‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Review: “8 Chefs Compete”
When we last left our chefs in ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ Tiffany was given the boot for her lack of passion and incompetence as a leader in the kitchen. Robyn is still a drama monger, creating plenty of conflict in the blue kitchen and unable to own up to her mistakes.
Today Chef Ramsay has a giant map with ingredients labeled on it and moves it to reveal a southern gospel choir because today’s challenge is all about southern cooking. The challenge: to reinvent a classic southern dish. Dana seems worried because it’s not her forte, but Kimmie is pumped because it’s precisely the kind of cooking she’s comfortable with. The contestants will have to choose an entree and a side dish, as labeled on colored fans held by members of the gospel choir, though they won’t know what they’ve gotten until they’ve chosen a fan.
Clemenza and Barbie choose a catfish and collared greens dish. Brian and Kimmie get pork chops and grits. Christina and Justin choose fried chicken and mac and cheese. Last are Dana and Robyn, who get meatloaf and sweet potatoes. Now that the gimmicky portion of the episode is over, maybe we can get back to the cooking.
The chefs have 30 minutes to create their dish, which should reinvent a classic southern dish with a sophisticated culinary twist. Things aren’t looking great for Brian, who has never made grits and is following the directi0ns on the box. The judge for today is Tanya Steel, a food critic from Epicurious.com.
Up first are Clemenza and Barbie with their catfish and collared greens dishes. Barbie’s dish is a blackened catfish with bacon collared greens, and Clemenza’s dish is a catfish po’ boy. Barbie takes the point. Next up are Kimmie and Brian — Kimmie has an oregano, panko-crusted pork chop with cheese and bacon grits. Brian’s dish is severely undercooked, and with raw pork being so dangerous to eat, Kimmie automatically gets the point.
Christina presents a soggy fried chicken dish with bacon gravy and mac and cheese against Justin’s more traditional dish with lobster mac and cheese. Justin takes the point. Robyn puts up her over-seasoned, open-faced meatloaf sandwich against Dana’s bacon-wrapped mini meatloaf with sweet potato puree. Dana takes the point, giving the ladies the win and Dana’s dish will be featured on Epicurious.com.
The ladies win a special photoshoot and lunch at the Four Seasons, while the men will be prepping the kitchen for an entirely new southern menu and making fresh French bread with churned butter.
Kimmie is feeling pressured to lead her team thanks to her southern background, but an earlier argument with Barbie during their winners’ lunch may come back to bite the red team in the ass. The special menu features crab cakes, fried chicken, and catfish, as well as that fresh French bread and butter the men labored over all day.
The women are doing great right out of the gate, while Brian in the blue kitchen fumbles with the fried oyster appetizer. His second batch is perfect and the blue kitchen continues to chug along. Back in the red kitchen, the women have completed their appetizers without incident and have moved onto entrees, which Kimmie and Barbie are working on together, and could prove disastrous given their earlier squabble. Naturally, the first catfish dish they put up is burnt.
The blue kitchen is experiencing similar problems with their catfish preparation, and when Brian gives Chef Ramsay a smart-assed response he’s promptly kicked out of the kitchen, but is convinced by Ramsay’s head waiter to return and prove himself. Thanks to the delays, people are getting restless in the dining room.
Kimmie’s second attempt at catfish goes over well with Chef Ramsay, but Robyn and Brian continue to hold their team back with their under- and over-cooked meat and fish preparations. The red team encounters another speed bump when Barbie serves up under-seasoned greens, giving Kimmie more fuel for her inevitable elimination nomination.
Robyn apparently doesn’t know how to cook chicken, which is the easiest meat to prepare, as evidenced by her second batch of fried chicken which is just as raw — if not worse — as the first. This flub gets the blue team evicted from the kitchen, but the women follow close behind when they also attempt to serve up raw chicken.
Chef Ramsay sends Chef Scott to corral the contestants downstairs for a good berating and to inform the teams that they must each choose one person for elimination. The red team nominates Kimmie for her poor leadership and her bad catfish, which held the team back. The blue team nominates Robyn for her inability to prepare chicken correctly and her multiple attempts at serving raw chicken. In a shocking twist, Kimmie is sent home, even though, had Robyn’s raw dishes been served, she could have made someone very sick.