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'Hell's Kitchen': Guess who's back?

July 2, 2008 |  8:35 am


It felt like third grade all over again, and teams were choosing sides for a rousing game of kickball.

Yes, we knew it was coming, and Fox shrewdly milked it for all it's worth: Jen and a handful of other chefs returned to Hell's Kitchen to pair up alongside the two finalists for the make-or-break last challenge. Victory will help determine who will become Chef Gordon Ramsay's newest protege.

That is, if someone doesn't get first get a knife in the back.

Jen clearly has a chip on her shoulder, and while she says she plans to help her team leader to victory to prove that Chef Ramsay erred by sending her home, Petrozza and Christina have a right to be worried that she could set back their efforts. As the first of the two-part finale came to an end last night, the chef-finalists had picked most of their teams and were down to the last two: Jen and Matt. And while Matt is no picnic, he's no Jen, either.

We'll find out for sure at next week's finale, but what do you think? Will Jen hurt or help?

I have to say that leading into last night, I was clearly betting on Christina. She just has more upside to her, and she has great cooking instincts. But she acted like a spoiled brat regarding the decorating, and I began to wonder again about whether she has the maturity to run a kitchen.

Petrozza, meanwhile, shows some depth of emotion that I think could serve him well managing a kitchen staff. But is it me or does he also come off as kind of wide-eyed wacky? He was agog over Whoopi Goldberg's cameo. And all she did was walk in and exchange a few words. No offense to Whoopi. But still! Would he be able to cook if an A-list celebrity walked into his restaurant?

He did have the funniest line of the night, though, when he nearly lost a challenge in part because he had the audacity to serve risotto with a filet, a pairing that an Italian chef said was akin to sacrilege: "Give me a break you ding-dong," Petrozza said in his aside to the camera. "Beef and risotto doesn't work? Why? Because your great grandpa never mixed risotto with something else?"

Other highlights:

-- The chefs won a five-night stay in Dubai and time in Chef Ramsay's kitchen there. "Where's Dubai?" Christina asked.

-- Some snappy editing: Christina, arms crossed over her chest, fuming over the stripes decorating her new dining area. Cut to earlier scene of her with the decorator, picking out the offending decor: "I definitely like the stripes better."

-- Christina and Corey back together again.

-- The return of teensy tiny Louross. "Never short on style," Chef Ramsay noted.

-- The never to be humble Jen: "I'm far superior to any other competitors and my goal tonight is to make Chef Ramsay second guess the fact that he got rid of me."

The show ended with a cliff-hanger of sorts, as we won't find out until next week which team Jen is destined to help -- or hurt.

--Rene Lynch

(Photo courtesy Fox)