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Hell's Kitchen: Devil in the White Coat

kitchen4.1.jpgWelcome to another season of "Hell's Kitchen"--and a new Hell's Kitchen blog! Chef Ramsay is back to sadistically torture 15 cocky upstarts hoping to be his new bitch. If last season's wonderful drama wasn't enough for you, this season's packing plenty of it, and then some. Hell, the first episode alone should be enough to satisfy you. It all begins with a montage of last season, presented as if we were watching those trailers in the middle of "Grindhouse". Gordon Ramsay is presented as a vociferous beast out to devour 14 co-eds, only to let the strongest—or luckiest—survive. He's up to many new tricks, in fact, including one devilish surprise for all the contestants.

The aspiring contestants are all getting to know each other, sizing up one another on the bus. Suddenly, a strange man sporting a hippie wig, looking like Howard Stern met a flatiron, joins them. They foolishly assume it's just another chef and begin talking their big talk. Craig is an impish fellow who wears a ridiculously elongated chef's hat (as a means of ascertaining respect) and considers himself to be the next winner. He's so confident, he shouts to the camera "*Bleep* you, *bleep* you…" and so forth. In his Lincoln stove pipe chef's hat. That's basically his articulate way of conveying his power to the competition. Oh, he's going to be FUN. Meanwhile, Bobby finds himself to be the black Ramsay. Oh dear.

When they arrive at Hell's Kitchen restaurant, they are in utopia. Jean-Phillippe greets them all and then proceeds to do an impression of Gordon. He then coaxes the others to follow suit—including the grungy hippie. Lo and behold, this man does the best impression of all. And why's that? Because he's Chef Ramsay in disguise! OMG I NEVER SAW THAT COMING!!! Anyway….

He wastes little time in the laughter that ensues before ordering them all to cook their signature dishes for him. Craig is up first…still wearing that white monstrosity. Chef says his dish is far too sweet and commands him to take the hat off before he shoves it in him sideways. (This show might as well compete for Comedy Emmys.) Up next is Jen. Chef says she has raw rice and can't cook. Corey follows and Chef tells her "This is just what I expected from you. It's simple, plain, blond, and boring." Jason is next, but does not impress. Shayna burnt her meal. And Matt played it risky, mixing white chocolate into his dish. Chef Ramsay instantly spits it out in a melodramatic flourish and proceeds regurgitate us right into commercial.

When we return, Dominic the stay-at-home-dad presents Chef a very simple dish. But it was at least appeasing to his appetite after that last horror show. Rosann follows. She is a receptionist in a law office, who took time off from cooking to take care of her daughter. She cooked a soup and, for the first time so far tonight, Chef is impressed by the dish! He comments her by saying it's well-seasoned and insults the rest by saying "the best so far—by a receptionist in a law office". Rosann giggles gleefully as Petrozza takes the stage. Chef grimaces at a pumpkin, garnished on the sides by greasy onions meant to resemble autumn foliage. Inside is a Cornish hen…and it doesn't please Chef whatsoever. Petrozza wanted to be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

Breezing on through are Sharon (Chef seems to be indifferent here), Ben the electrician ("not bad"—the only guy who came close to impressing him, probably), Christina the culinary student ("good concept, poor execution"), and resident mohawk-sporter Louross (could've done more). And then there's Vanessa. She whipped up a pan-seared halibut…which Chef finds to be the tastiest thing he's had all day.

So far, the women are looking good. Could Bobby, the black Chef Ramsay, change all that? Eh…highly doubtful. Chef scolds him on being "lazy to deep-fry the fish". Bobby still considers himself a four-star general. Chef probably considers him a kiss-ass.

Chef then introduces the two sous chefs who will be overseeing his teams. Gloria will naturally handle the girls' team (Red), while Scott will take control of the boys' (Blue). But they are very laissez-faire managers, thus meaning each team will have to select an individual captain…at their own discretion. They retreat to their dorms and the women immediately select Vanessa. Thankfully, Rosann is a classy lady, because any other woman who was Chef's only other favorite of the night would've had a bitchfit if they weren't at least considered.

Unfortunately, the men are having trouble, because nobody wants to step up to the plate. They spend all night attempting to make a decision and finally, Bobby volunteers. The guys all settle on this decision and head for bed—not even bothering to examine the following night's menu of entrees, appetizers, and so forth. Meanwhile, the women remain up all night studying to be sure they are prepared for service tomorrow. Good thinking, ladies!

Yet in the morning, due to their commitment, the women are chugging along at a tepid pace. Team Captain Vanessa is very sluggish. The guys are slightly more brisk, but the good vibes don't remain for long. When Chef inquires about the entrees, the boys are completely oblivious. Chef goes down the line and is met with a dumbstruck face each time as the women raise their hand, hoping to rescue his finer temper. Fortunately, either Christina or Sharon (they're both cute blondes and blended together in my mind) named all five without hesitation. All is calm once again.

Chef Ramsay announces that for the first time in Hell's Kitchen, one chef from each team will be doing tableside amuse bouches (I'm aware that's not how the French would pluralize it, but Americans like to steal things). Petrozza is chosen from the guys and Shayna is selected from the ladies. As they flambé away, Jason is discovered to be MIA. Oh, but we at home all know…he was smoking up in his dorm. Tsk, tsk, butterbean. This night is off to a very rocky start.

Sharon is handling appetizers, but is moving very robotically. I blame sleep deprivation, but Jen relegates it to a Barbie complex. The men are moving equally as slow, which prompts fiendishly handsome electrician technician Ben to say "put some scoot in your boot". Awesome, Ben, simply awesome.

As Jen attempts to manage and Jason tries to salvage himself, neither side are delivering the scallop and risotto appetizers. Vanessa is called out on poor captaining skills and Rosann takes over. Hooray! She's one I'm rooting for. She's doing a splendid job, whipping the ladies into shape, but is worried Vanessa is mad at her. Fortunately, Vanessa is modest and honest and acknowledges her subpar job and holds no hard feelings. Phew, the last thing the ladies kitchen needs is cattiness.

Meanwhile, the guys are floundering. Dominic couldn't sauté for his life and Bobby is still being a hands-off, encouraging sort of captain. Craig disses him personally to the camera (smart move) as Chef complains about everyone's incapability and Louross "running around, looking like a toilet brush". Oh man, it's a good thing that commercial break followed, because I fell off my seat laughing hysterically. This show is too much…Top Chef meets telenovela. Gotta love it!

When we return, the ladies are taking charge of the night, finally producing appetizers to starving and irritated customers. Jen's risotto is highly complimented and she jigs to the camera in her video diary. How adorable. The girls are "getting their mojo back". As for the guys, Chef has had enough with Bobby and appoints Louross captain after he exhibits some leadership trying to get his team in order.

The ladies steamship begins to sink, however, when Corey's chicken is deemed rubbery. He has the ladies pass it around and then flings it at the wall. And yes, it does bounce off. As these shenanigans occur, Jason at last produces some appetizers, putting himself back in good graces. Sadly, it's too late, as the restaurant patrons begin to file out in disgust. Chef shuts the kitchen down immediately.

While it was hard to choose a losing team, since both were complete disappointments and not a single entrée left the kitchen, the men are deemed the ultimate losers—with Louross being appointed the best of the worst. He is put in the unfortunate position of having to select the worst two chefs to be poised for elimination tonight. Jason is confident that he'll be one of them, but much to his surprise, Louross chooses Bobby and Dominic.

In all actuality, this was a wise choice, as Chef Ramsay seemed to agree. Jason did, after all, just barely redeem himself and Chef noted to him that he "got lucky tonight". Bobby was scolded for his lack of leadership entirely and Dominic for wasting scallops and being unable to handle the pressure of the kitchen. The latter wound up being the first one sent home from the competition, as Bobby was told to "step up."

But if the contestants assume it's going to get easier from here on out, they were sorely mistaken. Next week's previews showed chaos in the ladies' kitchen and the teams being forced to sort through waste bins, seeking whatever they could possibly recycle. Ohhh, what wicked fun! So tune in next week and then stop by Hell's Kitchen Fodder to share your delight…or bask in disgust. -- James De Roxtra

Posted by Rachel Cericola on April 2, 2008 11:24 AM
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Got something to say? Post a comment:

I don't think Dominic had a chance in hell (or Hell's Kitchen), but I think Bobby had to go. He was a horrible leader and cocky to boot!

-- Posted by: rachel at April 2, 2008 11:33 AM

I agree, Bobby should've gone home. His "hands off" approach helped sink the team. And I'm still scratching my head as to why the men's team didn't even bother to learn the menu? Um, doesn't that seem important?

-- Posted by: chris at April 2, 2008 4:03 PM

Great review!

At first I thought Bobby should have gone, but then again - It might be good to see Bobby lose some of his arrogance.
Admitting that he screwed up as Captain was the only thing that saved him, I'm sure (I didn't think he was going to admit it).

-- Posted by: zounds at April 2, 2008 7:32 PM

Terrific review. Both informative & funny to boot!

My favorite contestant is Rosann..cause she's spunky, a single mother, and a tough female that could go far. I was rooting for Julia last season, so seeing an underdog lady win would be great.

Guess it all depends on how things go next week though!

-- Posted by: Marty at April 3, 2008 4:50 PM

Great stuff here, absolutely amazing writing indeed. WoW.

-- Posted by: Nick Plowman at April 9, 2008 12:15 PM

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