Thursday, June 21, 2007

Operation Dumpster Dive

"You made what?"

This week between episodes of Hell’s Kitchen I became very inspired and tried to cook a little myself. Well “cook” might be pushing it because I really just put a bunch of stuff into the food processor and turned it on. But I did succeed in creating actual hummus – according to the recipe that came with the food processor. Chez Honey Gangsta is underway! So far there is one item on the menu. I also caught a few minutes of Chef Ramsay on the BBC in his “Kitchen Nightmares,” and realized that he does have it in him to be a very encouraging and helpful mentor. Of course, that side of him only comes out after he has torn his protégés down to a mere sliver of existence. And those little British chefs are much more meager and timid than the Americans in Hell’s Kitchen. I’m surprised they survived at all. Anyway, maybe this week Chef Ramsay can be my TV mentor and inspire me to make something that actually requires heat. Here’s hoping…

We open this episode joining the Blue Team chefs puffing away like chimneys and discussing last week’s elimination. Josh, sucking away at a cigarette, wants to know why Rock nominated him. Rock says it’s because Josh thinks he’s the team leader, but he’s really only a fellow chef. Josh says that’s what Rock thinks (deep inhale).

The Red Team chefs are congratulating each other on beating the guys and a couple of them are also having a smoke. Their apartment must smell great. I’m still kind of shocked that these people who certainly must know something about taste and nutrition are smoking like there’s no tomorrow. Gross. At least they don’t smoke in the kitchen because the last thing anyone needs to be served is cigarette ash. Julia (after her smoke) decides to go and study while everyone else sleeps. She realizes that she is a step behind the others since she is a short order cook and still has a lot to learn.

At 6 AM sharp everyone is startled awake by the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy playing reveille in their ears. Captain Von Trapp also joins in, blowing into his ship whistle with all of his might to awaken the sleeping smokers. A bunch of sailors come into the bedrooms, screaming at everyone to get up, get their uniforms on and get downstairs. They keep screaming while the chefs frantically try to pull their clothes on.

Well this is a surprise, guess who is having a cramp? It’s our favorite hypochondriac Aaron. You see, he just can’t handle strenuous tasks like getting dressed. He’s about to lose it. Bonnie comes tearing out of the shower in a towel and tells us that she was running around the house half-naked and she wasn’t happy. That’s odd because last week when she was half-naked it was her happiest moment. I think she was just upset because her hair was wet. Vinnie confessionals that he played the bugle at band camp. Then he pantomimes playing the bugle and yells, “Rebuly, rebuly!” Is he missing teeth? The soldiers are still yelling at them to wipe the smiles off their faces and get downstairs. Rock and Brad have to physically put Aaron’s clothes on him, while Rock confessionals that it is an essential part of teamwork to never leave anyone behind. Way to play into the military theme, Rock, but we are not in Vietnam, we are in Hell’s Kitchen and the sooner that helpless little (obese) girl is left behind the better.

Downstairs the chefs line up to be berated again by Chef Ramsay for last night’s dinner service. He tells them that since they are clearly not ready to serve dinner, this morning they are going to – for the first time ever in Hell’s Kitchen – serve breakfast!
Huge smiles from our resident Waffle House short order cook. Boo-ya to the wenches who thought Julia was going to hold them back!

Chef Ramsay says that their challenge is to cook the most amazing consistent breakfast from start to finish for a whole big bunch of soldiers. As the soldiers file in chanting and clapping Julia sheds a few tears in honor of our nation’s Armed Forces. Joanna, with a little less dignity, can hardly contain her glee and she confessionals that men in uniform are “so sexy!” OMG!

Herr Narrator tells us in his doomsday voice that the Red Team is cooking for the Army and the Blue Team is cooking for the Navy. “With 50 soldiers and 50 sailors all hungry and waiting to be fed, the teams must work with military precision to get their food out.” Kudos to the Fox production assistant who came up with that copy for staying right on theme. Sous Chef Mary Ann tells Julia that she is counting on her to be the leader. Go Waffle House! Julia assigns each of her team members to a station and tells them they have this one in the bag. She runs a breakfast kitchen five days a week!

On the Blue Team Aaron is volunteering to do omelets, which sounds like a horrible idea to me, but amazingly no one reassigns him to sweeping. Sous Chef Scott tells Aaron that he’ll have to do six or seven omelets at a time, which Aaron says will be no problem. Yeah right. Aaron immediately starts a fire and throws away two omelets.

Julia, meanwhile, is whipping up omelets like nobody’s business. She keeps feeling them with her fingers so I hope her hands are clean, but at least she’s not smoking on them. Herr Narrator tells us that 17 minutes into the service the Red Team has served 20 plates to the Army. The Navy has received nothing from the Blue Team. A clever sailor says, “If I would’ve known I was going to get my food quicker I would have joined the Army.” Good one!

Chef Ramsay starts yelling at Aaron for burning omelets and although he looks like he wants to unleash on him, he also looks like he realizes that doing so may throw Aaron into cardiac arrest. Aaron begs to switch with someone. Jeepers, who saw that coming? Brad confessionals that he doesn’t think Aaron is their weakest link, he knows Aaron is their weakest link. Josh and Brad take over the egg station and the Blue Team finally gets their first plates out to thunderous applause from the Navy. I would say that’s sweet, but I have a feeling it was more of a mocking applause.

Back in the Army, a lady soldier is complaining to Jean Philippe that her hash browns aren’t cooked. Chef Ramsay starts yelling at Joanna, the hash brown culprit. He barks orders at her, telling her to start up another pan and not run out of hash browns. Joanna takes too long delivering hash browns to Bonnie and Chef Ramsay is screaming, “Leave it there! Leave it there! Leave it there!” Someone is in trouble. Remember how Joanna’s plan was to flirt with Chef Ramsay? Instead she is becoming his errant dog. The next problem is that a plate of hash browns is too cold to serve and everyone has to gather around and touch them just to hammer the point home. Joanna starts to tell Chef Ramsay that she is out of potatoes and here is his response. “Shut up. Shut up. Look at me. I’m going to tell you to shut it now. Missy! Hello? Salty, raw, I’ve had it with you!” Oh what a flirt fest! We are led to commercial by a combat boot stepping in some mud and leaving a bootprint of the Hell’s Kitchen logo. I love themed episodes.

Operation Themed Episode

We come back to discover that Chef Ramsay is still furious with Joanna who is causing a road block for her team. Julia takes control, saying, “Let’s rock it out ladies!” That should help. The Blue Team on the other hand, is not doing so well. They too are trying to send out cold dishes to their diners. Chef Ramsay only makes Brad come over and feel the cold food, then accuses him of “having a laugh,” which makes me have a laugh of my own. Chef Ramsay starts yelling that it’s all about consistency and wonders if Brad is just consistently sh**. Aaron is hovering in a corner not doing anything besides cramping and Chef Ramsay screams at him to cook some bacon and sausage. Aaron moves a little, but mostly he just looks scared. He drops an entire tray of sausage.

The girls are on their last order and Chef Ramsay tells them to really step it up. They finish successfully and get a “well done!” from the king. He tells Julia she was exceptional and instead of “clearing down,” which is apparently British for cleaning up, she gets to go and become captain of the boys’ team now. Julia steps right in and gets things going in the Blue Kitchen. Chef Ramsay exclaims, “Finally a leader!” Julia belongs here. Bravo, Julia! The guys are, of course, totally confused as to how they could have done so poorly that a girl – a Waffle House short order cook no less – had to come over and bail them out. These guys talk a huge game for never winning anything. The troops are all formally dismissed from Hell’s Kitchen and we go to a confessional from Vinnie. “It was very disheartening not to be able to serve the people who serve us.” Vinnie can barely get that line out before he looks down at his lap like he’s about to crack up. I think we have our production assistant writing more copy.

"Can I pretend to play the bugle again?"

The teams line up for Chef Ramsay’s evaluation. He tells the girls that they did a great job and especially congratulates Julia for taking charge. Then he tells the guys that they suck and still no one has emerged as a leader. Their punishment is KP duty, which tells me means Kitchen Police in the military, so it’s really just a fancy themed way of telling them they have to peel over a thousand pounds of potatoes and onions for an entire military base while the girls get a major award. The military has arranged a special day for the girls, so they need to go get ready to leave via helicopter. The girls are ecstatic. Bonnie says that Chef Ramsay is definitely a guy worth getting dressed up for. I would have expected her to say undressed, but maybe that’s just reserved for her competition.

The boys start unloading a truck full of potatoes and onions by hand and Josh tells us he feels like dog crap. Well, you cooked like dog crap Josh, so that figures. Sous Chef Scott stands around yelling at the guys to act like men, not a bunch of little girls, and then the girls twirl through again, rubbing it in that they are off on a fantastic journey while the boys have to suffer. Rock tells them to shut the bleep up and confessionals that he looks forward to the day that the guys get to parade past the girls after winning a challenge. Dream on, Rock, because it doesn’t look good.

In the kitchen it looks like unloading the truck was too much for our fragile little flower Aaron and he passes out – again. Someone calls for a medic… just like on the battlefield! It’s theme day in Hell’s Kitchen!

An ambulance comes to take Aaron away, but he’s just sitting up in what looks like the back seat with oxygen tubes up his nose. Remember the ambulance from last week’s preview with Chef Ramsay screaming “You’ll kill someone!” Well this is the ambulance and it’s just Aaron having another tizzy fit while none of the chefs have killed anyone. Another fake out from the editors at Fox. Meanwhile the girls are in a helicopter laughing about the guys back home peeling potatoes. The helicopter lands on the hauntingly familiar USS Midway. I know this place because this is where ABC sent Bachelor Andy “Mayo” Baldwin to take two girls on a date a mere few weeks ago! The Midway is a retired battleship that has been converted into a museum for the public, so our girls get to go on the same tour that the Bachelor took his lucky ladies on while deciding who would be his future bride. Our girls have the benefit of a real tour guide who doesn’t need to explain to them the process of going through a cafeteria line to pick up food – The Bachelor did a demonstration, seriously. Chef Ramsay does, however, point out that the mannequin “serving” the food looks like Josh.

"This food is so erotic!"

The shot of the mannequin fades into a shot of Josh peeling potatoes (clever!) and the guys are working up quite a sweat with their peeling. Josh is trying to take charge and assign everyone a task in the peeling and Rock is having none of it. He confessionals that he wants to tell Josh to shut the bleep up. That must be his phrase for the day.

Back on the Midway the girls get to have another lunch with Chef Ramsay and he gives them another tip about being good chefs. He tells them that the secret to any restaurant is consistency. Melissa and Bonnie are particularly excited about this alone time with Chef Ramsay, but I don’t notice Joanna doing any flirting.

Later at the dorms the girls decide to disrobe again – this time to sit in the hot tub with some wine. The guys return from KP duty and have a conference to decide who should be their team leader. To absolutely no one’s surprise, each guy nominates… himself. Great, this should be productive. Josh decides to be the bigger man tonight and changes his vote to Brad, then he explains to us in secret that he did all of that on purpose to get back at Rock for nominating him to be sent home last week. Rock determines that he shall have to out-think both Josh and Brad from now on. Oh Rock, why don’t you just tell them to shut the bleep up?

Bright and early the next morning the chefs return to Hell’s Kitchen for tonight’s attempt at a dinner service. Brad – the newly crowned team leader – tells the guys he thinks tonight is their night. As the girls start their prep in the Red Kitchen Sous Chef Mary Ann asks Julia if she’s ever done a crème brûlée. No. Does she know what one is? No. I guess they don’t serve that at the Waffle House, darn it all. I’m picturing crème brûlée, but I think I’m getting it confused with flan, so I’m just going to set the record straight. It’s custard with a crust of caramelized sugar. So is flan pretty much, so I wasn’t too far off. Bonnie complains privately that Julia never knows what anything is. That’s an odd thing to say about the person who led you to victory this morning, Bonnie, you bleeping Barbie (to quote Chef Ramsay). At least Julia knows the difference between scallops and spaghetti when Chef Ramsay calls them out so why don’t you just shut your mouth and adjust your panties?

Chef Ramsay steps into his office (quickly set up by the production assistants) to place a phone call to the hospital. We get a split screen shot of Aaron in a hospital gown sitting in a hospital bed – smoking. Just kidding, but you know he wants to be.

"Hang on, Chef. I'm lighting a cigarette."

This is all very rehearsed and staged, but basically what happens is that Aaron tells Chef Ramsay that he’s honored to be receiving this phone call and he’s worked all his life to get to this point of being able to work for His Majesty. Chef Ramsay says he’s very sorry, but according to doctor’s orders Aaron has a serious illness and can not return to Hell’s Kitchen. Aaron says, “All righty then. Bye.” Wow, don’t fight too hard there, Aaron, you’ll make yourself sick. Aaron tells us that he’s disappointed. He’s worked 40 years in a kitchen, and for what? Now he has some unnamed serious illness and it’s all going down the tubes. Yeah, it’s called hypochondria… accompanied by hysteria. And it got old. Aaron’s picture goes up in smoke and he burns in Hell’s Kitchen.

Chef Ramsay stands before the other chefs who have lined up for tonight’s pep talk, aka serious threats of violence. Chef Ramsay busts the news about Aaron and no one seems the least bit surprised. The guys say they can do without him even though they are down to four members and they tell Chef Ramsay that Brad is going to be their leader. Chef Ramsay is relieved. He tells the guys that as a part of their continuing punishment for losing the challenge yesterday, they are in charge of bringing water into the dining room when it arrives later on a truck. Interesting. Jean Philippe is told to open Hell’s Kitchen!

The first order of the night is for the Blue Team. Two bloody risottos, two scallops, one spaghetti and one mullet. As far as I know a mullet is a haircut, so I did a little research to discover that it is also a fish. You know what else? I’m beginning to realize that they serve pretty much the same thing at every dinner service. I guess that would make sense – like a restaurant they have a fixed menu. What doesn’t make sense is that the chefs don’t seem to be getting any better at making the same thing all the time. Let’s continue. Rock makes the fatal error of tossing the bloody risotto. I guess risotto is never meant to go up in the air, even a little bit. “Big bleeping donkey.” Rock’s next problem is that he is sweating so profusely that it is dripping into his eyes and he’s going around with one eye squeezed shut all the time. He doesn’t have time to wipe the sweat away. Has he ever heard of a bandana? Chef Ramsay gets in his face and taunts him, “Another wimp. Feeling dizzy? Medic! Medic!” Oh Chef Ramsay, don’t take out your Aaron-frustration on Rock just because you coddled Aaron instead of kicking his butt.

Rock tries Joanna's flirting tactics on Chef Ramsay.

Moving over to the girls we have another order. One bloody risotto, one scallop, one spaghetti and crab. Joanna is really excited because appetizers are her specialty so this is her chance to lead and shine. First up is the bloody risotto. Chef Ramsay tastes it and then makes Joanna taste it, so we know she’s about to get scolded. “It’s soft, it’s salty, yes and it’s just… it’s crap.” The girls (Joanna) have to start again.

Rock has also made some bloody risotto, which Chef Ramsay says is very nice, so I guess Rock is momentarily off the hook for sweating into his eyes. Rock confessionals that “Rock knows he’s the leader.” Okay, so now he’s referring to himself in the third person? That’s really annoying. And no, Rock isn’t the leader because the Blue Team voted Brad to be the leader. Honey Gangsta stands behind Brad (for now). Just as was predicted earlier, Jean Philippe is running out of water in the dining room so Chef Ramsay sends Josh out to get water from the water truck. Josh complains that he had to heft 2400 pounds of potatoes and onions earlier (I’m just glad he doesn’t exaggerate), so he’s in a lot of pain and takes a tumble trying to carry a load of water up the front steps of Hell’s Kitchen. Doofus.

It looks like the girls still haven’t gotten any appetizers out to their crowd. So much for Joanna’s leading and shining. Chef Ramsay discovers an undercooked scallop and calls Bonnie over. She asks what’s wrong, which sends Chef Ramsay into a fit of rage, ending with him telling her to “f” off. Note to self: Don’t ever ask Chef Ramsay or police officers what is wrong.

The guys seem to have pulled themselves together at least a little bit because Chef Ramsay is pleased to discover that they are acting like a team. Then he tells them they’ve sent two orders, so “don’t start wetting your pants.” And just when they thought they were getting some props.

The Red Team is on their third attempt to make their first appetizers. Joanna is licking some tongs which makes me never want to eat in a restaurant again.

Much faster than a dishwasher.

Chef Ramsay takes a look at her spaghetti and crab and starts getting really suspicious. He tracks down the container that the crab originally came out of and notices that it doesn’t smell right. He brings Mary Ann over to take a whiff and she has a very dramatic reaction. Way to make sure you make it on screen, Mary Ann. Joanna is trying to slink away but Chef Ramsay is right on her, warning, “Don’t you bleeping dare!” Apparently the crab is rancid and apparently it’s really easy to tell. Thankfully no one has been served any rancid crab yet, but here is the part where Chef Ramsay is waving around some Tupperware screaming, “You’ll kill someone!”

"Call an ambulance!"

Then the ambulance pulls up. No wait, oops. That was Aaron from earlier. Never mind. The previews had me all ready for the ambulance. Chef Ramsay screams at Joanna to get off, which I guess means that her days as appetizer queen are over. Jean Philippe asks Chef Ramsay if he should recommend something else to the diners, to which Chef Ramsay responds that he should recommend a new restaurant. Oh, you mean one where they won’t be poisoned?

It’s time for a visit from our friend Herr Narrator, who tells us that after an hour no food has left the Red Kitchen, and the diners are getting antsy. On the Blue side, however, over half of the guests are happily enjoying appetizers. It couldn’t go well for long, though. Chef Ramsay inspects a round of appetizers and discovers something necessitating a line up of the entire Blue Team. “Come here, donkeys!” He goes down the line asking everyone what it is in his hand and they all tell him it’s a raw egg. Remember those pesky little quail eggs we met in the first episode? Well Chef Ramsay smashes the one in his hand right into Vinnie’s chest, telling him to fudge off. Vinnie looks like he’s ready to just let loose on Chef Ramsay, but miraculously he holds it together. If this had been episode one we may have gone to fisticuffs, but I think Vinnie has learned that it doesn’t pay to fight with the king. Rock takes Vinnie’s arm and pulls him away from Chef Ramsay, but Chef Ramsay isn’t done. He demands to know why Vinnie let the egg go out if he knew it was raw. Vinnie just says that he screwed up again. Chef Ramsay marches up to get right in his face and tells him that he’s just confirmed that he isn’t trustworthy, and oh yeah, fudge off – in case he hadn’t already. I swear Vinnie is going to make a phone call later to Don Corleone asking him to “explain things” to Chef Ramsay. You can see that look in his eyes.

Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.

Back on the Red Team, the girls have made some appetizer progress thanks to Julia and Jen. One diner who has just been served says that after an hour and half the risotto better be good. I think her risotto didn’t get tossed, so she should be happy. Over the stove, Jen tells Julia that she is going to throw some spaghetti away because they appear to have enough. Just then there is a call for more spaghetti. Don’t worry – Jen has a solution. She is going dumpster diving. I mean, she just barely threw the spaghetti into the trash and she can boil it to kill the germs, right? She shares this little scheme with Julia who immediately vetoes it and starts up some new spaghetti. She’s pretty disgusted that Jen would take food out of the trash. Yeah, rancid crab and garbage spaghetti? This isn’t the Red Team’s finest hour.

The guys, meanwhile, have moved on to entrées. Brad, as elected team leader, asks Josh to start working on some beef Wellington. Josh is busy and can’t be bothered. Chef Ramsay sees this exchange and doesn’t like it one bit. He screams out to Josh. “You little bastard! Are you just trying to sabotage them so it makes you look good?” Busted! Of course Josh denies sabotage, but of course we know that he is up to no good in that sneaky little head of his.

Finally the girls have also graduated to serving entrées, but back in the Blue Kitchen Brad gets caught trying to scrape some burned pastry off the bottom of a beef Wellington. Chef Ramsay now has a conspiracy on his hands. He threatens something to Brad that comes out in Morse code due to all of the profanity. He screams and kicks the trash bins.

The girls are also having trouble with beef Wellington because as Jen was busy digging food out of the trash her Wellingtons were overcooking.

Jen, I think the boys may have just
tossed some near perfect Wellington.
Go have a look.

Chef Ramsay can’t believe it. He is completely dismayed and the diners are giving up and leaving in droves. Chef Ramsay calls both teams over (addressing Josh as Chef Sabotage) and has a mini tantrum, crumpling up all of the orders and throwing them while telling the chefs to get out.

Once the dining room has been cleared of disappointed customers, Chef Ramsay gets ready to address the teams. He’s shattered and exhausted. The guys have yet to complete any meal service whatsoever. He scolds Brad for his lack of leadership abilities and then congratulates Rock for doing well tonight in spite of his profuse sweating. The girls left 95% of their diners with no entrées. He tells Joanna to give him something back instead of just being a little pissy madam who doesn’t give a bleep. Bonnie is never to be trusted again because of her raw scallops (what’s wrong?). There are no winners tonight, but the losers are the Red Team. At first I thought this was just a ploy to even out the team numbers, but looking back the Red Team did have more mistakes that were pretty big. No one did well enough to deserve the honor of nominating other team members for elimination, so the girls have to all decide as a team. Now piss off! P.S. Chef Ramsay can still smell rancid crab.

Upstairs the girls pow-wow to figure out who should be nominated to leave. Joanna fesses up that she herself should be nominated and then she also volunteers Jen. Julia relates Jen’s tale of dumpster diving to the rest of the girls and they come to a consensus that it isn’t a good idea to send garbage out to their diners. Good thinking, ladies. Bonnie and Melissa decide to gang up on Julia for “not knowing the product” because of the crème brûlée question. They so conveniently forget Julia’s glorious triumph in the breakfast challenge. Bonnie’s been in more trouble than Julia lately so she really needs to just shut her trap. Barbie. Thankfully Joanna comes to Julia’s defense, but the girls end up nominating Julia anyway to stand up there with Joanna. Ridiculous!

Facing Judge Ramsay, Joanna tells him that she has been nominated and that the team also nominated Julia. But as soon as she finishes saying Julia’s name Jen pipes up, saying, “I’m the next nominee Chef,” causing the music to swell to a deafening volume as the girls look around with huge eyes and we go to commercial.

Judge Ramsay wants to know why the girls nominated Julia, so Joanna explains that it is because of her current knowledge level. Next it’s Jen’s turn to explain why she nominated herself and she regales Judge Ramsay with her trash tale. Judge Ramsay just does this:

Judge Ramsay has the three nominees step forward, but then decides that Julia has no business being nominated and sends her back in line. The girls try to defend themselves, but Joanna’s only real defense is that she would never take pasta out of the garbage and attempt to serve it. Judge Ramsay points out that she would, however, serve spaghetti with disgusting rancid crab. He thinks maybe they should both go home and then he lapses into his black-and-white reverie to determine who was the worst. And the loser is… Joanna. She leaves in shame and Judge Ramsay tells everyone they are unbelievable – this isn’t that difficult. He shoos them all away, reminding Jen to “stay away from bins.” Joanna’s picture goes up in flames as she burns in Hell’s Kitchen.

Two down this week! I’m so glad I don’t have to watch Aaron have cramps anymore. What a freaking sissy. And I guess Joanna has given up flirting her way into Chef Ramsay’s good graces. Next week there will be a blindfolded taste test and Bonnie cries again. Excellent.

What do you think? Are you happy with Judge Ramsay’s final decision? Did you like the military theme that only lasted through half of the episode?

Thanks for reading!

-Honey Gangsta

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