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'Hell's Kitchen': Burners on!

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Julia_l

Julia_lF*@#, you s*&#^$ c*@&%$@&#&, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen, our annual chance to watch British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay scream the crap out of his lungs while all around him, contestants struggle to complete the same repetitive cooking tasks. Last night, our third season began, and yes, they’re still trying to make lobster spaghetti and beef Wellington and that sodding risotto, but for whatever reason, I can never get enough of watching them suck at it.

So bigtime bonus for me: If the fine folks in the HK editing suite are to be believed, this season’s butchered risotto is to be More. Extreme. Than. Ever! Ordinarily, this being a Fox show, I’d take that boast with a grain of salt (When Overzealous Promotional Departments Attack!!), but as exec producer Arthur Smith’s promise of “man tears” overflowedeth in the first episode, I can’t help but wonder if, after all these years, the former fourth network might not be ready for a little honesty in our relationship. I sure hope so, as the scenes from what’s coming made it look like someone is actually going to spontaneously combust during a service. That would rule.

After the jump, won’t you join me for a quick look at the start of HK3, where tempers flared, claws were bared, and we learned just how many years of culinary school you actually do need before you learn how to fry an egg?

Did you guess the correct answer? That’s right, 5th graders: You need exactly zero (0) years of culinary school to know how to fry an egg, and apparently anything from one (1) up to infinity (∞) to learn how to screw that simple process up! We learned this lesson from Julia (pictured), a Waffle House chef (okay, short-order cook) who showed up all the “real” chefs in the Red kitchen by finally getting the quail egg appetizers out, even though those classist snobs originally didn’t want to let her touch a thing. Oh yes, the women of HK3 are truly outstanding, my friends. In fact, after last night’s dreadful first service — SHUT-TIT DOWN!! — Chef Ramsay called the Red Team “Hell’s Bitches,” and he was right on the money.

For example: “It doesn’t matter who I’ve got to f— over to make myself look better,” said Joanna, just one of the many classy chicks who remain after the (okay, fine) shocking first round booting of the cocky Tiffany. But here’s two faces to watch as things move forward: Melissa, a hot line cook who can fix a mean steak, and Julia, the Waffle House lady. The latter was the logical choice to go home tonight as the rest of the ladies were agitating for her demise, but she was retained, wisely, by the former. Now I can’t help but wonder if Julia is the person about whom Arthur Smith said this: “There’s one person in this year’s cast whose improvement is so dramatic that Gordon probably showed more affection to this person than he’s ever shown before. It’s obviously not at the beginning, but there’s a real lovable episode where it’s a good cry-fest. And Gordon does something very special for h— for this person.” Hmmm…

Over in the boys’ Blue kitchen, life is less testy but more boring, with only Vinnie, a diva with boy band hair, providing much excitement. Trouble is, aside from one clever remark about GR looking like a Shar-Pei when he’s mad, it was mostly excitement of the annoying variety. Like alleging that Ramsay is being critical because he’s “intimidated” by Vinnie’s mad skillz (skillz that render him incapable of making a single edible appetizer in an hour). Or saying the following after service: “I didn’t know what you wanted, you didn’t want to show me… what did you want me to do?” It doesn’t sound all that douchey typed out, but you gotta trust me, PopWatchers, the dude’s a tool. He’d do well on the Red Team, where we’d probably learn that it’s all an act for the cameras, and deep down, he just wants to cry and bite his pillow.

Speaking of crying, big props to Aaron, the retirement home chef whom Sir Hollers-a-Lot referred to as both an “Asian cowboy” and a “chunky monkey” within seconds of meeting him. Aaron, who is 48, turned in a spectacular performance as a whimpering, squawling toddler last night, losing his meatballs (not literally; we do not have a meatball dish in HK) no less than twice, his massive head erupting into almost cartoonish representations of “sadness.” I hope he does not have a family or any particularly close friends, as I’d imagine that Aaron’s meltdown was very hard for them to watch. Speaking of hard to watch: Eddie, the 5’2″ grill cook whose small stature and thick Southern accent make him come across as a sort of Dewberry mini-me, and who is likely to be dispatched very soon in an incredibly vulgar manner. (Unless, of course, he’s the person about whom Arthur Smith said this: “There’s one person in this year’s cast whose improvement is so dramatic that Gordon probably showed more affection to this person than he’s ever shown before. It’s obviously not at the beginning, but there’s a real lovable episode where it’s a good cry-fest. And Gordon does something very special for h— for this person.” Hmmmmm!)

To sum up my feelings after last night’s kickoff: Hell’s Kitchen fascinates me. I think it is a combination of Ramsay’s charisma, the incredibly bad acting of the dining room patrons, the melodramatic announcer’s breathy little voiceovers (“…others will wish they had never been born!”), and, as I said before, the chance to see people go insane because of their inability to duplicate a process more than once. I don’t know much about food, I cannot cook, and I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten risotto… but it doesn’t look that hard. Looks a bit like Rice-a-Roni to me, frankly. And I’m pretty sure I could make Rice-a-Roni right two days in a row. But then again, maybe I couldn’t, and that’s why I’m here blogging whilst gnawing on an unfrozen TV dinner.

Anyway, did you watch? Did you like? Who is your vote for Exploding Kitchen Person? And does anyone else think “chicken fried chicken penne” sounds like a dream come true?

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