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'Hell's Kitchen': The dark lord of cooking reigns again!

April 2, 2008 |  8:34 am

Gordon You have to give it to Matt, a sous chef and Gordon Ramsay-wannabe who prepared "exotic tartare" during his first challenge in the new season of "Hell's Kitchen."

He said the dish, a combination of venison, caviar, scallops and -- wait for it -- white chocolate, would set him apart from the competition: "My signature dish is going to help me stand out, cause I'm a true culinarian."

He was right about that. It's the first dish in "Hell's Kitchen" to make Ramsay throw up. Really. As in bent over at the waist, retching into the nearby garbage bin.

Perhaps it was all for the cameras.

But as the beast that is "Hell's Kitchen" awakened from its slumber, the dark lord who reigns over it told the 15 contestants -- ranging from professional cooks to a stay-at-home dad -- that this season's prize is the best yet -- executive chefship at his new Los Angeles restaurant, called London Los Angeles. And he told the camera that he plans to push his underlings harder and farther than ever before.

If there was any doubt, what followed was an apparent montage of scenes to come in the show as the men and women mess up and cry as they are brought to the brink of a breakdown. Oh the tears to come!

There was another brilliant twist to the opening of the new season -- Ramsay wearing a prosthetic nose and a wig and pretending to be a contestant himself. He slipped in among the others for the drive over to the restaurant, and listened in as they all talked about Ramsay and their plans to win. Bobby's jaw slacked when he found out the stringy-haired dude with the glasses who was taking it all in was Ramsay himself. He had referred to himself as the "black Gordon Ramsay" and appointed himself Ramsay's four-star general.

The rest of the crew was eviscerated as well. Pity poor Craig. He showed up in a sky-high chef's hat -- he says he wears it everywhere. Seriously, sky-high. How did that guy even get that thing through the door? After insinuating that the chef's hat was designed to make up for a shortage, uh, elsewhere, Ramsay lacerated his dish. He told the fair-haired Corey, whose dish looked like a Caesar salad, that the dish was just like her: "Simple, plain, blond and boring."

There was another first this night: The worst service in "Hell's Kitchen" history. Absolutely no entrees served. "Shut it down," spat Ramsay again and again, his signature line for calling it quits for the night. The first to go home was stay-at-home dad Dominic, who was clearly out of his league and spent much of the night in the kitchen wearing a sleeve of scallops, waiting for someone to tell him what to do.

"This is nothing like cooking at home for the kids," he said at one point.

True words, indeed.

Perhaps it's too soon to call it, but Louross is looking like the only front-runner. What do you think?

-- Rene Lynch

(Photo courtesy Fox)