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'Hell's Kitchen': Who needs luck when you've got talent?

October 14, 2009 |  9:35 am

If Dave can cook like this with one arm, imagine what he can do with two?

The one-armed bandit stole victory from 16 other competitors, winning this season of "Hell's Kitchen" and arguably the best job ever offered by Chef Gordon Ramsay: Dave will assume a high-profile spot at the helm of the Araxi restaurant in Whistler, B.C., which will welcome the world come the 2010 Winter Olympics.

And he did it all while wearing a cast on his left hand, and in such severe pain that he was often brought to tears by it and sometimes could not fully lift heavy objects -- like, say, a sauce pan -- with his bad wing. Chef Ramsay at one point considered sending Dave home, out of fear that Dave was doing permanent damage to himself.

Good thing Dave convinced Chef Ramsay to keep him around:

Dave and Kevin edged Ariel out in the round of three, and then Dave went head to head with the hairless one in the finale. In a twist, there were no restaurant wars of seasons past, just flat-out cooking. A handful of competitors who had been eliminated earlier -- including ugh, Suzanne -- came back to help with the Last Supper. (Is Robert insane? What kind of message did he deliver to potential employers. That he would sabotage a chef -- and, ultimately, a customer's dining experience -- if he doesn't get his way? Fire him!)

Kevin's dishes were gorgeous to look out but challenging to prepare. Dave's menu was super simple -- all the better suited to Araxi's emphasis on local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. And it was super simple to execute. It helped give Dave an edge. But really, Dave's willingness to suffer under Chef Ramsay while also in excruciating pain, combined with his natural abilities and sophisticated palate, won him the job. And it earned him an outstanding compliment from Chef Ramsay, who said he wished Dave luck, and then added: "Honestly, I don't think he'll need it."

The show ended with outtakes from the season -- a great touch. Wouldn't you like to see more of those, perhaps with each weekly episode, in future seasons?

-- Rene Lynch