In the season finale, after Matt and Jen do their best to sabotage their respective team leaders, Chef Ramsay chooses the promising Christina over the more creative Petrozza

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated July 10, 2008 at 12:06 AM EDT

Good evening, my little shrimp tacos, and welcome to the conclusion of Hell’s Kitchen! ”Tonight. Is. The night,” said Chef Ramsay at the top of tonight’s episode, immediately evoking memories of my time as a camp counselor, when the owner would begin every session with the same four words, kicking off another two weeks of Tribal Competition. Red vs. Blue! Caddo vs. Osage! The smell of lighter fluid and melodramatic torches on a hot Arkansas night! Wait, where was I?

Ah, yes, I was in hell. Or its kitchen, rather, for the very last time. After a surprisingly restrained intro of only two minutes, they slammed us right into the action on this, ”THE” most important night of Christina and Petrozza’s cooking careers. At the end of last week, both were caught in the web of suckitude woven whenever freakin’ lunatic Matt and raging bitch Jen are on the scene; in the resolution of that surprisingly decent cliff-hanger, Petrozza had first pick between the two disasters, and for reasons that only he can explain, he chose the BBJ. ”I definitely know the reason I was picked second to last is because of how strong of a leader I am, and they don’t want to be outshined in their kitchen,” she said, delusional to the very end. ”Thank God Petrozza took Jen,” Christina said, obviously convinced that through her encouragement, Matt would still be crazy but might actually produce some food.

Back at the dorms, the new teams planned for service. Christina won over a reticent Matty by claiming to have created a risotto station just for him. (”He bought it hook, line, and sinker,” she smiled.) Sadly, there was nothing but villain music playing over on Petrozza’s side, where Bobby expressed reticence about working with Jen. I can’t imagine why. What’s not fun about egotistical glowering? Especially when your head chef has nothing prepped? ”I’m a tiny bit overwhelmed,” said Petrozza. ”Being a prep chef for Petrozza is like people playing the violin when the Titanic was going down,” said the BBJ. Ah, Jen. You have these flashes of brilliance. How great you might have been.

With six hours to go, both restaurants were still under construction, the better to generate false tension with, my dear. Meanwhile, Jen seized this opportunity to ask Chef Ramsay for a letter of recommendation. ”You know, whatever you think honestly of me,” she told him. ”Minus my big mouth.” ”I hate her. I officially hate her,” was all Corey could say from across the way, before turning her attention to Matt, who’d begun singing to the food. ”Christina, for your own safety, you need to tell this guy to get serious,” she said. But Kung Fu Panda was too far gone for that. Meanwhile, Jen had put her career aspirations on hold long enough to turn up the poopy attitude: After Petrozza tossed an extra ”sweetheart” into their request for risotto, she came back with ”My name is Jen, not sweetheart, and it’s a minute and a half.” In case you’re wondering, it was right about now that I sort of stopped caring about tonight’s result, and just wanted the bitch-fest to be over with.

NEXT: Matt attack!

We got a glimpse at the menus: Christina had some ”delicious” sliders that needed sexing up, her ”signature” strip steak ‘n’ succotash, and a ”fantastic” tropical sundae. In general, Ramsay appreciated her food, encouraging her to ”go the extra mile.” But Christina, wisely, had put together a menu that it would be very hard for her team to screw up, albeit a not-very-glamorous one. Petrozza, on the other hand, started with lobster strudel, which Ramsay found a bit ”curdled,” then added his ”signature” filet mignon — this time with caramelized risotto! — and a soufflé with whiskey crème anglaise, whatever the hell that is. [Thanks for the fact check, reader Lajean.] Ramsay deemed the menu as a whole ”brave” and ”dangerous,” then started doing his annual impression of the late, great Steve Irwin, if Steve Irwin had spent his life trapped in a cooking reality show.

The dining rooms were finally ready, and it was time to open Hell’s Kitchen for the final service: Christina’s comfy L.A. bistro versus Petrozza’s rustic ladies’ department-store bathroom, er, Hamptons-style club room. Both chefs called out their first orders nicely — those acting lessons a couple weeks ago really paid off! — but while Christina’s apps made it out of the gate, Bobby was left rearranging Petrozza’s stuffed intestines, er, lobster strudels on their plates only to bring them to the pass cold. This provoked what I consider to be possibly the greatest comment in the history of this show, if only for what I get to say after it. ”Stick your finger in everything!” yelled Petrozza. ”Touch everything! Taste everything!” All together now: That’s what she said.

Soon enough, however, Bobby got the strudel sorted, just in time for Christina’s side to get backed up. Why? Simple. ”Matt sucks,” said Louross. And suck he did, incapable of making even salad. He also could not sufficiently cook a monkfish, which he brought up to the pass raw, raw, raw. (Unlike the steak that came back from the dining room, which was just ”lukewarmish.”) Both Ramsay and Christina yelled at Matt, and he decided this was the right time to start telling people to shut up. For example: ”How can you do that to her?” Ramsay wailed. ”Shut up already,” Matt responded. ”Concentrate!” hollered Louross. ”Oh s—,” I wrote in my notebook. Sadly, this was all nipped in the bud before Kung Fu Panda could get tossed out on his ass, and mostly just resulted in lots of yelling from Christina. (Yelling at incompetent cooks in hopes of making them cook better = honking in standstill traffic? Discuss.)

But not even the Matt fiasco could match what was happening in Petrozza land: First, the Titanic ran out of ingredients for not one but two of the appetizers, a problem Bobby rectified by coming up with a brilliant plan to make lobster risotto instead. (How ever did he think of that dish, do you suppose? Surely not because it’s one of the two things any HK chefling can cook!) (Second thing: Wellington.) (Sort of.) But then the BBJ’s bad attitude really kicked into high gear, and she proved incapable of frying a single crunchy onion ring. ”Come on!” moaned Petrozza. ”Put up a decent onion ring!” Oh, I could listen to that man say ”onion ring” all day. I am also fairly certain even I could cook an onion ring sufficiently (maybe even with one arm tied behind my back), and you’re talking to a girl who, just this morning, rendered cereal inedible by accidentally pouring cranberry juice in the bowl. (I didn’t get much sleep last night. Thanks, obsessive personality that kept me up rearranging commas in a 1,800-word document until 5 a.m.!) Anyway. Ramsay came right out and told Petrozza he had ”one awkward bitch” in his kitchen, accused Jen of sabotage, and told her there was no need to be ”f—ing disrespectful.” I for one would pay the Fox Television Broadcasting Network a large sum of money to read any letter of recommendation he’d care to write for that girl.

NEXT: Christina gets a big head

Despite it all, at the proverbial end of the day, Ramsay announced — of course — that things were both neck and neck and anyone’s game. Back at the dorms, Petrozza and Christina each expressed strong desires to win, coupled with misgivings about whether they’d done enough to accomplish said desires, I started thinking aboutthis genius clip, featuring the only reality-show cliché that had gone unused in the past three or so minutes of TV. But no time to dwell — the big decision was upon us! Using his very best sleepy-time voice, Ramsay told the final cheflings to step up to the doors and, on the count of three, open them to their dreams. But only one would find their dream tonight, and, not at all shockingly, that chefling was…

Christina! Yes! According to Ramsay, it came down to potential and thinking long term! She won every individual challenge and has pretty much been the most rational person on the show all season, but hey! It could have gone either way! As she ran downstairs to hug her mother — whose mouth might be hanging open in shock to this day; highly emotional or accustomed to underestimating her daughter? — Ramsay embraced a shaken Petrozza, then headed downstairs to spray some champagne in Matt’s face. Christina let out her feelings with the classic pairing of ”Holy f—ing s—!” and ”Oh my God, look at my big face!” while Petrozza took time to comment about how all the ”beautiful people” he met over the course of this experience were ”priceless.” (It is too bad Petrozza made that comment too late to be included in the aforelinked friendship clip. I like the guy, and he deserves at least that much of a 16th minute of fame.) One more moment in the big chef’s faux office, where he confessed that this season had been like a ”roller coaster” for him, with the most ”ups and downs” in HK history, and I found myself almost pitying the guy. Then I remembered what I’ve been through, and when Ramsay closed with ”It’s time for me to get the f— out of Hell’s Kitchen,” I actually spoke aloud to my empty apartment. ”Likewise, old chap,” I sighed. ”Oh my God, likewise.”

And so, my darling shrimp tacos, that means you can get the f— out of here, too — but not before weighing in on tonight’s episode. Did C.R. made the right decision? Would you eat in Christina’s restaurant? What are the implications of today’s C.C. Sabathia-Rich Harden trades? I don’t know that I have answers for any of those. Tell ya what: Meet you back here next year, when the continuation is sure to continue again, and we’ll sort it out. Meanwhile, be good to each other and yourselves, and don’t forget to check the pancetta for fingertips.

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