‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Review: “18 Chefs Compete”
We hope you guys are ready for the return of hot-headed chef Gordon Ramsay. He's back for the 10th (!) season of 'Hell's Kitchen,' in which cooks will compete to win the ultimate prize: the chance to run one of Ramsay's own signature restaurants. But can they survive Ramsay's short temper?
Now that we're up to season 10 of this thing, it's hard to believe Gordon Ramsay has any restaurants left to give. Did he open a fast food chain to sell risotto balls? This year's prize is the position of Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay's Steak at the Paris in Las Vegas.
And one more thing: The title of the episode says "18 Chefs Compete," but let's get real here -- most of these people are not "chefs." They are cooks. They are sous chefs. They are line cooks. Some of them make waffles at the Days Inn by the airport with the self-serve waffle maker at the "continental breakfast" nook, and yeah, their waffles might be better than the waffle I'd make at 6 am after stumbling to the lobby with a hangover, but you aren't a chef just because you figured out the right waffle batter-to-iron ratio. Just wanted to get that little tangent out of the way so we're all on the same page here.
Chef Scott greets the contestants by telling them about how he shaved his head to prove how badly he wanted to work for Chef Ramsay. The restaurant briefly becomes a militant cult as the cooks volunteer to have their heads shaved, including the cutest, mop-headed, lanky cook of the bunch. Only one of the women manages to have her head shaved before Ramsay enters and orders them off to the kitchen to prepar their signature dish. The good news: Those people weren't really contestants. The bad news: This means that adorable stringbean fellow wasn't a contestant, either. My heart will go on.
Kimmie, a personal chef from a town called "Nutbush" (really) seems to be the no-nonsense, working class type with just a hint of ghetto. Other contestants have names like Barbie and Clemenza. Look, I'm not railing against someone's honorable heritage here, but Clemenza sounds like something they prescribe for you at the free clinic for a particular kind of itch. There seem to be a lot of contestants with the title "personal chef," which is really just a fancy way of saying that you work for or own your own catering business.
Don from Houston serves Ramsay with a huge dish of some sort of southern pasta concoction that doesn't go over too well, while Robin -- an executive sous chef -- impresses with her fish plate and earns a point for the ladies' team. Tiffany is up next with a horrendous plate of lamb covered in a rosemary and maple glaze. Kimmie is already proving that she'll be quite the troll this season when she refers to Tiffany as a "blonde b--ch." I think Kimmie and I are going to have some issues over the coming weeks. Ramsay refuses to try Tiffany's food, but Guy -- a former drill sergeant -- doesn't do much better with his pan-seared bass in burnt chocolate miso sauce (gross) that Ramsay describes as a "fish sundae." No points for either side.
A couple more points to both sides, making Roshni with her coriander lamb and Royce with his fish contestants to look out for. And then we get to the good stuff -- redneck Kimmie whips out a "fisherman's trio" dish that utterly fails, making Kimmie the contestant who's all talk, and thus was cast to create conflict and give the audience someone to make fun of. Oh, reality TV, you are so charming.
With 18 cooks competing, it's hard to keep up with all their names this early. It'll be a few more episodes before we get to know these people a little better, but Clemenza and Christina look like a couple more cooks to watch out for. I know, Clemenza -- I'm eating my own words.
The ladies win with more successful signature dishes and get to dine with two previous 'Hell's Kitchen' winners while the men are tasked with scrubbing the kitchen. Things don't look so good for the ladies when they return and Ramsay asks them to name off the entrees they'll be serving -- something they didn't learn while they were busy schmoozing over dinner.
Service gets off to a rocky start in the red kitchen, as Roshni can't seem to figure out how to cook scallops, and after three tries and 45 minutes of service, she's thrown out of the kitchen and replaced by Barbie, who turns out perfect scallops. The blue kitchen fumbles a bit with some missing scallops, but really screws up with raw pigeon and then with raw scallops. Tavon -- a 22 year old executive chef -- is the culprit in both instances, and it's only made worse when Ramsay discovers a giant tub of butchered scallops.
Royce, who talks about himself in the third person (yeah, that guy), is the third cook dismissed from the kitchen, followed quickly by literally everyone else on both teams. The biggest issue in this first service seems to be that everything is coming out raw. Maybe that's because everyone is rushing to cook as quickly as possible, and having a guy screaming at you to hurry the hell up when he knows how long it takes to cook this food (or at least he should?) isn't helping anything.
It's always a mess in the early episodes as the show literally suffers from having too many cooks in the kitchen, especially since most of those cooks aren't that good to begin with. When you weigh 'Hell's Kitchen' against a show like 'Top Chef,' you wonder how the latter show can accumulate such a high concentration of honest talent, while the former seems to only attract a few good eggs in a basket full of rotten headcases. Clearly 'Hell's Kitchen''s primary objective is basic entertainment, but I'm okay with that.
At the end of the night, after two hours of service, not a single entree was served on either side. The red kitchen completed their appetizer service, just barely earning them the win.
The blue team nominates Tavon for elimination based on his raw pigeon and scallops, and Don, who never even got a chance to cook. They should have chosen Royce, who took over for Tavon when he was kicked out of the kitchen. Ramsay dismisses their nomination of Don and asks Royce to step forward alongside Tavon. After a thorough scolding, it's Tavon who is the first to go home, and rightfully so.