This week’s Hell’s Kitchen made me smile. It wasn’t a particularly thrilling episode, but it featured a number of delicious quotes and charmingly impromptu moments. It also allowed me to confirm my rooting interests: Dave and Tennille. They’re not the show’s most accomplished chefs (those would be Kevin and Ariel), but they are the two individuals most responsible for making this season of Hell’s Kitchen entertaining — they’re the spice in an otherwise bland mixture of contestants. So, in lieu of an exhaustive recap, I’m going to devote this post to highlighting how awesome Dave and Tennille were this week. If you must have a recap, here’s a quickie summary: The red team won the taste-testing team challenge and was rewarded by dining with Ramsay in a completely dark restaurant; the blue team won a dinner service in which both teams made it to the finish line; and Ramsay sent Amanda on her way because “sweet girls don’t make great head chefs.” Now on to Dave and Tennille…
Ramsay commended Dave’s performance at the end of dinner service, and with good reason. Despite his lethargic speech delivery, Dave is actually speedy in the kitchen, and he puts more visible effort into his cooking than anyone else on the blue team. He saved Andy’s neck by quickly making extra mashed potatoes when the team ran out, and Ramsay made sure to point out Dave’s motivated energy. But more than anything else, Dave’s commentary is golden. Maybe it took me a few weeks to warm up to his style, but I now find myself hanging on Dave’s every word. Here were his best remarks:
1. During the taste-testing team challenge, Andy was one item away from letting the red team win. Cut to a twitchy Dave with his hand tucked under his armpit: “This sucks, dude. I can’t take this tension anymore!” There’s something endearing about Dave becoming so nervous about watching, of all things, other people taste food. I guess it all depends on what you’re passionate about. I’ll be saving Dave’s line for October baseball, when my beloved Angels will inevitably face the most vicious team of all: the Red Sox. Grrr…
2. The blue team had to make sorbet as punishment for losing the team challenge (is it just me or does making sorbet sound like a rather pleasurable punishment?). Dave noticed Van’s jacket, which was covered in pomegranate juice, and made this observation: “Everybody got pretty dirty, but it looked like Van had been involved in a drive-by shooting.” Priceless.
3. Another part of the blue team’s punishment was being forced to drink entire meals that Sous Chef Scott placed in a blender. Dave cracked me up by stating the obvious: “You’re not supposed to drink duck!” That quote is a bumper sticker waiting to happen.
I’m aware that many of you on the comments board are anti-Tennille, and I agree that she can be grating at times, but come on — she’s a riot! When Andy stepped up for the tasting challenge, Tennille was worried that he’d ace the test, prompting her to deliver the most bewilderingly marvelous line uttered so far this season: “Andy is one of the most epicurious mamba-jambas I’ve ever met before in my life.” Now, epicurious isn’t a real word (it’s a combination of epicure, meaning a person with refined taste, and curious), but it sounds damn impressive. And then to follow this seemingly sophisticated word with mamba-jambas is simply sublime.
Tennille is also forthcoming. She speaks her mind, as we saw two weeks ago when she had the audacity to cuss out Ramsay. This week, it fell upon her to tell Suzanne why the red team dislikes her, and Tennille’s lecture was one of forceful clarity: “It’s about the team. You don’t say, ‘I’m ready.’ You say, ‘Chef, we’ll be ready in two minutes…we’ll be ready!’ That’s what this is about.” That’s exactly the advice Suzanne needed to hear, and let’s see if she actually adjusts her demeanor in the coming weeks.
Plus, you have to appreciate Tennille’s response to being named the week’s “Best of the Worst.” Tennille was the first one to leave the kitchen, and as the rest of the red team approached, she began conducting an imaginary orchestra. Obnoxious? Probably. Yet it was a wonderfully unexpected moment, and is the kind of unorthodox behavior that transforms one into a memorable reality-TV character. Regardless of who is crowned the champion this season, it’ll be Tennille who stole the show.
Speaking of crowning champions, here are this week’s rankings:
1. Kevin — As we saw last night, the blue kitchen fell apart when Kevin left to serve sorbet.
2. Ariel — Still quietly doing her part without causing trouble, although she may need to display more vocal leadership in the future.
3. Dave — Dominated this week. Last week I said Ramsay wouldn’t hand Araxi Restaurant over to someone as mellow as Dave, but as LauraT pointed out in the comments board, the guy’s low-key personality would thrive in Whistler, British Columbia.
4. Suzanne — The red team will try to abolish her, but Suzanne knows her stuff (she correctly cooked those scallops despite Tennille’s criticism that they were too dark).
5. Tennille — The show is positioning Tennille as the “come from behind” surprise victor. That likely won’t happen, but her strong performance this week gives her a bit of hope.
6. Van — His risotto was called “bland” by Ramsay, and a customer sent it back to the kitchen.
7. Andy — Hanging on by a thread, but at least he didn’t do as poorly as…
8. Sabrina — Served raw food yet again, prompting Ramsay to kick her out of the kitchen and make her “taste her own medicine” by eating her undercooked lamb.
PopWatchers, which contestant has been the most fun for you to watch this season? And who else here would be down for eating in a pitch-black restaurant? I’ll drive.