Category: Hell's Kitchen

'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Please don't let it be Sabrina....

Where were we before that pesky baseball thingy interrupted us?

Oh, yes. Sabrina is still like nails on a chalkboard with streetwalker style. Trevor spends more time defending himself than actually cooking. Gale just looks befuddled. I can't see beyond Jillian's eyebrows -- but her confessionals are endlessly amusing.

Frankly, I'm not rooting for any player this season, no one really stands out for me. I'm going to put the two redheads -- Nona versus Russell -- in the finals. What thinketh you? Nona needs to step up, and Russell needs to step off with that ballistic temperament. (Russell: It's a game. Of course people are going to try to throw you under the bus. That's the whole point of this thing.) But I think they're the best of the bunch.

This week we had one of "Hell's Kitchen"'s best challenges: The taste test. It never, ever gets old watching chefs mistake filet mignon for chicken, or black truffle for watercress. And it was even sweeter after nearly all the chefs failed to identify the dishes chef Gordon Ramsay trotted out as being from a fast food joint or, heaven help us, a gas station. But, man, are the cheftestants unsympathetic when their fellow colleagues screws up. It's not like any of them perfectly aced that challenge.

No surprise that Vinny was sent home, but I was kinda surprised that Rob's ride was cut short. Were you?

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Gordon Ramsay looks like he's strained something hollering at Russell. Credit: Fox

'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Can we get a fresh risotto, please?

Thank goodness I don't have to watch Boris sweat anymore.

These back-to-back dinner services were the most pressure filled in "Hell's Kitchen" history -- and that's saying something. First up was Family Night, featuring a carnival theme for the wee ones -- including chef Gordon Ramsay's very own family. You'd think that a contestant on "Hell's Kitchen" would pull out the stops for this first family. You would be wrong. Vinny decides it would be a good idea to cut corners and give the Ramsay table a risotto that has been cooked -- but not used.

Cue what just may be the worst dressing down in "Hell's Kitchen" history -- and that's saying something.

"That's old!" Ramsay says as he goes ballistic and then lets lose with "shut your fat East Coast mouth. Even if it's not [for] my family, they deserve a fresh risotto." But that's not all: "Dirty little ... . I'd make your family, or your wife or your children a fresh risotto."

Poor, poor Vinny. He looked shock, mortified, ashamed. Poor guy.

Amazingly, miraculously, 90% of the customers report they are happy with their meals, and no one goes home. We had one of my favorite challenges -- the profitability challenge -- but when we get to the dinner service to celebrate 100 episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" -- it all falls apart again, and Boris ends up getting the boot. I wish we'd had more time with the past winners, including Rock, Christina, Holli and Danny, to see whether they were suffering flashbacks.

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'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Someone get Boris a headband

All I really want to do is fast-forward to next week. Someone -- some donkey -- apparently fails to make a fresh risotto for a VIP guest. And it's not just any V.I.P. guest. It's Chef Ramsay's family, in "Hell's Kitchen" on a night to celebrate the show's 100th episode.


But until then, I just have some head-scratchers. Is Sabrina any good? She was the "best of the worst" during the prop challenge. But was that luck? She didn't fall prey to the guys' attempts to sway her about who should be elimianted. Was that leadership? All we really know for sure is that she acts like a spoiled, stomping, attacking brat whenever she hears what she does not like. There's no way she's executive chef material, am I right? So how has she lasted this long? Oh, that's right, her temper tantrums are plenty entertaining. 

More questions: Can Nona cook, or just provide amusing commentary? Why is it so hard to cook scallops, which take about 120 seconds in a blazing hot skillet? (It seems like it would be easier to overcook them, and yet these cheftestants keep turning them out raw.) Why does Boris sweat so much? Is Gail the real deal? Does Rob really think he's all that and a bag of chips?

And speaking of temperament issues: Russell! He's clearly catapulted himself to the front of the pack with his leadership, but since when is it OK to use foul language in front of high schoolers? Even if they were worldly high-schoolers from Beverly Hills High celebrating their prom in Hell's Kitchen. Russell may not have liked working at their beck and call, but hey, that was the challenge. I thought that showed such poor judgment, and I half thought he would be eliminated just for that -- what a bad reflection on Chef Ramsay. I would have been furious if someone was mouthing off to my teenager like that. But what do you think? Am I being too sensitive?

Wasn't surprised to see Emily (aka My Cups Runneth Over) go home, or Melissa. We're winnowing the herd.

My reach-for-the-remote moment: Superimposing the faces of rival contestants over the artwork at the Getty. Hilarious, perfectly executed.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Chef Ramsay gives Emily the business. Credit: Fox.

'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Watch out for the salmon shrapnel

Is this the season of delusion?

I felt like I was in an alternate universe watching Rikki Tikki Tavi Raj (he got a little DeNiro there, didn't he?) yaking it up like he was the best chef in the joint, and Sabrina with her ghetto hood-rat routine. Good stuff.
If we've learned anything in nearly 100 episodes of "Hell's Kitchen," it's that each team needs to designate a whipping boy and girl, probably as a defense mechanism for dealing with the sheer stress of never knowing when you are going to be struck by salmon shrapnel.

On the men's side, now that Raj and Louis are gone, it's Trev. (Maybe it's just me, but I noticed so little of Louis that I thought "Who is that guy?" when he was eliminated.) For the women's team, it's shaping up to be -- Sabrina? I actually hope she sticks around a bit longer. She gets on my nerves in a good way with all that defensive posturing and eybrow pinching. I love how she blamed Gail for causing the women to lose the ravioli challenge when she ALSO lost a point for having busted up raviolis. Again with the delusion.

Chef Gordon Ramsay may be the dark overlord of "Hell's Kitchen," but he's also the king of spitting sarcasm, starting with sending emergency paramedics to wake up the contestants and check them out to make sure there wasn't anything wrong with them to explain why dinner service has been so pathetic so far. He found out that, nope, they're all in good health -- just incompetent in the kitchen.

And his "Gail, your pan's a bit hot" line -- while throwing the charred piece of meat over his shoulder into the sink where her skillet was still on fire -- was vintage.

Two "What the?" moments of the night:

-- Boris deciding in the middle of dinner service that it would be a good time to go do dishes.

-- Sabrina in that garish outfit as they headed to the Santa Monica Pier. Maybe it would be OL for night (not really), but in the harsh sunlight she looked like a street walker. And she should know there is only one TV personality that can pull off the flower-behind-the-ear get up. And that's the inimitable Miss Niecy Nash.

And finally: Hey, looks like Vinny can cook!

-- Rene Lynch / renelynch

Photo: Chef Gordon Ramsay gives thes the business to Nona. Credit: Fox

'Hell's Kitchen' recap: 'Bloody hell, here we go again'


And just like that, we're down three.

The first hour in the back-to-back episodes was barely in the books before Chef Gordon Ramsay managed to drive Antonia mad -- and into the back of an ambulance, and out of "Hell's Kitchen." "Spent" Lisa also hit the road, as did Cowboy Curtis, guilty of a sushi massacre.

Have we ever seen so many people fall on premiere night? It seemed like just one of many firsts, including the worst-ever opening-night dinner service. "Bloody hell, here we go again," Ramsay said. "I've never felt so disappointed on opening night."

Another first, but hopefully not a last: Sushi god/Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto graced "Hell's Kitchen" with his presence. Just one complaint, and it's a complaint I have in general with this show: Couldn't we have had an extra 60 seconds of Morimoto doing his thing? Same complaint when Ramsay cooks. I realize this is not a cooking show -- it's a reality show -- but give us an opportunity to watch these masters at work. Don't rush us through what little instructional cooking there is! What do you think? Am I wrong?

Some observations about this motley crew:

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'Hell's Kitchen': This just in...Gordon Ramsay laughs, smiles


What's that? You're suffering Gordon Ramsay withdrawals? How can that be, when we've barely had a week away from the cantankerous culinary maestro.

We went straight from "Hell's Kitchen" to "MasterChef" to..."Hell's Kitchen," which starts up again Wednesday night on Fox with 16 new victims -- er, contestants -- vying for a $250,000-a-year paycheck as a head chef at L.A. Market at the JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live.

As always, the show kicks off with a signature challenge -- the contestants make their signature dish -- and it takes a humiliating turn for one contestant. Keep the remote handy and watch for Ramsay actually throwing up -- not just spitting out -- what may rank as the worst dish in the show's history.

Before it's over, the ax will fall for two contestants, there will be sirens, a near wardrobe malfunction, Ramsay catches someone yawning, and one chef gets caught aping Ramsay.

Big mistake.

And we meet a new maitre'd. But of course, there is no replacing J.P.

In the meantime, if you really, truly are suffering a Ramsay withdrawal, check out this behind-the-scenes video of Ramsay horsing around with photographer Brian Bowen Smith.

--Rene Lynch / renelynch

'Hell's Kitchen': You're the winner, Mommy!

Holli_wins It's Holli.

Holli Ugalde, the 24-year-old banquet chef from San Bernardino, won Season 7 of "Hell's Kitchen," landing her a gig at Chef Gordon Ramsay's Savoy Grill in London, currently being remodeled as part of the Savoy Hotel's multimillion-dollar renovation.

Whether it was crafty editing or perhaps her Angelina-esque looks and coy laugh, Holli wasn't considered a contender in the early part of the competition. That honor went to the blue-haired Jay, who also made it into the finale, and Benjamin, who made it to the final four before his poor temperament and inconsistency in the kitchen caught up with him.

But before long, Holli began to shine and began winning week-to-week challenges. It was this progress that made her the winner, Ramsay said: Holli had grown more than any other cheftestant of the season, "and once she emerged, there was no holding her back."

Holli and Jay weren't just competitors in the finale ... sparks flew between these hot tub buddies.

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'Hell's Kitchen': Jay and Holli sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g....

It's a "Hell's Kitchen" first: rivals turned lovers in the finale.

The last four cheftestants standing were clearly rattled by their surprise family visits -- but while Holli and Jay used that to fuel their ambition, Benjamin seemingly used it to wimp out. He claimed his back was so bad that he couldn't prep, so he spent the day sleeping and hanging in the whirlpool and getting worked over by a chiropractor. He even told the other players that he was too injured to continue cooking, and said as much to chef Gordon Ramsay.

Perhaps Ramsay holds some secret restorative powers: After giving Ben a talking to, Ben was ready to go back into the kitchen.

This week, the first challenge was a "taste it, now make it" contest that Holli handily won. (Her prize was spending the day on a boat with her son and baby daddy, still raising questions about how close these two really are.) That caused Jay and Ben to act like little spoiled brats complaining about her. "I know I can beat Holli," Jay said of the woman he has been pitching woo with. And then he added an "Oh, of course," when Benjamin bragged that no matter what happened, he would be further along than Holli, career-wise, in three years. (We have no idea yet whether Holli and Jay are still involved, but if they are, that could not have gone over well if they were watching the episode together.)

The bigger challenge was all about taking turns overseeing every dish before it makes its way out into the dining room. Jay set the bar high, handling it all with ease. Holli was nervous when she started out but then pulled it together. Benjamin and Autumn had less-than-stellar performances. So it was no surprise that the two of them were sent home, leaving Holli and Jay in the final challenge: Creating their own restaurants.

"I'm going to clean the floor with him," Holli vowed.

So, who do you think is going to win? And does this relationship have a snowball's chance in ... hell?

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Holli and Jay in a sneak peek at next week's finale. Photo credit: Fox.

Cooking along with Gordon Ramsay

Were my eyes deceiving me? Or did Joe Bastianich make Gordon Ramsay look like the cuddly one by comparison?

It was "Cook-along with Gordon Ramsay" Tuesday night on Fox as we were treated to back-to-back episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" and the new "MasterChef," a one-two punch that we'll have for a few more weeks until "Hell's Kitchen" wraps up. 

In "Hell's Kitchen," Ramsay took the lambs to slaughter -- and then spared them at the very last minute. Autumn (who ever thought she would have lasted this long?) and Benjamin were put on the chopping block, taken off, and then handed much-needed visits with family. The reprieve will not last long, however. Ramsay said two contestants will go home next. Does this mean we could end up with love birds in the finale? I will say this much: I am going to be sorely disappointed if Benjamin is the last person standing. While I am not sure I would give the restaurant reins to anyone in this crew, I think Benjamin would slowly poison whatever kitchen he is in. He is so disrespectful of everyone around him and cannot communicate with his "brigade," and that will not inspire loyalty of any kind. And finally -- does Holli's baby daddy know that they are, um, presumably broken up? Sure didn't seem like it.

Moving on to "MasterChef." Last week, during a media conference call, chef Graham Elliott compared the judging table for "MasterChef" with the original judges on "American Idol." He said that he was Paula, Ramsay was -- get this! -- Randy, and that Bastianich was Simon.

Now we know what Elliot was talking about.

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'Hell's Kitchen': 'Don't you dare come up to my pass again!'

Scott-Leibfried Really, Benjamin?

You have been sorely lacking in leadership. Dinner service after dinner service, chef Gordon Ramsay has begged you to step up, but you haven't been able to lead your colleagues. Which makes your actions this week so curious, and so dumb. (And so much fun to watch.) So there we were in the midst of dinner service and Ramsay needed to leave the kitchen for a few moments. He put sous chef Scott Leibfried in charge. And so you decided that that would be a good moment to start acting like a leader, and you tried to edge Scott out and started calling out dishes. In other words, you proved that you cannot lead a bunch of people who are in dire need of leadership, but you decided that it would be a good idea to disregard what Ramsay said and take on his second-in-command.

Well, I'm really glad you did. That was perhaps the best tail-whipping of the season so far. Clearly, Scott has learned from the best. I cannot possibly quote Scott in full, because of all the expletives, but I did get this much: "Don't ever come up to my pass again!" But that doesn't begin to do justice to the intensity of it all. Maybe Scott needs his own show.

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'Hell's Kitchen': Mama mia! Chef Ramsay said what!?

This is leadership? Sure, Benjamin went over to women's team and immediately it was vastly improved. (If I didn't know better, I'd say those women just needed a man to tell them what to do.) But there is a difference between leadership and bossing people around, being rude, telling them that they are worthless and announcing, loudly, that you'd rather kill yourself than deal with your teammates. And that's exactly what Benjamin was doing.

Is this what chef Gordon Ramsay wants in his kitchen? Oh, wait ... maybe he does.

This night was largely about winnowing the herd and enjoying Ramsay's own way of dressing people down. The challenge was a special one: celebrating a couple's 50th wedding anniversary by updating the recipes served at their wedding, including trout almandine, steak Diane and chicken Kiev. Salvatore came up with chicken ... meatballs. Raw chicken meatballs.

So let's recap, shall we? Salvatore the Italian cannot cook pasta or meatballs. Mama mia! No surprise, he was the first to go tonight. Ramsay dispatched him with a "Your time has run out."

Ciao, baby!

Later, there was a special field trip to Philippe's in downtown Los Angeles and a terrific new challenge: Come up with your own gourmet sandwich a la the world-famous French dip. Because the red team has one more player, they had to pick someone to sit out the challenge. Benjamin chose, of course, Siobhan, because he was gunning for her. And you knew it was coming: Ramsay tried her sandwich and told the red team that if they had included hers instead of Fran's, they'd be the winning team. (Best line of the night, when Ramsay told Fran that she'd been up for elimination so many times that her footprints had left an indentation in the carpet.)

Instead, victory went to the blue team, which took a private jet to the wine country and promptly got pickled, with Ed taking off his clothes in the hottub and practically screaming: "Look! Look at my penis! Please look!" Isn't this guy a high school cooking teacher in his "real" life? Better lock up that cooking Sherry, folks.

But it turns out the sandwich challenge was Siobhan's high point. She botched her scallops at the dinner service, earning her a "You donkey!" from Ramsay, who then forced her to eat her mistake. And later he forced her to take off her jacket and leave Hell's Kitchen.

But here's my real question: The guy who confronted Ramsay about the undercooked steak. Was he for real? A plant? For a tough guy, he could barely form a sentence. But what was Ramsay saying in response? Between the quick patter, the bleeped-out bad words ... and the strangeness of it all, I could barely make it out. There was something from Ramsay about "go get a shave" and "you look like a quail." Huh? You look like a quail?! And then, I swear I heard something about a bunny. Did anyone else get any more than that? Let me know.

And note to Fox: Can't you subtitle these Ramsay rants? Pretty please?

— Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Benjamin and Fran try to set the place on fire. Photo credit: Fox.

'Hell's Kitchen': That's shambolic!

Did you reach for the remote? I sure did. I thought Holli said she had the biggest "corn" collection of anyone she knew, and I thought, "Hmmm, that's unusual, but then again she is a chef." Well, it turned out she said she had the biggest PORN collection of anyone she knew. And that she often made, er, private films with significant others. These tidbits were revealed during a "let's get to know each other" session led by the Italian Dr. Phil, a.k.a. Salvatore, who has a gift for getting people to gab.

Not to be outdone, Siobhan offered up that she used to dance in the nude and perform S&M. Presumably for money. 

OK, ladies! Thanks for (over)sharing and making your families proud on national TV! And although one person is expected to get a gig running chef Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at the London Savoy, maybe there will be two new gigs this season: We gotta get a talk show for Salvatore. (Especially since we know he cannot cook pasta.)

This week started with a squeal, as Ramsay had the cheftestants trying to wrangle cute baby pigs for the first challenge. Luckily, there was no butchering involved. But the little piggies helped determine which, um, pork dishes would be prepared in the next challenge. (I hope no one told the pigs.) The women lost -- again -- and had to give the piggies baths while the men got a day at Glen Ivy Spa and got to ogle Autumn in a teeny-weeny yellow bikini.

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