Hell's Kitchen recap: Jen X-ed
Good evening, my little fruit salads, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen. I turned last night’s ep on after the conclusion of the 2008 NBA finals, knowing full well that there was no way HK could match the ecstasy I felt watching Kevin Garnett win his first championship (”Top of the world, ma!”) but that it continues to be my duty to bring you all the borderline-competent cooking action, so here we go.
We opened last night to Christina dealing with the ramifications of last week’s elimination. ”The idea of being stuck here with Jen is not a pleasant one,” she told the camera, after she fingered Jen for elimination, only to have GR boot Bobby instead. The BBJ seemed to go through something of a change of heart. ”I appreciate your honesty up there,” she told Christina. ”You are totally entitled to how you want to feel.” But no one was really fooled, especially not Corey, and certainly not me. BBJ is welcome to repeat her mantra of ”Everyone is just threatened by me” all she wants, but I’m pretty sure she’s just not as good a cook as she thinks she is. (I cannot speak to her fashion sense, though I’m sure she’d like to, if given the chance.)
The next morning was challenge time, and the cheflings filed downstairs for what Ramsay announced would be the ”mother” of all challenges. Oh ho, I get it! It’s gonna be pregnant ladies! (Yeah, okay, so my DVR info box tipped me off, whatever.) But the cheflings had no idea who was coming to lunch — ”Oh! 50 Cent!” prayed Jen hopefully — and so they set about cooking 80 portions of something in an hour. Christina went with an ”island turkey sandwich” with a side of curried avocado (why you wanna be messing with perfectly good avocado?), Corey with a salmon BLT. Petrozza opted for a Monte Cristo — or as Jen called it, ”a heart attack dipped in a stroke with a side of cardiac arrest” — and BBJ made a ”calypso grouper.” It was all I could do not to start singing the ”Banana Boat Song,” but then Ramsay did it for me. (”You banana” — better or worse insult than ”you donkey”? Discuss!)
NEXT: Eating for two
Everyone seemed to be trucking right along except for Corey, who couldn’t get her food plated in time, and if there’s one thing we all know, it’s don’t keep 80 pregnant women waiting. So she came in last, Jen came in third (much to the ongoing dismay of Jen, who now feels that all pregnant women in the world are also threatened by her), and Petrozza lost to Christina by two votes. So off went our tomboyish culinary student to the Lisa Kline boutique in Beverly Hills, while the rest stayed behind to clean. Her trip — during which Chef Ramsay decided she looked like Elizabeth Hurley, and I decided I need to be richer so I, too, can do lots of kicky little twirls while shopping, not at Target — brought out levels of bitterness heretofore unseen within Corey and Jen, and not even Care Bear Petrozza could talk them down. Jen at this point declared herself to be the Grinch, but ”definitely” with better fashion sense. (Also, all the Whos down in Whoville are threatened by her.) The bitterness was so bad that when Christina returned from her reward and tried to help with prep, no one would even speak to her. Thank God, again, for the Care Bear, who opened up to little Chris, and led everyone to a nice ”Kumbaya” moment right before service.
”Unite as a team. Emerge as individuals,” Chef Ramsay encouraged before they got underway, and for whatever reason, that pep talk worked. Jen and Corey had appetizers leaving the kitchen on wings (Dear Announcer Man: Surely there is another way to describe the act of pre-entree dishes being cooked and served with alacrity besides ”flying out of the kitchen”) with their ”nicely cooked” scallops and ”stunning” risotto. It was their best start ever…but suddenly, Jen’s rice turned to mush. (”Mush!” Ramsay repeated, as though we didn’t catch it the first time around.) He began badgering Jen for more: Jen, Jen, Jen, I need the risotto, Jen, Jen, and all BBJ could do was repeat ”Yes, Chef!” over and over again until she finally brought some good rice up to the pass. ”You just confirmed how lazy you are,” said Ramsay to this move. ”You blow hot and cold.” ”Yes, Chef!” replied Jen, adding to the camera later. ”Damn, he ain’t playin’ today.”
And then came the incident from last week’s teaser, in which one chef repeatedly burned Ramsay with a pot. This would be where I was expecting Garnett-style fireworks, but no dice. Seems Christina kept flame-broiling the handle of her garnish pans, and GR seared his hand twice on them; Christina looked at him like a ”thick cow” the first time, and he threatened to boot her if it happened again, but it did, and he didn’t, and that was that. (I’ll say this: If your cooks are bringing the pots to the pass with hot pads, maybe you, too, should be using a hot pad, Gordon?) Chef R. was almost too busy nursing his sore hand to notice that Jen was demonstrably not helping Corey and Christina get the last plate of scallops out: Instead of ”dropping” eggs, she was just stirring a single pan of risotto. Not until he said ”Teamwork, Jen. Teamwork, yes?” did she pitch in. I think, knowing what we know now, this may have been the moment her fate was sealed.
NEXT: Cursy Care Bear
This really did turn out to be the best service all season, despite Corey trying to send some John Dory sushi out to the diners. The real star was probably Petrozza, whose piggy ways persist but who finally got Ramsay to admit that they didn’t affect his cooking — he brought up a plate of filets tonight that made my mouth water, and I don’t even have HD. Once they got everyone served and sent happily home, Chef Ramsay distributed high fives and bad news: Someone’s still gotta go home. The cheflings were asked to reach a consensus, which they did by putting names in a hat; weirdly, Christina’s name came up three times, despite the fact that she didn’t vote for herself and Corey claimed not to have voted for her. Hmm. Jen? Thoughts? ”I’m actually getting a heart now.” Petrozza (in confessional): ”You cold bitch.” Wow. Is there a Cursy Care Bear?
In the end, Corey volunteered — at no small risk to herself — to step up opposite Jen on the chopping block. And after Ramsay asked her why she deserved to stay (love, BTW, how he always asks this question as though he’s just thought of it in that very moment), she reminded him that she’d bounced back a bit, and that she was also far more honest and a better team player than Jen. Jen, meanwhile, played the whole ”This will be the best thing that could happen for me and my family” card, but I just wasn’t feelin’ the Julia vibes with her — in fact, I didn’t feel them once all season, despite the fact that the producers were clearly hoping for this. Clearly neither was Ramsay. ”Corey,” he said, in greatly suspenseful fashion. ”Say goodbye to Jen.” He was very sweet to Jen on her way out, but that doesn’t change the fact that attitude killed BBJ after all, and I’m not particularly sorry to see her go. Cut to fistfight between me and my colleague Alynda Wheat, who thinks the Mean Girls teamed up to kick her off. I maintain what I said at the top: Jen was never as good a cook as Jen thought Jen was.
So what up, party people? Final three, holla! That means we are almost done for another year, which brings me to a place of quiet reflection. Looking back, did you see these finalists coming? (Quick reminder: a hen. In a pumpkin.) Who’s your pick to win now? Any pregnant ladies wanna weigh in on favorite maternity dishes? How cute was the winking, grinning ”Now f— off” of Ramsay tonight? And can I get a round of applause for Paul Pierce up in here?