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'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Ramsay's 'shocking' moment...not shocking

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It’s every man for himself in Hell’s Kitchen from this point on, and the switch from separate teams to a unified group made not a bit of difference for these “chefs.” The dinner service was a hot (literally) mess, Ramsay invaded Gio’s space bubble, and Ramsay shared the “shocking announcement” teased in last week’s preview. The shocking announcement was not shocking for two reasons: 1) It was fairly easy to guess what was going to happen based on the chefs’ performances and 2) It’s hard to be shocked by something that is obviously a stunt that will last no more than one episode. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me start this recap by expressing my newfound hatred dislike for Ben and his “Bow before me for I am the kitchen God” attitude – especially considering that, unlike the cocky cook, my short term memory is intact enough to recall that he screws up consistently every week. But, more on Ben’s delusions of grandeur later. The episode started off with the chefs receiving their fancy-shmancy new black shirts signifying that they are no longer working as two individual teams but as one uber-team. Of course, team work has never been their strong suit. For the challenge, the chefs were competing as singles and were required to create a dish using all 14 of the ingredients Ramsay provided them. The winner of the challenge would be going to San Francisco with the Brit for a culinary tour. The chefs got to work creating their meals and I can honestly say for the first time this season that the dishes – made with wine, pasta, rosemary, and chicken among other things – actually looked rather yummy.

Ramsay liked all six of the dishes prepared (!) and was basically complimentary even when a dish wasn’t perfect. Ben was proclaimed the winner – something that no doubt contributed to his smarmyness later – and was allowed to pick one person to share the prize. He picked Robert. As for the losers, well they had to spend the day unloading the food delivery trucks and prepping the kitchen for dinner service. Ben tried to explain why he chose Robert by saying that Robert has evolved in his time there and blah blah blah. Word to the wise Ben, it is splendidly condescending to claim to be rewarding someone for something you yourself have not yet managed to do. Still, the duo headed off on a private jet and spent their day touring the city and riding on a San Francisco trolley a la Full House. Meanwhile the remaining four unloaded trucks, dropped and broke bottles of wine (Gio), miscounted lobsters, and got on each other’s nerves.

After Ben and Robert returned and dinner service was upon them, Ben bragged to the camera that he was not worried about “being outshone by anyone.” Seriously?! I mean, really. There can only be two explanations why he strutted (so to speak) around like a peacock in this episode: 1) He thinks that being super-confident will somehow suddenly instill him with talent, or 2) His memory is wiped clean every time he sleeps like Drew Barrymore’s in 50 First Dates. Either is plausible.

Then came dinner service – the downfall of many a mediocre chef on this show. Andrea suffered a mini-meltdown when Ramsay asked her to repeat an order back and she got so frazzled she blurted out “I have no idea!” Then the entire group tried to shout the order out all at once – which, appropriately enough, made the kitchen sound like an excited preschool classroom. Ramsay blew up at Andrea’s lack of attention and ordered her out of the kitchen. J.P. played the role of cheerleader and convinced her to return to the kitchen, which she did. Gio, however, had the roughest time, starting off by serving bloody chicken. (Really makes you wonder who was unlucky enough to have been fed by these chefs at their previous gigs, eh?) The aforementioned space invasion occurred when Ramsay called Gio a f—face and Gio responded calmly “I’m not a f—face.” Wrong reply. Gio found himself nose to nose, literally, with the Ramsanator – who jutted his head back and forth like a pissy chicken while he screamed into the poor guy’s face. Then, while pulling a scalding hot pan of wellingtons out of the refrigerator (why? who knows…) Gio accidentally burned Robert’s hand. Second degree burns, dude! Youch! Ramsay closed out the dinner service with a sentiment that pretty much sums up the entire season of Hell’s Kitchen thus far: “Same s—, different day.” Indeed, dear Gordan, indeed. Needless to say, Gio was sent packing. Personally, I’ll miss the guy. He was really…not detestable – which is high praise, I swear.

Ah yes, the announcement. The chefs were roused from their slumber in the middle of the night by a phone call from Ramsay demanding them to report to the dining room. Once assembled, he dropped the proverbial bomb – he is (GASP!) closing Hell’s Kitchen. Riiiiiiight. Perhaps those of us untouched by the wicked forces of cynicism would be jarred by this announcement. I simply found myself rolling my eyes and groaning to no one in particular that it’s not shocking when it’s something that obviously gets resolved pretty damn quickly seeing as it’s, ya know, the basis for the show. Come on Ramsay – give me something a little juicier. I’m beginning to lose my sunny disposition.

What about you Popwatchers? How did you react to the “shocking announcement?” How do you feel about the remaining 5? Who should get the ax next?

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