Last night on Hell’s Kitchen 2010, episodes 9 and 10, Chef Ramsay kicked off the show with a special surprise for the contestants. He started the day by calling them down to the kitchen and tried to pull one over on them by presenting them with a frozen dinner, while telling them it was a dinner from an expensive restaurant.
It worked. They oohed and aahed over it. Jay said that the chicken was full of bold flavor, another said that it was great. All of them raved over it until he told them what boobs they were and that they were eating frozen food that had been cooked and boxed months ago. There was a little backpedaling and tap-dancing at that point, but he had made his point. You have to trust your taste.
Thus began one of my favorite Hell’s Kitchen challenges: the blind taste test.
First, Fran vs. Autumn: Brussels sprouts. Fran guessed white cabbage, and so did Autumn.
Next was pork tenderloin, which they both got wrong, then Fran guessed a coconut was a potato. Yeah, that was close. Well, they’re both white, anyway. But Autumn got that one right and we were off and running.
After each of the chefs got nearly every taste wrong (at one point Ed mistook trout for canned tuna and Nilka mistook eggplant for prunes. Have these people ever actually been in a kitchen?) Jay finally got eggplant right for the win for the Blue Team. And for the record, they only got 4 out of a possible 16, so I don’t know what they were so friggin’ joyous over.
Their reward: A VIP pass to Sea World, playing with Shamu and some dolphins. Meanwhile, the Red Team’s punishment: emptying out the delivery trucks every time they showed up. So while the Blue Team was swimming with the dolphins, the Red Team was swimming in deliveries. Kudos to Benjamin for at least trying to keep the team’s spirits up through the endless trips back and forth carrying bags of ice.
When the teams were back together, they were given instructions to come up with their own menus. The next night at dinner service the customers would pick dinner from whichever menu they wanted and fill out a comment card. Whichever team had the best comments would win the evening’s service.
The first thing we found out was that as good as Nilka was at cooking steak and beef, she didn’t know jack about fine dining. With each dish Benjamin called out, Nilka showed her increased lack of knowledge. She was really showing how far out of her league she was.
When Ramsay checked the Red Team’s dishes, he was fairly underwhelmed with Benjamin’s main dishes, but utterly blown away by Holli’s desserts. When he sampled the Blue Team’s dishes, underwhelmed doesn’t even come close to describing his reaction. More like blatant contempt. By the time he got to Autumn’s desert, he just threw it on the counter, disgusted. He told them that at least the Red Team didn’t insult him by going that easy.
After some modifications to the menu, the Blue Team was able to get underway when the doors opened, along with the Red Team. In fact, customers seemed to order more from the Blue menu than the Red menu, so whatever changes they made, worked.
Things were moving along swimmingly, with Ramsay only having periodic spasmodic outbursts, until Fran sent a raw chicken to the pass. That sent him close to the edge. Immediately after that, in the Blue kitchen, Autumn sent a raw pork loin to the pass and he got a bit closer to the edge. When she asked if the pork was still too rare, the next sound that could be heard was AHHHHHHHHHH, which would be Gordon Ramsay going over the ledge.
At that point, he made Autumn leave the kitchen and go into the dining room to the table and explain to the diners that it was her fault the pork wasn’t ready yet. Interesting way to handle the situation. But she was probably happy that she got out away from his wrath for a minute. Even having to face customers had to be better than listening to that madman for two minutes.
It must have been pick on Autumn night, because just a few minutes later, Ramsay slammed her for being too slow and just not caring. This will almost certainly prove to be a death sentence later.
Jay finally had enough of her perceived slowness and took her off meats and put her on deserts. Ramsay liked this move and told Jay that he should have done that two hours earlier. Ouch.
Back in the Red kitchen, Fran just cannot cook a damn chicken to save her life. She continued to send raw chickens to the pass.
Somehow, both kitchens made it through service without killing anyone or giving anyone salmonella (actually, that amazes me every week).
At the end of service, Ramsay told both teams that they were both pathetic and that they both lost. They each had to select two nominees for him to choose someone to send home. Again, they blew smoke and insults at each other. And again, nothing was said that could possibly make the next service better. A whole lot of “I’m great, you suck…”
Finally, back in front of Ramsay, the Blue Team selected Autumn because she was terrible on the meats and she really held the team back. The Red Team selected Fran (big shock there).
Autumn said regardless of her mistakes, she put out a lot of food (didn’t matter that it was raw). Ramsay told her she had become an embarrassment to the Blue Team. Fran said she was up there because the communication was terrible. But that didn’t explain the raw chicken.
Ultimately, Chef Ramsay sent Fran home, and sent Autumn BACK to the Red Team. Now that was a surprise. I was sure he was sending them both home. Heaven knows they both deserved to go.
On the second hour (yes, we were graced with another hour, again), the Red Team welcomed Autumn back with open arms, a huge improvement over Fran.
The next morning, the teams were introduced to some enormous 10 pound lobsters and were told that they had 45 minutes to come up with a lobster dish that will “blow his mind”.
Since Red Team had 4 chefs (?) to Blue Team’s 3, they had to sit out a chef (?). They tasted each dish and decided to sit out Nilka’s. Chef Ramsay then introduced three Michelin Star chefs that were going to judge the competition instead of him. After a quick three rounds, it ended in a tie.
For the second time in three weeks, Chef Ramsay had to break the tie. He selected the best overall dish, which was Holli’s, and the Red Team won. Their reward for winning was an afternoon in a caviar distribution center (feh), and a shopping spree with a thousand dollars. For losing, the Blue Team got to clean the entire dorm from top to bottom.
Holli let us know that she has been locked in a dorm for weeks and was ready to go crazy, and she didn’t even need the caviar aphrodisiac. Meanwhile, she was eyeing the caviar center host like he was caviar on a cracker. This is an interesting girl, with seemingly few inhibitions. It was only a couple of weeks ago that we learned that she has the largest porn collection of anyone she knew, and has even made a few home made movies. That’s something we don’t want to forget about. I know I don’t.
OK, fun time over. Back in the kitchen, and ready for service. Gordon lined the chefs (?) up to tell them that the kitchens are going to be combined into one kitchen, and they had two hours and thirty minutes from start to finish because all of the guests had theater tickets.
Right from the start, Nilka brought up raw scallops up to the pass. She recovered and her next group was better.
But, then she brought raw fish up to the pass and that was holding up everything. She looked moments away from a nervous breakdown. Then she brought lobster up to the pass, but it wasn’t lobster. I’m not even sure what it was. Chef Ramsay brought her back into his “Special Room” and kept asking her what was wrong with her. She kept crying and told him that she didn’t know. He told her that if she didn’t get a grip, she was out. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Jay jumped in and decided to be a leader and help her out. But then I was very confused when Ramsay started yelling at Ed about his asparagus and said “Look inside your pants at the asparagus!” I’m not even quite sure what that meant, or why he would say it. It wasn’t until several minutes later that I realized that Ramsay was actually telling Ed that the asparagus in his pans was burning and to “Look in his PANS at his asparagus!” Well, didn’t I feel silly. Imagine how Ed felt.
And, once again, Nilka brought undercooked lobster to the pass. Finally, Chef Ramsay had enough of Nilka and her raw food. He not only told her to get out of the kitchen, but also told her to take her jacket off and go home. She wasn’t having it. She wailed, ‘No, please Chef! Don’t say that!” and picked up one of those plastic “Floor Wet” signs and hurled it. Yeah, only a little dramatic. It was like he had just told her that her best friend was killed by a runaway shrimp boat. No, she was not a happy camper.
But then Nilka came back, not taking “get the F@#k out” for an answer. No matter what Chef Ramsay said, or how many ways he said, “Get out of my kitchen!” she responded with, “But I want to cook. I don’t want to leave.” He enlisted the help of the other chefs (?), and she finally left. You have to admire her tenacity, I guess.
The chefs (?) finally completed dinner service and got the diners out in time for their show. As for NIlka, Chef Ramsay met her at her cab and told her to leave with her head held high and she did well, but not well enough to be the head chef at Savoy.
Back in the kitchens, he told the chefs (?) that they had their best service to date, but still had to pick two people for him to pick someone to send home.
For the first time, the chefs (?) didn’t throw knives at each other, because they all actually did pretty well and it wasn’t easy to pick someone. Too bad Nilka wasn’t still around. That would have been an easy pick. But eventually they managed to pick a couple of nominees. The first nominee: Ed. Because he slowed down on his station and needed help. Good a reason as any, I suppose. The second nominee was Autumn, because she is the weakest cook on both teams. At least that was a legit reason.
Ed told Chef Ramsay that he’s not giving up and he’s going to keep battling. Autumn said that she did a good job in this service and she showed that she can bounce back. Well, she’s been up there about ten times, and she’s certainly shown resiliency, if nothing else.
Chef Ramsay told Ed to take off his jacket, then tricked him and gave him his black chef’s jacket for a Final 6 spot. Then he called down each of the last 6 chefs (?) and gave them each their black jacket. I’m still not convinced that any of them have actually earned the right to wear the black finalist’s jacket, except for maybe Jay and Holli (who can apparently really cook in the kitchen as well as the bedroom).
I’m still holding out hope for Benjamin, but he needs to shut the hell up and start putting his money where his mouth is already. Jason looks like he might have some real talent if given half a chance. And Ed may be able to hold his own, but may not be able to go up against Jay or Holli in any competition.
And Autumn… What can I say about Autumn at this point? She has had more chances on this show than anyone I think I’ve ever seen. Chef Ramsay must really see something in her or he’s setting her up for a huge fall when she goes head to head against any of the others. Jay, Holli, Benjamin, or Jason would tear her up in most competitions. The next couple of weeks will be interesting.