On ''Hell's Kitchen,'' the guys win the challenge to make something good out of leftovers, but when everyone fails at dinner, Brad basically pulls himself off the show
Credit: Kharen Hill

”Hell’s Kitchen”: Leftover night

Oh, my little dragon rolls, I am tired tonight. It’s partially from lack of sleep, partially from a total-immersion Harry Potter project I undertook this weekend, and partially from today’s announcement that my arch-nemesis, The Apprentice, will be returning sometime in the not-so-distant future. Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if there exists a prophecy — not unlike that which bonds Harry and Voldemort — in which it is foretold that either I or The Apprentice must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. Alas, and much woe. Also, can there really be no other programming options for NBC? Have they tried National Keno Night?

So I needed an awesome Hell’s Kitchen to raise my spirits. What I got was okay. Sure, there was a good solid block of ”donkey!” action during service (as well as a new addition to the canon, ”doughnut!”) — but thank God the merge is coming next week, because I’m a little bored. Aren’t you?

Tonight started with the annual make-a-meal-from-leftovers challenge, in which the guys cooked some interesting stuff while the girls squabbled and came up with diner food. Bonnie’s tasty ”rustic” soup gave the ladies a glimmer of hope — I am at a loss to explain what ”rustic” means in the context of a fine food product, as would not soup out of a can be, by definition, quite ”rustic”? — but regardless, the guys eked out a victory. Now, I would like to point out to the large group of people casting aspersions on last week’s challenge (in which the women won a photo shoot) that there is a very good chance the decision to reward the men with paintball was not a coincidence. Best as I can figure, the producers have gender-friendly prizes in their pockets and choose what’s appropriate for the moment…

…although ”appropriate” is probably the wrong word for paintball, as the apparently sniper-trained Chef Ramsay made short work of the dudes out on the course. Meanwhile, the girls were left at home to clean and unload boxes, where a mix-up in the fish order (that never really got resolved) set Bonnie a-cryin’, and I knew we were in for a long night. It just got longer when Gordon told the cheflings they’d be creating their own menus, and everyone started tossing out fancy foods and meats they weren’t sure how to cook and insisting on referring to mac ‘n’ cheese as ”cassoulet” — well, everyone, that is, except for Julia. Who is, as freshly minted hardass Jen put it, ”a Waffle House person,” and therefore unqualified to play kitchen reindeer games. But God bless Julia’s big mouth: When Ramsay asked if everyone was represented on the girls’ menu, she just flat out said, ”No.” He gave her the chance to add a dish; she chose New York strip steak; and boom, a culinary star was born. Declared to be ”amazing” by Ramsay and essentially the only success of the night, Julia’s simple steak proved once again that very occasionally, substance can win over style. I hope children are watching this show. It’s so inspirational. Between curse words, that is.

As the ”Waffle House person” saved her teammates’ collective ass yet again, over on the blue team, Josh was busy butchering an entire flock of lamb chops. ”Josh definitely can’t handle Vegas, baby,” Rock said during a confessional, and I would agree — Josh appears to have no skills applicable to this show outside of ”designated hottie” (though I’d ask you professed lovers of Captain Goatee if maybe your standards have not sunk dreadfully low). But even worse, as their teammate flailed to the beat of a dozen ”donkey!”s, Brad and Rock refused to help. They just stood there and stared — and that made me nuts. It’s fun to watch people cook something that’s not risotto; it’s not fun to watch people act like dodo birds being screamed at by a mad shar-pei for half an hour. I kept waiting for any signs of success on the blue side, any hints that tonight’s final decision might be somewhat close, but they never came. From what I saw, the women were the clear winners, yet Ramsay declared everyone to be losers once again. And that, my darling Toaster Strudels, was when I realized I wasn’t just tired; I was exhausted.

(Something else that sunk in for me tonight, as an elderly woman tucked into her lamb and murmured, ”It was worth the wait”: Was it really? The food that finally comes out of the cheflings’ kitchens is worth waiting three hours for? Perhaps this is a question for my former EW colleague turned Hell’s Kitchen patron Michael Endelman, and I should ask him to drop by and review his culinary experience. Because honestly, unless I am picking flecks of real live diamonds out of my teeth at the end of the meal, no food is worth waiting the full length of an NFL game to receive.)

Come elimination time, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Josh and Bonnie would be nominated; instead, for reasons that are a little unclear, Brad decided to play the martyr and fall on his sword, while making vague reference to people who were ”waiting in the wings.” (I assume that’s Brad-speak for ”flying under the radar.”) In response, Rock got all indignant and hollered, ”Say my name! Say ‘Rock’!” at Brad. But sadly, no one likes saying Rock’s name as much as Rock likes saying Rock’s name, so — to Bonnie’s great surprise — off Brad went. Ramsay declared he lacked finesse, and since Brad for the most part had still not established a definable personality, I guess I can’t get too worked up over the decision. Farewell, generic chunky white guy! May your cassoulets never burn!

Like I said, the merge is upon us next week; so, too, is some sort of shocking incident that appears to leave Rock in tears. I kind of can’t wait, to be honest, because I’d like to see this show recapture the full head of dramatic steam it had at the top of the season. Speaking of steam, I wonder whose job it is to set pots of water on to boil for dramatic effect before elimination. Perhaps all that lifting of liquid is why Jean Philippe has thrown out his back? Also, when Bonnie said that seeing Melissa get kicked off was like ”watching a movie, and some main character you’re not expecting to die dies in the first five minutes, and you’re just like, ‘What?’ ” — did you, like me, wonder what show Bonnie has been watching? And your big question for the week: What’s more obnoxious, Rock’s persistent third-person self-referral problem or people who append ”baby” to any mention of Vegas?

Episode Recaps

Hell's Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay verbally abuses wannabe chefs. Bon appetit!

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