  The challenge this week is exotic in nature.  The chefs see a lot of things I’d never like to eat sitting in the kitchen… rats, scorpions, an iguana, a tarantula, and a snake… wait, one snake?  Gordon asks where the other one has gone and a plastic snake rains from the sky startling the chefs.  Because the joke was funny once, he plays it again with several more plastic snakes.

Thankfully, the actual challenge involves exotic proteins that more people are okay with eating: ostrich, alligator, wild boar, and elk.  Only one chef can grab each protein and the slow man to the party, Michelle, picks her protein.  Of course, only one Red alligator can go up to be tasted and Michelle’s gets dropped in favor of T’s.

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Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo come to judge with Gordon:

  • Battle Elk is Nick v. Alison.  Nick earns 2 out of 5’s from each judge; Alison earns a 3, a 2, and a 3.
  • Battle Wild Boar is Meghan v. Joshua.  Meghan gets a 3, a 2, and a 3; Joshua earns a 3, a 2, and a 2.
  • Battle Alligator is Milly v. T.  Milly earns three 3’s; T gets a 3 and two 4’s.
  • Battle Ostrich is Randy v. Christine.  Christine earns 2’s across the board, but Randy’s cleans up with three 4’s winning it for the blue team.

To add insult to injury, Chef Ramsay has the group try Michelle’s, which they all would have given 5’s to.

Blue wins a spa day, and which Randy is the most uncomfortable you could ever imagine a person be in that setting.  Things are worse for Red, though.  They do a deep clean of HK and have to drink special protein milkshakes… made of the proteins they cooked earlier.  Michelle wins the roulette and gets a regular milkshake.  She feels very justified to have been the lucky one.

Gordon then calls each of the chefs in for one-on-on evaluations in his office.  Gordon in his office always cracks me up… like he actually does work on the office set of HK?  Anyway, he chats with each of the chefs about their performances and has each of them rank their team.

After the individual evaluations, he pits the lowest ranked members of each team against each other.  Christine and Randy face off knowing the loser will have to leave Hell’s Kitchen.  They have to make three dishes from the menu: lobster risotto, halibut, and bread putting.

Christine’s performance seems more solid.  She doesn’t realize Gordon’s given them a bread pudding base and whips up her own crème anglaise displaying tenacity.  She has no idea what she’s doing with the lobster, though!  I know this has to do with where I’m from (coastal New England, hi) but I judge people so hard when they can’t break down a lobster.

Ultimately, Randy’s dishes are more complete even though he botches the plating on the halibut.  Christine gets eliminated.

I’m shocked, honestly.  I think Christine has an edge over Randy, and I was sure no one would go home this week.  What did you all think of this dinner service-less episode?!

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HK14: Blame it on the Alcohol

This week’s episode offered a genuine surprise to me!  We start off with six men remaining on the blue team and five women on red.  As usual, we start with a team challenge.

Chef Ramsay speaks of how alcohol can enhance dishes and thus charges each team with creating at least one dish using each beer, wine, and liquor.  This is a fun challenge made even more fun by guest judge and bartender, JOHN RATZENBERGER!  My favorite former mailman (Cliff on Cheers!  Oh, also a voice in every Pixar movie.  He’s awesome!) and Marino serve up the alcohol to the chefs and get to taste the results.  Of course, each team will only present one of each so the chefs must chose which to drop.

Nick's donuts drizzled in caramel, Michelle's soufflé, and Meghan's picture-perfect duck.

Nick’s donuts drizzled in caramel, Michelle’s bittersweet soufflé, and Meghan’s picture-perfect duck.

  • Battle Beer is Michelle v. Nick | Michelle’s beer stout soufflé earns (out of 5) 3 from John, 4 from Marino and 4 from Gordon.  Nick’s sweet potato donuts with stout caramel sauce earns 4 from John, 4 from Marino, and 4 from Gordon.
  • Battle Wine is Alison v. Adam | Alison’s ribeye with plum port earns a 3, 4, 3.  Adam’s lamb with port earns the same.
  • Battle Liquor is Meghan v. Josh | Meghan’s pan-seared duck breast with calvados apple bacon gastrique earns 3’s across the board.  Josh’s pork with bourbon mushroom sauce gets a 3 from Marino, but 4’s from John & Gordon sealing a win for blue!

There’s a roller skating reward for the men and a grueling punishment for the women, and before you know it, it’s time for dinner service.  Someone’s not quite ready, as Bret takes a trip to the bathroom… and literally never comes back.  It’s a crass way to go out as we hear sounds of pain from a closed lavatory door.  Turns out Bret has a pre-existing slipped disc which is pinching a nerve.  Chef Ramsay finds him lying on the dorm floors, where he shakes his hand from above and tells him he’s done.  Bret withdraws.  The rest carry on.

Dinner service has some very exciting VIP guests at the chef’s tables– in red, Jaleel White (Urkel!) and in blue, Fred Willard!  Too bad the men have so much trouble with communication.  Between Josh, Randy on fish, and Adam on meat, the gastropub menu for the night gets butchered.  I’ve never seen so much wasted fish from the fish and chips entrée.  The meat and fish station cannot coordinate their times, but when Adam brings up undercooked lamb for the chef’s table… twice, he gets blue kicked out.

Red has a few problems too.  Alison undercooks lamb too, but recovers quickly.  Christine is good and vocal with Meghan in the dining room– she and Milly serving table-side for the night.  Red is able to finish service for blue too.  They win the night, obviously.

Adam and Randy are up for elimination.  Chef Ramsay wants to hear from Josh too.  Ultimately, Adam is eliminated.

I still think Randy had more problems, but I don’t think Adam was a bad choice by any means.  With a double elimination this week, I’m sure no one will be going home next week.  We’ll see, though!

HK14: Breakin’ Dishes

Well, the interesting scene we saw last week was too good to be true!  As aways, HK spins something to look insane… not like breaking plates for ingredients isn’t slightly insane anyway.

IMG_1471The challenge is Greek-themed, hence the plate breaking to reveal ingredients.  A chef on Red and a chef on Blue each stand in front of a random dome to pick proteins: Joshua and Alison get lamb, Michelle and Bret get prawns, Milly and Meghan get squid, T and Randy get chicken, Sarah and Nick get swordfish, and Adam and Christine get pork.

Each smashes some plates to reveal ingredients.  These are the only ingredients they can use with their protein, but they are not required to use all of them.

Michael Psilakis guest judges and the head-to-head battles are one:

  • Alison’s lamb earns 3 point from Michael and 3 from Gordon; Josh earns 1 point from each judge.
  • Bret earns 4 points from each judge for his prawns, while Michelle only picks up a 1 and a 2.
  • Meghan gets a 4 and a 5 for her squid, and Milly only earns 3’s from each.
  • T picks up 4 and 3 for her chicken, but Randy gets a perfect 10– 5 from each judge.
  • Christine earns respectable double-4’s for her pork, but Adam cleans up with double-5’s.
  • Sarah gets 3 and 4 for her swordfish, but Nick’s 2 and 3 is enough to seal the victory for Blue.

Red cleans the dining room and preps both kitchens for the night’s service for punishment, while Blue enjoys a go kart racing reward with Miss California.

The night’s service doesn’t go much better for Red.  While Blue has a little bit of “Who put the cream in the mash?” controversy and Milly’s spirit is fading, they ultimately bail out Red who gets kicked out of the kitchen again.  It starts with cold lobster from Alison, then burnt butter from her.  Christine’s garnish station sinks all night.  Sarah on the meat station is a disaster with undercooked Wellingtons and overcooked lamb.

Christine and Sarah are up for elimination.

Christine, I have seen improve.  Sarah started so strong, but has fallen far.  There is a brief moment where Ramsay asks her if she thinks she could cook better in a blue jacket, but alas, he’s not seeing it.  Sarah is sent home.

What do you think about Chef Ramsay’s decision?

Next week’s episode promises drama again; hopefully we get it this time!

HK14: Redemption

And now, the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen… I never take much notice that the announcer says that every time.  This week’s episode has two services!

but maybe only 1 correctly cooked piece of fish from the Blue Kitchen

but maybe only 1 correctly cooked piece of fish from the Blue Kitchen

The first is for a biker gang of firefighters.  (I actually couldn’t figure out a way to explain this better… two motorcycle clubs of former firefighters?  That’s better, right?)  The teams do a lunch service for them, and Blue finally wins their first challenge.  They head off for a wine safari, for which Chef Ramsay joins them joking that he thought he’d only be going out with the women.  Nick runs into an ex-girlfriend from high school “when he was straight.”  Hilarious!  For punishment, the ladies have to detail the fire engines and lollipop the chicken wings for the table-side appetizer for the night’s dinner service.

While this is the very first challenge Red has lost, losing is a familiar feeling for them, as they’ve never won a dinner service.  Meghan is determined to change that… but actually, she’s just super angry at her team.

Chef Ramsay pulls her aside before service saying that this is her opportunity to emerge as a leader.  Then, Marino opens Hell’s Kitchen for the night!

There are some problems.  For Blue, it’s the fish station that suffers.  Nick has a rough go on scallops, but it’s nothing compared to Brendan’s fish disaster– he either overcooks or leaves fish completely raw.  “Just get it in the middle and you’ll be right!” complains Milly.  Both Brendan and Nick get kicked out.

For Red, save for a seasoning error out of the gates, the real issue seems to be that Meghan is a bitch.  She’s not exactly being a leader so much as a bossypants, but ultimately the girls finish dinner service smoothly!

In a complete role-reversal, Blue loses and Red wins!  Finally!  Brendan and Nick are both up for elimination, but the answer is clear.  Though he considers himself a well-read chef, Brendan’s skills on the line are just not there and he is sent home.

 

Well, I think both teams sort of achieved redemption this week!  With all the obvious weak links gone, who’s next?

From the absolutely insane preview for next week’s episode, I’ll definitely be tuning in to find out!  Did you see that?!

HK14: 14 Chefs Get Cheesy

This week’s episode of Hell’s Kitchen was 7 versus 7.  The theme of the challenge is what Gordon Ramsay and I both call an essential ingredient: cheese!

A member of Red goes head to head with a member of Blue; one spins a win to find out what dish they duo will compete with.

  • Grilled cheese is a competition between Nick & Monique.  Nick clinches the point for Blue.
  • Enchiladas are prepared by Milly & Meghan.  Meghan takes home with point for Red.
  • Brendan & Alison make croquettes, for which Alison wins another point for Red.
  • Lasagna is made by Sarah & Randy.  Randy gets Blue for his.
  • Adam & Christine compete with cordon bleu.  Both achieve a point.
  • Michelle & Josh face of with manicotti.  Both win points for their teams.
  • Bret & T are the final battle.  T’s calzone secures a victory for Red!

The girls get to spend another day on the water for their victory.  They get to jet ski, which looks like so much fun!  The punishment for the boys is actually kind of awesome, but tedious.  They must break open a giant wheel of parmesan and grate it all for dinner service.

fun.

fun.

For dinner service, Alison and Nick are charged to serve a rustic salad featuring parmesan table-side.  In the kitchen, service starts out smooth for Red.  They hit snags with Monique on the garnish station.  Christine’s raw salmon and Sarah’s raw rice illicit a warning for Chef Ramsay: one more mistake and they’re out!  Blue bumbles too, as Brendan struggles again and again with lamb.  When Sarah and Michelle on the fish station put up re-fired salmon, the fate of Red is sealed.  They get kicked out for the third time in a row.  Blue recovers and is able to finish service.

IMG_7251There’s no question that Red will be nominating two chefs for elimination.  Monique is an easy choice, as she hasn’t had a successful service yet and she’s clearly not a team player.  Christine was also considered for her performance on the fish station, but ultimately Sarah is chosen to go up.  Gordon says she’s cooking like she’s given up, and that seems accurate.  She’s been slipping.  Ultimately, she is a better chef and has more potential than Monique, who continuously blames her team for her shortcomings.  Monique is eliminated, finally.

Meghan seems to be emerging as the leader, while T remains a strong player.  I think without Monique, Red should start winning services.  What do you all think?!

HK 14: 15 Chefs do Family Night

This week’s Hell’s Kitchen felt really long, but not in a bad way– just like, a lot of things went on.  The chefs played Never-Have-I-Ever, there was a big football game (of sorts) and another individual cooking challenge, and then a dinner service.  Let’s get to that football game, shall we?

Chef Ramsay talked about football as an American classic.  (Coming from Gordon Ramsay, I find this hilarious; he played professional football… the kind we would call soccer.)  The challenge for the chefs is to recreate and elevate some American classic comfort foods– mac & cheese, burgers, pizza, and spaghetti.  Footballs are launched in the air with different ingredients on them and the chefs must gather the ingredients they want.  They work in pairs to gather ingredients, as its two chefs on each team to a dish, except for Randy on Blue who works alone.

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When they get around to actually creating their dishes, Chef Ramsay will only taste one.  Red and Blue go head to head and are scored by guest judges Suzanne Goin and David Burke.

  • Bret wins the pizza point for Blue.
  • Meghan gets Red on the board with her burger.
  • Joshua takes mac & cheese for Blue.
  • Sarah wins the spaghetti point for Red.
  • As a tie-breaker, they pick the best dish overall: Sarah’s spaghetti.  Red wins!

Red goes sailing in Long Beach for the day while Blue preps a large shipment of onions as punishment.  Bret is literally so mad that when Gordon’s announcing the reward, he stops saying, there’s only so much pain Bret can take.

Dinner Service is family night and both sides have quite a few bumps.  Sarah starts out with a mistake on scallops that she easily fixes.  Brendan makes 1.2 risottos instead of 2, and when Bret goes to fix it, he pours the old one into the fresh one.  Um, have you ever seen this show before?  That’s a sin in Hell’s Kitchen.

The meat station is where both teams struggle.  Bret must just not know his temps, as a severely overcooked New York strip and some bad salmon force the Blue team to eat their mistakes.  Marino brings them wine, too.  It’s got to be so embarrassing for them.  Red actually fairs worse with Monique and Mieka on meat.  Undercooked Wellington from Monique and raw New York strip from Mieka plague the girls’ team.  When Mieka puts up a steak that’s cooked to death, Ramsay kicks them out of the kitchen.  Blue manages to finish service.

It’s obvious that Monique and Mieka are the weakest chefs on the Red Team and that they both deserved to be up for elimination.  For some reason, (because apparently no one who’s on this show has seen this show,) the girls decide to strategize by putting someone up so they can get rid of Monique: Sarah, arguably the strongest chef in the competition so far.

This, of course, backfires and Monique spills the whole plan to Chef Ramsay.  There’s a moment of shock and horror when he calls Sarah’s name instead of Monique’s, but then sends her back in line and swiftly eliminates Mieka.  That’s what you get, girls.

Mieka deserved to go home tonight, but don’t worry, Monique shouldn’t be around for long.

Thoughts?!

 

HK14: 16 Chefs Go Fish

Sixteen chefs in Hell’s Kitchen are woken up to do a little Alaska-inspired fishing.  In pairs, they chefs are to search for a matching fish head and a fish tail in pools of icy water.

In this, the first part of the challenge, the men win the advantage going into the second part of it.  Each chef is to individually prepare a dish featuring the fish they retrieved.  I love seeing individual cooking skills so early in the competition!  Michael Cimarusti comes to taste and guest judge.  We’ve seen him on Top Chef Masters!

Hell's Kitchen 16 Chefs Compete

L to R, top to bottom: Brendan’s trout, T’s trout, Josh’s salmon, Mieka’s salmon, Nick’s cod, Christine’s cod, Sarah’s cod, Alison’s halibut, Milly’s halibut.

  • In the battle of the trout, it’s Brendan, Bret, Meghan, and T competing.  Bret wins the point for Blue.
  • For salmon, Josh, Michael, Monique, and Mieka face off.  Mieka wins, much to everyone’s surprise as this was her third time ever cooking salmon.
  • The battle of the cod has Randy, Nick, Christine, and Sarah facing off.  Sarah wins the point for Red.
  • Halibut is prepared by Michelle, Alison, Adam and Milly.  It’s derailed a bit since Adam has used the same rice Milly prepared.  Even if the men were the best, this point was going to Red.  It’s claimed by Michelle and the ladies win!

They get to enjoy a day surfing with Anastasia Ashley while the men contend with seafood delivery day.  In prep, Randy cuts himself and ends up taking a trip to the hospital.  He’s back for service, two stitches later.

Although the women are feeling superior going into the night’s service, the reality of it is rocky seas.  Appetizers pose problems for the girls– T burns a pizza, scallops, risotto, and even pasta seem impossible to get right.  Another screw up on their last appetizer of the evening has Chef Ramsay kicking them all out of the kitchen.  Sarah’s plea for them to try again only further enrages Gordon.

Though the men make it a bit farther, they don’t actually have a better night.  A diner finds plastic on his salad of scallops and Michael decides to dangerously hide a smoking pan.  The biggest problem for Blue, and their ultimate undoing is their meat temperatures.  So many undercooked pieces of meat at delivered that Gordon kicks them out too.

For the actual first time ever in Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon pays a visit to the chefs’ dorms out of sheer frustration.  Each team nominates two of their own for elimination.  Red nominates Christine and Mieka.  Blue nominates Michael and Nick.

Michael is ultimately sent packing by Chef Ramsay.

I think there’s definitely dead weight on both teams, but agree Michael was the most deserving of a trip home.  Who do you think is next to go?