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'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Has Ramsay met his match?

September 6, 2011 |  1:13 pm

Hell's Kitchen's Elise

"Hell's Kitchen" hath no fury like Elise.

She curses like a trooper. Doesn't give a hoot what anyone else thinks. Her dishes impress. She's got confidence to spare. She's ultra-competitive. And she is never, ever wrong. If chef Gordon Ramsay is looking for a protege, Elise just might be it.

Of course, she also makes everyone in her sphere of influence want to strangle her, but if anyone can beat that out of her, it's Ramsay.

Personally, I was relieved when Ramsay pulled a fast one this week and announced that no one was going home (after he stirred the pot by forcing them to choose two people for the chopping block.)

But the five remaining contestants put on a stellar dinner service, pitted against past "Hell's Kitchen" finalists who were back to clean up some unfinished business. (Guess that business still needs some tending to.)

What was fascinating about this week is the shifting fortunes. I thought Jennifer was a shoo-in for the final three, but now I have to question the judgment of a woman who would use her time (and the cameras) to announce her crush on TV. She also seems to be crumbling, and doesn't come across as someone who is healthy enough for such a stressful, demanding job.

That leaves Will, Paul and Elise, as Tommy doesn't seem to really have a shot. But Will and Paul have started to wobble. Elise is right. They are flat-out intimidated by her. They may be East Coast tough, but they can't take on this tiny terrier. Will practically packed up his bags and went home with his tail between his legs when Elise refused to back down during the menu challenge.

"YOU had to have been the problem," Will snapped at her. "I'm not the problem because I'm still here," Elise responded. (And she had a point.)

If she can continue to cook like she has, and nip at everyone's ankles like she has, do you think she could manage to be one of the last two standing?

Let's hope so. I suspect that a toxic, cancerous personality like hers would bring down the BLT kitchen, which is where this season's winner is headed. But maybe we can get the cameras to follow along for that.

Yes, that's right, I have done a 180-degree turn on Elise. I couldn't stand her in the beginning; now I still can't stand her, but I find her inability to recognize her own flaws eminently watchable.

I'm already counting down the hours to next week, when we've been promised: "You thought you knew Elise ... but baby you ain't seen nothing yet."


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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Elise. Credit: Greg Gayne / Fox