Last Night on Hell’s Kitchen, Season 9 Episode 1: Surprise!

Last night on Hell’s Kitchen, Season 9 opened with a little twist. The 16 new contestants were taken by bus to the Orpheum Theater in LA. There they were fussed over and ran through hair and makeup and brought up on stage. The MC announced: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE WELCOME THIS SEASON’S CONTESTANTS OF HELL’S KITCHEN. There was wild applause as the curtains rose. Their excitement was palpable, even to me, sitting at home on my couch.

The curtain finished its ascent to find… an empty theater, with just Chef Gordon Ramsey standing there, slowly applauding with obvious sarcasm. Talk about bursting their bubble early. This was a new level of cruelty, even for him. He informed the upcoming chefs that they had not earned the right to be considered stars yet. But the winner of Hell’s Kitchen this season would be the Head Chef at New York City’s prestigious BLT Steak. He then sent them back to the Hell’s Kitchen to make their best dish they knew how for their first test.

As always, it’s Men (Blue Team), vs Women (Red Team). First up: Carrie vs Will. Carrie found out that you DO NOT put sugar in mashed potatoes, despite what her mother taught her. Point, Will. Next, Amanda got high praise for her rollatini and polenta, while Brendan got points for his salmon. They each got a point for that. And so it went. Until Ramsey got to Jonathan, who’s plate of chicken made him ask what the hell he was looking at. He actually had the gall to use canned pineapple over chicken. It was so bad, that Ramsey offered him a ticket home to Memphis. Canned fruit??? Really?? The nerve.

Ultimately, the men won with a taco dish, of all things. Their reward was to have lunch at LA Market with last season’s winner, Nona (who lost a ton of weight and colored her hair a nice blonde since her victory last year). The women’s team had to stay behind and start preparing for dinner.

As the men came back to start working on dinner prep, one of the guys, Jason, a larger guy to begin with, started having some serious medical issues. He couldn’t breathe and was getting dizzy. The medics came in and threw an oxygen mask on him. After Jason was whisked away in an ambulance, the remaining chefs reorganized themselves and continued dinner prep.

At one point, Ramsey came in and informed them that Jason would not be back for a few days.

Then it was time for James to open Hell’s Kitchen. I still miss Jean Phillipe and hope this new guy develops a personality soon. He was the maitre de’ last season and quite honestly, it could have been any mannequin in the position and it wouldn’t have mattered. JP argued with chefs?, made fun of Chef Ramsey, and had become an integral part of the show. He is missed.

Chef Ramsey’s first victim of the night was Monterray, who had a problem getting the garnish up to the pass too quickly. When Gordo asked him about it, his response was, “Sorry Chef, but I’m time challenged sometimes.” Excuse me! Time Challenged. Monterray will now be known as TC for short.

In his own personal effort to stop wasting food, which I heartily applaud, Chef Ramsey has started making his contestants eat their undercooked dishes that they bring to the pass. In the past he would have thrown it in the “bin”, or on the floor, or at the chef?. This is a much better solution and one they may actually learn from. On three separate occasions, he had contestants from the Blue team sitting in Time Out seats, eating what they cooked. And two of them were scallops. I see a trend here.

On the Red Team, Elise was relegated to the chef’s table because she refused to stay at her own station. What the hell was she doing, anyway? She said she put up spaghetti so now she was free to move about like a free agent? She learned very quickly that Gordo does not appreciate such overt attempts at trying to make people look bad.

On a good note, which were few and far between last night, Jonathon, of the earlier canned pineapple trickeration, has now served up a near perfect beef wellington to atone for his earlier transgression.
Soon, Jim, our non-Jean Phillipe replacement, came to the pass to inform Ramsey that the customers were walking out of the restaurant. And walking out they were, in herds. As it turned out, not a single entrée had left either kitchen yet.

Predictably, Ramsey closed the kitchen down and told the chefs? how disappointed he was in them. It was one of his worst services ever, blah blah blah. But he said the Blue Team (Men) was just a bit worse. So he told them to go up to the dorm and pick two nominees for him to select one to be sent home.

The Blue Team’s first nomination was Steven, their second was TC. Ramsey agreed, saying they were both worthy nominees. Then he picked a third nominee: Chino, who messed up the fish and the garnish.

Chef Ramsey selected China and TC, to get back in line. He ultimately picked Steven to go home first.
Be sure to check out the next episode of Hell’s Kitchen tonight on Fox at 8:00 PM ET and come back here to TMRZoo on Wed for a recap of Tuesday night’s show.