”Hell’s Kitchen”: The cruelest cuts
Good evening, my little mini-doughnuts, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen, where I’d like to cut the small talk and get right to the point: Oh my God, Julia went home. I don’t know how my broken heart is still beating. Sure, I told myself not to get attached — especially given the end of this interview, from way back in May — but it was hard not to love that Waffle House person in all her imperfect glory. So a moment of silence for Julia, friends, a woman who walked in a short-order cook, and walked out a chef. A chef with a strong reliance on fried chicken products, but still a chef.
What an episode she rode out on, right? The very first line was kick-ass! ”Does he think I’m entertaining?” squeaked Bonnie, having just survived last week’s elimination. ”Is that why I’m still here?” It’s possible that ”entertaining” could be perceived as a euphemism for something other than ”entertaining,” but since this is a family magazine, I’m just going to pet Bonnie on her cute blond head and say, Yes, dear. Chef Ramsay finds you ”entertaining.” But now that the battle of the sexes is over, you are going to be judged only on your skills. Please note that ”skills” is not in quotes.
With the merge came our first individual challenge, and the cheflings were told that they’d be going somewhere to cook for ”trendsetters” — apparently a euphemism for ”celebrities.” Jen went so far as to exclaim, ”If it’s Mariah, or the Rock? I will pee my pants!” But alas, there is always a twist. This time, ”trendsetters” meant ”high school students,” and it was time for a cafeteria lunch. Given an hour to prepare food for 100 students, the cheflings explored the full range of crap kids won’t eat: Rock whipped up a meatloaf, Josh some salmon, Bonnie chose breaded goat cheese on greens, and Jen went with chicken fettuccine. Only Julia’s grilled chicken ‘n’ cheese managed to nail the tone of the challenge, and with 51 percent of the vote, she soon found herself whisked away to Vegas, picking Jen as her reward buddy.
Naturally, we scored another shameless plug for that casino place — I’ll be damned if I can remember the name! Green Acres? Green Berets? — but we also got a chance to see Hell’s Kitchen season 2 winner Heather, who is currently toiling away next door in the Red Rock Hotel. Despite the fact that she declared Terra Rossa to be ”her” restaurant, you will notice if you look closely at the Internets that she is not the executive chef, her supposed prize. And while I don’t want to make any unfortunate comparisons between her appearance and those of Bill Rancic, the frequently wan Apprentice winner Donald Trump keeps trapped in a dungeon below Central Park… Oops, I guess I just did.
Back home, the losers cleaned, then prepped for dinner, and Bonnie took the liberty of chucking some perfectly good monkfish. Thus was the table set for disaster, and it didn’t disappoint: The minute service started, Josh collapsed. He cooked risottos and spaghetti before they were ordered. He got called a donkey. And as reports came back that some of the long-suffering risottos were undercooked, Ramsay pulled Goatee Boy aside and — well, the polite euphemism for what happened next is ”yelled at him.” But really, let’s go with ”ripped him a new a–hole the size of Cleveland.” Gordon screamed ”GET OUT!” three times, threw a spoon at Josh’s rapidly departing back, followed him out into the hallway, screamed ”GET OUT!” two more times, called Josh a sack of s—, and told him to leave the jacket. Josh slunk out the back door, bags in hand, officially the first contestant ever to be tossed out of HK early, and simultaneously way too late. If you missed this, mushrooms, I hope to God someone puts it on YouTube. It was phenomenal.
The goatee was gone, but its spirit lived on in Julia, who struggled on the garnish station; Bonnie and Jen, who had their usual communication issues; and Rock, who descended into his scary dark place. After a couple organizational run-ins with the girls, we were treated to a confessional in which he said the following, which I will put in its own paragraph because I’m afraid if it gets too close to the other words, they might beat it up for being *@$%#$ stupid ass $@*#$&:
”I enjoy working with women a lot of times. Not like these bitches, you know. I understand it’s a competition, I want to win, too. But I’m not trying to put anybody down to bring myself up.”
I invite all of you to point out the inherent contradiction within that statement on the comment board below. Also, please teach your children not to talk like this. Thank you.
Now I want to move on, because I’m out of space, and there’s so much show left. I will gloss over the remainder of the childish Rock/Jen fight, including Jen’s best insult (”Big man, big man”) and Rock’s follow-up comment (”Simple ass broad”). I will also spare you all the three indignant paragraphs in which I spin off into a rant about men who disrespect women in a work setting, and how I feel they should be stabbed. I’ll just jump ahead to the end of service, where Bonnie was declared ”spot-on,” and asked to pick two cheflings for elimination.
(Somewhere in here, Rock started crying. If I felt sorry for him, I’d put more effort into talking about it. Mostly I just want to make sure he knows that I completely agree when he says he’s disappointed his family, and he’d better come back next week as fluffy as a g–damn baby bunny or I will excise him completely from my recaps and use the extra space to talk about baseball or something, and no one wants that.)
Bonnie picks Rock and Julia, Julia gets sent home. In that much-awaited touching moment, Chef Ramsay tells Julia he’s going to personally send her to culinary school so that she can come back to Hell’s Kitchen and win it all. Don’t tease, Fox. Bring her back. That woman was an inspiration to us all with her humility, grace, talent, persistence, good humor, and occasionally smart mouth. I’d eat her fried chicken products any day.
Finally, just two questions, as I’m 187 words over my limit: (1) Next week is clearly the ep where family members come to visit and everyone cries. Are you as sick of that trope as I am, especially the implication that most adults cannot spend more than a month away from their loved ones without going all fetal? (2) After they showed Josh walking out with all his bags, did anyone else picture him striding over to the I-10 onramp, sticking out his thumb, and starting the long, sad hitch back to Florida? Worst Coachella ever, dude. I know.
[Due to space constraints, we are forced to bump Michael Endelman’s description of the food in Hell’s Kitchen to next week. Please stay tuned. Sorry, Endo.]