‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Review: “2 Chefs Compete”
There are three chefs remaining in ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ but only two spots available to compete for the title of head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Las Vegas. Will it be the talented but loud (so loud!) Dana, the strong Christina, or the confident Justin?
When last we left our chefs, Ramsay was just about to unveil the final two competitors, leaving the episode on a total cliffhanger. Ramsay announces that the final two chefs will be Christina and Justin, thus satisfying the show’s eternal need to pit a woman against a man for the final competition. That aside, we won’t be missing Dana’s loud (so loud!) mouth.
Christina and Justin are each tasked with creating a menu including four appetizers, four entrees, and two desserts for the final showdown. Early the following morning Ramsay calls the pair down to his office to inform them that their sous chefs, Andi and Scott, are not available because they’re waiting for the chefs in Las Vegas, where they will meet and have day of relaxation and planning for their big night.
After meeting with their sous chefs, Christina and Justin are given another surprise: Justin’s parents and Christina’s mom and girlfriend are brought in for some additional relaxation and a very special lunch. Following the reunion, they’re all whisked off to see a Penn & Teller show, where Penn saws Teller in half and reveals Gordon Ramsay operating as the feet. Ramsay pops out and introduces Christina and Justin to the crowd as the finalists of ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ and explains that he has an “esteemed group” of five judges who will judge the pair’s unique takes on the five common dishes that would appear on the menu of Gordon Ramsay’s Steak in Las Vegas: a salad, seafood appetizer, rib eye, filet, and fish entree.
To judge the salad round: Francois Payard, a world-renowned French chef and legit master of cuisine. Justin presents a charred heirloom tomato salad with compressed watermelon, feta cheese, and vinaigrette against Christina’s asparagus salad with fried egg and baby arugula. He finds Justin’s summery dish better than Christina’s, which he thinks has too much vinegar.
Up next is chef Michel Richard (how many favors did Ramsay call in?) judging the seafood appetizers. Christina has a coconut shrimp ceviche with cilantro, which Richard immediately expresses his disdain for, but says is well-seasoned and compliments her excellent work. Justin has a Ecuadorian-style ceviche, where the fish is poached first and the poaching liquid is used to sauce the dish. His explanation of the ketchup and orange poaching liquid does not sound very appetizing, but he takes the win again.
Julian Serrano judges the fish entrees, which include Christina’s pan-seared halibut and Justin’s dover sole. Christina gets her first win, and they move on to rib eyes with Stuart Gilles judging. Christina presents a port wine rib eye against Justin’s charred rib eye with beer battered onion rings and chorizo sauce. Gilles chooses Christina’s more classic presentation.
Next is the filet round, judged by none other than Wolfgang Puck. Justin puts up a charred filet with a butter poached lobster, while Christina gives a pan-roasted filet with haricot verts and gorgonzola mashed potatoes. Puck seems thrilled with both, but his tie-breaking vote goes to Christina.
Before the two of them can head back to Los Angeles for the final showdown, they must choose their subordinates from the eliminated chefs to support them in the finale, which means Robyn is unfortunately back. Christina chooses Dana, Patrick, and Kimmie and Justin chooses Barbie, Brian, and Royce. The final two are the slow-moving Clemenza and the antagonistic drama-monger Robyn — Christina surprisingly takes Robyn, leaving Clemenza for Justin.
The finalists meet with their teams to discuss the menus, and trouble is already brewing. Dana and Kimmie seem concerned with Christina’s ambitious choices, while Clemenza seems bored and disinterested in Justin’s explanation of the menu. Clemenza maintains that he has nothing to prove and doesn’t care to be there at all.
Will Clemenza leave Justin high and dry, or will he find the motivation to perform for one last service? We’ll find out next week!