Hell's Kitchen: Are We There Yet?
This week... in HELL'S KITCHEN:
This is the time of the season where I rant... and wish it were all over. Srsly. I guess it's a combination of (1) the fact that we are close, but not quite, to the finale; (2) the fact that FOX is still running 2 episodes per week, which is quite frankly a real drag; and (3) Twitter keeps restricting access to some of the older commentary, which means I have to go back to the FOX recaps to refresh my memory.
Not to mention, (4) we are still encountering train wrecks! For a season which got off to such a promising start (completed services each of the first 3 episodes), these last several weeks have been a real disappointment. To Chef, as well as to Yours Truly.
OK, enough ranting… for now. Let's move on to
After having some time to admire their purdy new black jackets (and, one supposes, get some much-needed shut-eye), the six
survivors remaining contestants head down to find out what awaits them in the Challenge. This week episode, they need to prepare food that not only is edible tastes good, it also has to look great. And, they have 30 minutes to get this done. Jay, of course, engages in some trash-talking, telling us how he is gonna win this one. After the dishes are done, they are taken to be photographed. Holli admits her dish doesn't look all that great (she's right). Later (one presumes after sufficient time to make large prints of the photographs), the contestants find their food photos posted in the entryway, and also find that they will be judged - by a group of culinary students, who will select the top two dishes. These will then go heads-up in the tasting round. But now, it's up to the Kitchen, to prepare the dishes - again.
I seem to recall some of the students/judges having the same type of problems identifying food items the contestants had, and Chef letting them have plenty of snark about it. Eventually, the judging is done, and (as expected) Holli's dish doesn't make the cut. Also, Jay's dish gets a low rating (much to his surprise, if not so my to ours.) One by one dishes are eliminated, until the two left standing are... Ed and Benjamin. Their dishes are then sampled by the editor of epicurious.com, who declares Benjamin to be the winner.
His Reward is a pampering (including a facial, haircut, and mani/pedi), followed by a photo shoot for epicurious.com. The Punishment for the other 5 is to make the dining room all sparkly, under the direction of Jean Philippe. Also, to listen to Autumn talk, and talk, and talk, and talk… Oh, and we also get to hear Jay's goals: (1) to win HELL'S KITCHEN, and (2) to get Holli in the sack. For realz. Oh, and by the way, ewwww.
During Prep, the contestants find out that Ben's winning dish is now on the menu, and they figure out rather quickly that it is a very complicated dish. This doesn't bode well for the Service, unless you are into train wrecks that is. To up the stress level a notch, Chef lets everyone know he'll be keeping an eye on them. Also, there will be a VIP dining this evening. At the chef's table.
After Jean-Philippe opens HELL'S KITCHEN, three things become evident: (1) Ben's complicated halibut dish is a real hit, (2) Ed can't cook for ****, and (3) Benjamin can't communicate for ****. Here's a sample of my Twitter commentary from this period:
#hk7 Ed sends up MOAR RAW FISH! So raw, the fish are still swimming.
#hk7 Swim, little fishies, swim! Swim for your lives!
#hk7 Ed: "Why aren't they cooking?" Maybe you need to introduce them to the fire. Fish, meet heat.
#hk7 Chef stops work, introduces contestants to RAW FISH. One woman may give birth b4 her entree is ready.
Finally, Chef has had enough. After being presented with a batch of
incinerated burnt scallops, Mt Ramsay erupts, and with a hearty heigh-ho **** tosses Ed and Benjamin! As they go upstairs to figure out who else to throw under the bus save what's left of their culinary careers, the others settle down, and just in time: Whoopi Goldberg arrives (she's the VIP), and they don't want to disappoint her. Fortunately, they succeed in this, and the fires are put out.
Chef, of course, is not pleased. Not at all. After calling the service "pathetic" and calling out both Ed and Benjamin, he sends everyone up to nominate two for
sacrifice elimination. And the nominees are:
#hk7 Ben nominates Autumn. Jay concurs. Does this surprise anyone (but Autumn)?
#hk7 Autumn: "My team nominated me". Chef: "Why?" Me: "Because they suffered massive head trauma, maybe? Let's dissect them and find out."
#hk7 The second nominee is... Ed. Well, they got that *half* right.
Chef calls them both up to
beg for their lives plead their case to remain. Condensed version: Chef says that Autumn is "getting better", and Ed is "disintegrating" - so Ed is chopped 86'd, and the spiky gods get their first black jacket of the season. With that, we move on to
(Can I go home now?)
In which Benjamin continues to trash-talk Autumn, calling her things like "deadbeat". (Dude, I hope she kicks. your. butt.)
For this Challenge, the contestants have to show they can take ingredients and "add value" to them. They get a budget of $10, and 30 minutes to prepare a "fine dining" dish. Their dishes will be tasted/judged by a panel of 3 food experts, who will grade them by telling Chef how much they would be willing to pay for the dish: the highest price, wins the prize.
The judges like Jay's dish. Jason, however, is in trouble from the beginning, as he bought FROZEN RAVIOLIS - and the judges call him on it. Benjamin's offering of undercooked veg and seared lamb also fails to impress. Autumn is up next, and blows away both Ben and Jason with her veal, but is still a bit behind Jay. Last up: Holli, with ahi tuna. The judges love love LOVE this, and give her the highest price, and the W.
Her Reward: a day poolside at a nice hotel, and a $1000 shopping spree. With Jean Philippe as an escort, and a contestant of her choice to accompany her. She picks… Jay. For the rest, their Punishment consists of having to do the laundry, including ironing the linens.
#hk7 The *real* punishment: Ben and Jason have to listen to Autumn talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk
(OMG make her stop.)
Meanwhile, Jean Philippe and the two lovebirds are having a discussion over lunch:
Yes, it's. that. obvious.
After the shopping spree, Jay and Holli return, then proceed to strip down and get in the hot tub, Just as things are beginning to get beyond PG-13, Autumn shows up to
put a damper on things join in the fun (again, ewwwww), and the fires of romance dim… for now.
#hk7 Autumn plays the role of "person walking on two adults doing it." No wonder she is still being nominated.
During Prep, then during Service, it is Jason's turn to play engineer for all the train wrecks. Seriously, the guy is dangerous with a mandolin, and as slow as molasses. To add insult to injury, Chef decides to play musical stations, throughout the service, so as to force the contestants to communicate. The fish and meat stations prove particularly problematic, as contestant after contestant sends up under-or-over-cooked proteins. Autumn and Holli actually seem to do reasonably well, with Autumn earning praise from Chef.
Ben also has problems, earning an eruption from Mt. Ramsay and the annoyance of Holli for horning in on her station. Then, when Chef steps out and leaves Sous chef Scott in charge, Ben figures this is his chance to show his stuff. Irresistible force, meet immovable object!
#hk7 Sous chef Scott takes over. Train wreck w/Benjamin in 3... 2... 1...
#hk7 Sous chef Scott gets into Ben's face, channels his inner USMC drill sergeant.
Using words like ****, ****, and especially ********. Very. loudly. Ben heads back to his station, with his tail between his legs. Bad maggot.
Chef returns, the service ends on a not-low note, but Chef isn't pleased. He seems to feel that, this late in the game, the remaining contestants ought to be
at least minimally competent doing better. He wants two more nominees. My picks: Ben and either Jay or Jason ought to be the two nominees. Ben wants Jason up. Also Autumn (no surprise there.) So, who's on the block?
#hk7 Nominees are Ben... and Jason. So, who will it be? I think it will be Ben.
And… I was wrong. For, it was Jason who was chosen to join the ranks of the 86'd. However, like Nilka before him, Jason receives some encouraging words from Chef as he hands over his jacket, thus signaling the end of his dream to be the head chef at Chef's shiny new restaurant.
So, what's up next? The teasers seem to indicate that the romance between Holli and Jay continues, and that Chef has to intervene, and that Holli has to cry a lot. Are we going to get a lot of PDA, potentially leading to TMI? Will I be given a break, and only have 1 hour to
snark comment on? You will just have to tune in with me and find out, next week... in HELL'S KITCHEN.
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