Saturday, June 30, 2007

Schooling Your Palate

"Mm, soft and chewy... it must be a potato chip."

I would like to begin by apologizing for the tardiness of this week’s Hell’s Kitchen recap. I would also like to tell you that the reason for the tardiness is that I have been preoccupied learning how to cook a perfect Beef Wellington, but that just wouldn’t be true. In reality my day job has been kicking my butt this week and I simply didn’t get a chance to relish our latest kitchen shenanigans with Chef Ramsay until the end of the week. Thank you to all reading this for not losing faith in me. Next week I should be back on track. This week, as promised, the chefs have a blindfolded tasting competition and Bonnie cries a lot. Without further ado, let’s examine just what went down in Hell’s Kitchen!

We start this episode by joining the chefs regrouping after Joanna’s elimination last week. Jen is still very shaken up by her dumpster diving experience and as she tears up Bonnie hugs her and tells her there is no crying in the kitchen. This coming from the person who has cried more than everyone except Aaron. Vinnie joins in, telling Jen he would have thrown her out of his kitchen and now when he looks at her he sees the girl who took food out of the trash. Excuse me, Vinnie? Isn’t that stain on your jacket from Chef Ramsay smashing an egg on your incompetent chest? Quiet down.

"I don't ever make mistakes. I'm Vinnie."

Bonnie says that people have no idea what they’re going through. They are running on no sleep and it is three in the morning. “We’re in hell! …hell, …hell,” Thank you, Fox Post Production team, for pressing the echo button on Bonnie when she announced that the Hell’s Kitchen contestants are in hell.

The next morning Chef Ramsay gathers the chefs to begin a new day of torment and he starts by reminding Jen to stay out of the bins and asking Vinnie if he had nightmares of himself, Chef Ramsay and a box of quail eggs. He tells everyone that their palates are lacking and that today they will be having a tasting challenge. Herr Narrator explains that each chef will be blindfolded and asked to identify three different foods by tasting them. It’s Red against Blue and the team with the most correct answers wins. They did something like this on the first season of Top Chef and I never realized that taste depends so much on sight. Apparently it’s extremely difficult to identify food when you can’t see it. Weird. First up are Brad and Julia. They are both blindfolded and fit with headphones blaring music so that Chef Ramsay can announce to everyone else what is going into their mouths.

Taste Buds 101

To make sure the headphones are serving their purpose, Chef Ramsay calls Brad a sack of bleep and looks for a reaction. Satisfied that they can’t hear, he announces American cheese and sticks a square into both mouths. Julia gets it, but Brad thinks it’s cheddar. They both get fried chicken right, but when fed a boiled carrot, Brad thinks it’s papaya and Julia thinks it’s a radish. The score is Women – 2, Men – 1. Chef Ramsay tells Brad he’s just been beaten by a Waffle House chef. Take that!

Next up are Painfully Beautiful Melissa and Rock. They start with hard boiled egg yolk, which Rock identifies but Melissa thinks is a potato. Boiled potato is actually the next item and they each get it. Venison, however, stumps them both.

It’s neck and neck at 3 all. Next up are Josh the sous chef and Bonnie the nanny. Bonnie can hear through her blaring music and so her headphones need to be adjusted. They taste lobster that Bonnie thinks is langoustine and Josh thinks is a scallop. Chef Ramsay is disgusted. Next is bok choy, which I couldn’t identify in a million years, even with all five senses in tact. Bonnie confessionals that ever since she was little she liked to sample weird things and loved putting them in her mouth. We’ll leave that alone because the innuendo is just too obvious. She recognizes the bok choy. Josh thinks it’s a radish. Next is a piece of pear and Oral Bonnie gets it, but Josh thinks it’s a mango. Chef Ramsay chastises Josh for losing to a nanny.

The score is now Women – 5, Men – 3, so it’s all up to Vinnie to pull this one out for the guys. He comes up against Jen. They both get a piece of seared tuna and Chef Ramsay announces that if Vinnie misses it the guys are finished. I’m a little confused because it seems like he would still have a shot at tying up the score, but I’m not going to argue with Chef Ramsay. Vinnie thinks it’s pancetta. I looked up pancetta and it’s Italian spiced pork that has been air dried for up to four months. I’m no genius, but wouldn’t seared tuna be soft and juicy? I’m picturing pancetta to be textured sort of like beef jerky, so Vinnie is way off. The guys lose yet another challenge. I’m not at all surprised because I think the guys are all talk. Chef Ramsay tells the girls that he is taking them to the most amazing dining experience they’ve ever had, while the guys have to stay home and prep both kitchens for tonight’s dinner service. While they work they will also be improving their palates by eating a whole bunch of crap. Sous Chef Mary Ann brings out a plate of guts that Chef Ramsay says includes beef liver, tongue, pig’s feet, tripe (stomach lining), and kidneys. It kind of jiggles there on the table.


Bonnie tells us privately how gross everything is, in case we couldn’t tell from that presentation, and Josh confessionals that he’s disappointed because he thought the guys would knock this out of the park. Sounds familiar.

The guys go upstairs to smoke and pout before their punishment begins. They decide to fixate on the fact that Bonnie could hear through her headphones when her turn began. In fact, Vinnie comes over to Bonnie while she puts on her Chef-Ramsay-impressing makeup and tells her that she named her food exactly the way Chef Ramsay said it, meaning “bok choy stem.” She says simply that she didn’t cheat, but then she tells us that the guys are making excuses. I agree. Shut up and eat your tripe, Vinnie. The girls are all dolled up and head out in their Hell’s Kitchen SUV for the dining experience of a lifetime! In the car Bonnie complains about the guys accusing her of cheating. She says that she has lost all of her sympathy for them and that jealousy makes you nasty.

The guys sit down to lunch and their crap has been diced into small pieces and garnished with pickled palm leaf, grass jelly, creamed herring and pickled herring. I like anything pickled and I don’t mind herring, so that part doesn’t sound too bad. Sous Chef Scott also mentions that they are eating “trotters” which is just another way of saying pig’s feet. He throws some barf bags in the middle of the table and tells them to eat up.

Meanwhile the girls meet up with Chef Ramsay at Opaque for lunch. This is a restaurant where you eat in pitch darkness. I did a little checking into this and it’s kind of a cool idea, but it mostly seems like an expensive gimmick. Apparently this is a riveting new trend that is sweeping through Europe and has just become available in Los Angeles. You pay about a hundred dollars a person and choose from a pre-set menu and then proceed into darkness for the rest of your experience. The menu is pretty ordinary, with choices like chicken, steak, ravioli, or vegetarian. All are served with a salad and a choice of tiramisu or cheesecake. Really? A hundred dollars for them to turn the lights off and serve me ordinary food? I won’t be “dining in the dark” any time soon. I can do that at home much cheaper with a pizza. Anyway the girls form a chain and enter the dining room with Chef Ramsay. Julia says that she never thought about eating in the dark, but she supposes that fine dining is all about taste. And Opaque is all about a gimmick. I added that part.

"I'll have the #4 combo meal, super sized."

Staring at their food in blinding daylight, the guys are none too pleased with their midday entrails. Rock seems to be having the hardest time getting the food down and Vinnie keeps egging him on to just throw up.

Back at Opaque Bonnie tells Chef Ramsay that he has “the nicest voice in the dark.” Oh brother. This man calls her a dumb blonde and a Barbie constantly. I don’t know if acting silly around him will improve her chances.

Rock is still struggling with his food and needs help identifying his tripe. Brad hands him a barf bag. He confessionals that he was worried about a vomiting domino effect, where if Rock threw up they would eventually all throw up. Vinnie keeps encouraging the vomit and Rock finally excuses himself to go to the restroom.

Oh Rock, stop being such a sissy.

Following their dark lunch, the girls return to the dorms and decide to take a nap while the guys are busy prepping their kitchen for them. Excellent notion. The guys are all tired and irritable while they get ready for tonight’s dinner service. Too bad, losers!

Just before Hell’s Kitchen opens, Chef Ramsay gathers everyone around to tell them that tonight the diners will be filling out comment cards which will decide the contestants’ fate. “Move your arse!” Jean Philippe goes to open Hell’s Kitchen.

The first order is a complete description of the bloody risotto our chefs always have so much trouble with. It is actually a “pea risotto with parmesan shavings and toasted almonds.” Well, that explains why it’s green. Chef Ramsay tells Jean Philippe that he wants to know about any complaints from the diners. Josh completes some bloody risotto and brings it over for Chef Ramsay to sample. Of course it isn’t cooked properly and Chef Ramsay puts it back on the stove, admonishing Josh to “work the risotto, work the risotto.” Josh just stands there watching. Chef Ramsay tells them all to get a grip.

Over in the Red Kitchen Melissa calls out “two minutes” to the girls, letting them know when she would like to present to Chef Ramsay. Bonnie tells Julia that her scallops are overcooked, but I would never take Bonnie’s word for anything. Julia begins again on her scallops and tells Melissa she needs two more minutes, even though Melissa has already reached one minute on her countdown. Here is how the conversation proceeds:

Melissa: I gotta put my risotto up, you ready?
Julia: Did you hear me? I need two minutes.
Melissa: READY, JULIA???
Julia: I told you I need two minutes.
Melissa: But that was one minute ago. One minute?

I really don’t like Melissa. She’s way too shrill and bossy. Chef Ramsay senses that something has gone wrong and Julia immediately tells him that she overcooked her scallops. Chef Ramsay thanks her and then yells at Melissa that she is in charge of the appetizers, but is running ahead of everybody and not being a team player. Ha! He says that if he doesn’t see some team spirit he’ll kick Melissa out and run the section himself. Then he accuses Melissa of just wanting to get all of her appetizers out and look good. While saying this part he goes to a mirror and starts patting his face and pretending to adjust his boobs.

"No Chef. My boobs are fake and never need adjusting."

Oh, there goes Melissa, getting judged on her devastating looks again. Chef Ramsay tells her to piss off and calls her a bleeping bimbo. I’m liking this way too much. Is that wrong? Melissa immediately turns to Julia and blames everything on her, saying, “Every time you’re slow I’m being yelled at.” Julia just says, “Thank you, Melissa,” and continues cooking. Go Julia!

Back on the Blue side, Josh is standing around not cooking anything, which sends Chef Ramsay into a panic. He yells at Rock for not assigning Josh to scallop cooking and Josh berates himself quietly. After 45 minutes of dinner service the Blue dining room is finally enjoying their appetizers. The guys have moved on to entrées and Vinnie has of course screwed the pooch on his Beef Wellingtons. He has overcooked them and needs an additional 15 minutes. Chef Ramsay says, “What are you on about, 15 minutes?” British talk. Chef Ramsay wants to know how many Wellingtons Vinnie has fudged and he confesses to four.

Bonnie is having trouble of her own cooking meat. She has a chicken breast in a pan that is apparently still raw. She slices it in half and puts both halves back in the pan. Chef Ramsay asks her if she has indeed sliced the chicken and continued cooking it. She points to some chicken on the counter and says, “That chicken?” Yes Bonnie. Chef Ramsay is asking if the chicken sitting on the counter is in the pan. Chef Ramsay almost loses his rag, telling Bonnie that every time he asks her a sensible question he gets a dumb blonde answer. He calls her a stupid cow. Next he asks if some chicken is in the oven and Bonnie says, “Yes Chef,” while lining it up on a pan to go in the oven. That’s all Chef Ramsay can stand and he screams, “I’ve had enough now! Stop lying to me! You’re saying ‘yes’ all the bleeping time, yet nothing’s done!!” Bonnie sits there with her usual bewildered look. She doesn’t understand how Chef Ramsay could so quickly forget that she complimented his voice in the dark earlier.

"Did this afternoon mean nothing to you, Chef?"

Herr Narrator tells us that two hours into the dinner service the Red Kitchen has served 14 entrées, but the Blue Kitchen has served only six. Jean Philippe is making his rounds letting the diners know that there will be a “slight delay” on the entrées. One tall lady says that they haven’t even gotten their appetizers yet, they don’t need any more bread, and they want food! Apparently quite familiar with Hell’s Kitchen and quite keen to be on-camera, this lady decides to march over to Chef Ramsay herself and complain about the long wait. Chef Ramsay tolerates her presence long enough to find out which table she is from and then tells Jean Philippe to take the “giraffe” back to her friends. The giraffe is highly offended and wants to fight, but Chef Ramsay just says, “Move your bleeping arse, will ya?”

"What's it going to take for me to get on-camera?"

"I said I want a close-up!"

Next Chef Ramsay is riding Vinnie’s butt about his Wellingtons and Vinnie finally produces a group of entrées. The Wellington is supposed to be medium and someone says to Chef Ramsay that Vinnie is “flashing” Wellingtons in the oven after they’re cooked. Oh no. Chef Ramsay yells, “Stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP! Blue donkeys come here!” They all have to come over and touch the “medium” Wellington to discover that it is rare. He accuses Vinnie of just not caring anymore. Vinnie confessionals that Chef Ramsay was on him tonight with his hawk eye. Nice excuse, Vinnie. Vinnie quickly comes up with another Wellington, but this time Chef Ramsay discovers that there is raw pastry on the meat that hasn’t been trimmed off. He orders Rock to tell Vinnie to trim the pastry. Chef Ramsay continues berating Vinnie about his Wellingtons, asking him if every other one is correct, or only one in three. Vinnie claims to have a perfect Wellington in his hands, but Chef Ramsay is curious to see how many he screwed up and threw away. He comes over to examine Vinnie’s bin, which contains six Wellingtons and one chicken. He tells Vinnie that this much error would have closed a restaurant and then he utters some very risqué profanity.

Chef Ramsay debates whether or not to
serve food from Vinnie's trash bin.

Guess who is in charge of the beef Wellington over in the Red Kitchen. It’s our resident genius Bonnie. Bonnie tells Chef Ramsay that her Wellington has three more minutes to go. She then looks around and says she has no idea what is going on. Well there’s a shocker. Martyr Melissa steps in and announces very loudly that she will be helping Bonnie with the Wellingtons. Bonnie says she doesn’t even know what the oven temperatures are anymore. The Wellingtons are supposed to be medium and they’re rare, so Bonnie blames Melissa for stepping in. Chef Ramsay notices that something is amiss and starts jumping up and down screaming, “Look at them!” referring to Melissa and Bonnie. He says that too many cooks are messing up the Wellingtons tonight. Bonnie announces that she has to start over.

As the Red Team starts over on their Wellingtons, the Blue Team begins to catch up on their main courses. One diner tells Jean Philippe that her fish is too salty so he brings it over to Chef Ramsay, who makes all the guys taste it. Next a diner complains that his spaghetti is undercooked, so again it comes back to Chef Ramsay. Chef Ramsay says, “Where is that pretty boy sushi man?” inexplicably referring to Josh as pretty. Josh tastes the spaghetti and confessionals that there was nothing wrong with it. Chef Ramsay decides it’s time to gather everyone around for a good tongue lashing. He reminds them that the customers are deciding their fate tonight and marvels that they are still sending out crap. He warns them that if one more dish is sent back, he’s bleeping shutting it down!

Chef Ramsay jumps right back onto Bonnie asking her for an ETA on some chicken and Wellingtons. When she tells him that her Wellington is done but her chicken is still cooking, Chef Ramsay becomes upset again because chicken should only take half as long as Wellington. He tells Bonnie that he has to break things down for her into “nannified” terms so that she can understand. Bonnie cries in a confessional that no one takes her seriously because she is just the nanny with the good palate. Personally I don’t take her seriously because she flirts like a little girl with Chef Ramsay, parades in her panties, and cries a lot. It has nothing to do with her being a nanny. Bonnie presents Chef Ramsay with two chicken breasts, both of which are all wrong and Chef Ramsay is about to flip out. Just then Jean Philippe arrives with another sent-back dish. This time it is cold chicken.

Bonnie forgot to turn on the oven at all.

True to his threats, Chef Ramsay calls the chefs around him and drops the latest sent-back plate onto the floor, shattering it everywhere. Then he tells everyone to get out and clear down.

While the customers fill out their comment cards Bonnie bursts into tears – again. She bawls that she’s not cut out to be here and she can’t cope with it. I agree, but Julia tells her not to start talking like that. It’s back to another teary Bonnie confessional, where she says that in real life she only cooks for four people and if something isn’t ready it’s okay because they all know her. Boo hoo I want to go home!

"At my nanny job the kids always
tell me the oven temperature!"

As the guys do their clear down, Rock paces around saying over and over again that they panicked. When both teams line up to hear tonight’s verdict, Chef Ramsay tells them that according to the comment cards the customers liked the majority of the food, but 65% of them would never come back because the food took too long. A restaurant would fail with those numbers, so no one wins tonight! Chef Ramsay tells Rock that he was solid… as a rock, ha! So he gets to nominate one team member. Chef Ramsay advises him to cut the crap and get straight to the heart of the problem. Next he turns to Melissa who gets ready to hear that she was great tonight, but instead he tells her that she was bad and will not be nominating anyone. So there, Melissa! Next Chef Ramsay imitates Bonnie being confused about her chicken and he does a little confused twirl while saying, “What chicken?” He complains that he can’t even get a straight answer from her. In the end Jen gets to nominate someone because she wasn’t brilliant, but she wasn’t bad. Now fudge off back to the dorm! Chef Ramsay watches them go while shaking his head and muttering more profanity.

Upstairs Jen asks Rock if he knows what he’s going to do and Rock says that yes, he knew even before dinner service started. Oh gee, I wonder who he’ll be nominating. Could it be his arch enemy Josh? The other three guys gather to smoke and speculate and Vinnie is certain that he will be the nominee because he performed so poorly tonight. In the girls’ room Bonnie is packing her things since she’s pretty sure she’ll be the one going home tonight. Melissa feels sorry for Jen because she is a kind person and won’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Jen makes the idiotic decision of talking things over with Vinnie, who of course gives her terrible advice. He says to nominate the person she is most threatened by so that she can rid herself of competition. I don’t think that works as well in Hell’s Kitchen as it does on Survivor. After all, Chef Ramsay has the final decision and he always picks the person who performed the worst. So if Jen does something stupid like nominate Julia, it certainly won’t be Julia who goes home. Jen complains to Vinnie that this is too hard and she is too nice for this. Vinnie taunts her, asking if she came on the show to be the nice girl. She says that no she didn’t, but she’s still all torn up.

Back downstairs everyone lines up to hear the nominees. Surprise, surprise, (solid as a) Rock nominates Josh. He says that Josh has maxed out his potential and he is not an asset to the team at this moment. Jen nominates Melissa, saying that tonight her leadership skills just weren’t there.

"Pretty boy sushi man and the bimbo...?"

Judge Ramsay thinks for a minute and then announces that he’s disappointed on both fronts. Neither team nominated their weakest performer of the evening, so guess what. They’ve both been overruled! Duhn, duhn, duhn! Bonnie and Vinnie are ordered to step forward and take their medicine. Vinnie admits that his head was so far up his own butt during the dinner service that he has no idea whether Josh was good or bad. Judge Ramsay says that’s a good answer. Bonnie admits that she knows she screwed up big time. When asked why Judge Ramsay should keep him, Vinnie says that when Judge Ramsay puts his name behind a restaurant in Las Vegas, he (Vinnie) is the most qualified chef here. Judge Ramsay nips that thought process in the bud, telling Vinnie that he needs some humility and he needs to admit that he screwed up and can’t cook a Wellington. Bonnie’s plea is that she is starting out and that she is sure that when Judge Ramsay was starting out he made mistakes too. She insists that she is learning from her mistakes. It’s time for Judge Ramsay’s black-and-white reverie and he decides that the person to go will be… Vinnie. He says that Vinnie has peaked and can’t go any further. Take your jacket off and get out of Hell’s Kitchen. Vinnie slinks away, saying that there’s no way he can keep up with Chef Ramsay and that you don’t get second chances in Hell’s Kitchen. That’s right, loser, now scram. Judge Ramsay tells the remaining chefs that he will not stand for any more excuses. Bonnie whines to the camera some more about not being cut out for this. Josh gloats to the camera about Judge Ramsay overruling Rock’s nomination. Rock takes us out with this charming quote: “None of them are a threat to Rock. Only Rock is a threat to Rock.” Thanks Rock. Now get out of here. Vinnie’s picture lights up and he burns in Hell’s Kitchen.

So what do you think? Are we all glad to see Vinnie go? He did seem to get a little too big for his britches at times. Ironically, I think it’s probably Bonnie’s Barbie-ness that saved her butt for at least one more week. Chef Ramsay doesn’t fool me entirely!

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

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