After getting a workout with a pasta-making challenge, the cheflings try and mostly fail to serve family-friendly food

By Whitney Pastorek
April 22, 2008 at 11:18 PM EDT
type
  • TV Show

Hello, my little weird Thai soups, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen. I was already in a bad mood tonight because the San Antonio Root of All Evils beat the Phoenix Suns again, and this episode just put me over the top. Between all the yelling and medical emergencies and undercooked poultry and general cluelessness — ugh, I’m not feeling so good. But no one tunes in to HK to feel better about things, so I guess that makes what we witnessed a success. I’d like to thank Craig for doing his part to pick me up at the end…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We opened with last week’s closing: Chef Ramsay telling the cheflings to ”f— off,” then calling Bobby a punk (in reference to his loaves-and-fishes moxie). Ben, on the other hand, was pretty sure all the yelling meant Ramsay was just testing him (and his ”different techniques”) during the previous service. Yes, Ben, that’s what we’d all like to think when we’re being criticized. But I can’t invoke the Space Campspeech twice in one week, so I suspect in your case, you might just suck a little. Then again, everyone’s sucking these days, sucking so badly that Ramsay wouldn’t even let them go to bed. Instead, he called them downstairs to clean up the mess they’d made in the kitchen. Everyone begrudgingly got to work, except for Corey, who decided she’d done enough and headed upstairs to sleep. The way I see it, her teammates couldn’t hate her a whole lot more than they already do, so might as well cash in some of that hatred for some z’s. That’s what I’d do, anyway. But then, I’m a sleeper. (Except on Tuesdays, apparently.)

The next morning came, as morningtime is wont to do, and Ramsay assembled everyone back in the kitchen, then informed the group that because their services have been so colossally bad of late, they were being demoted from grown-up food to kiddie fare, and Hell’s Kitchen would seat its first-ever ”Family Night” that evening. And what do kids love? That’s right: pah-sta! Nothing a kid loves more than some good old-fashioned clam spaghetti, especially if the clams are really mussels, and super big and gray! For the challenge, though, it was time to make all that pah-sta, which involved a great deal of cranking and pounding and flouring and more cranking. Whoever produced more pah-sta via the aforementioned ”pah-sta aerobics” would win!

Well. Since Toolsack wasn’t there to provide this week’s dose of sexism, Jen went ahead and handled it for him. But even though the challenge involved all that scary hard physical labor, she ain’t never run from a dude, and she ain’t gonna start today. And sure enough, after a somewhat drawn-out weighing process, the women took the challenge by over a pound. Thus would the men stay behind and prep both kitchens for Family Night, and the women take off for a fun-filled afternoon at what may be the only place in Los Angeles that’s actually tackier than the Saddle Ranch: the Santa Monica Pier! Yes, the ladies all piled into a Hummer limousine — by the way, happy Earth Day, everybody! — and headed west to ride the excruciatingly underwhelming roller coaster and shout their freedom into the ocean while secretly plotting to throw Corey off the Ferris wheel. [Author’s note: Actually, the Santa Monica Pier is pretty much fun if you stay off the rides and stick to skeeball. Also, Fox has been holding its big TCA party there every summer of late, and since it’s traditionally the most fun of the big TCA parties, I’d hate for anyone to think I don’t want to go. I want to go, Fox.]

When the girls returned from their big reward adventure, Ben was shoveling horse manure from the Family Night pony rides in the parking lot, and inside, the men were rallying around Craig, who was on the pah-sta station. Nothing to worry about there, of course. As Craig put it, pasta isn’t rocket science — and if those aren’t famous last words, then I’m pretty sure the Suns-Spurs series can’t get any worse. Ramsay declared that the first team to finish service would win (such optimism!), yelled at J.-P. to take off his tie, and opened Hell’s Kitchen. At this point, all I could think was: Those kids are gonna learn some fun new words tonight.

The women got their first apps out right away, thanks to Vanessa (who’d finally stopped crying), but Matt sent out a bunch of raw chicken wings — always trying to help people get to know their intestines, that Matt — and Ben’s onion rings were insufficiently crispy. Instead of fixing them, Ben sunk into Chef Ramsay’s eyes for a bit, and between the eye-sinking remark and his constant belief that C.R. is testing him, I’m pretty sure that Ben is developing quite the man-crush on Ramsay. I’m also interested to know what happened to that part of his goatee where no hair grows, but that’s neither here nor there, nor is it the most interesting thing that happened tonight, because somewhere right about now, Shayna set a pan on fire. The flames shot high above the stove, and as Vanessa jumped in to move the pan off the burner, she managed to splash boiling oil on her hand, and got carted off to the hospital. This was nowhere near as dramatic as I’d hoped after seeing the scenes in last week’s previews, but speaking of touching hot stoves, I guess I’ll never learn.

NEXT: Craig can’t do the math

So the women were a man down, but Jen was in control, and things kept swimming along. Meanwhile, in the dining room, children were eating their shirts, and in the blue kitchen, Matt was burning burgers like a trainee at Whataburger. Yet somehow, Ben and Bobby thought things were going well, and started yukking it up, congratulating each other with much high-fiving and mirth. Chef Ramsay, perhaps having eviscerated Bobby enough for one 24-hour period, screamed at Ben for this, then told the men to ”dig deep, touch your [unintelligible], and wake up!” But Craig served up some spaghetti with clams instead of meatballs, and that was pretty much it — the women finished their service and won, somewhat resoundingly. Somewhere Toolsack is probably crying: Gordon then sent the women over to help the hapless men finish and keep more children from eating their clothing.

The Rain Man affliction that’s been passed around all season chose this moment to strike Craig. ”I got it I got it I got it,” he repeated, as women tried to help him get that last damn spaghetti out. Then he burned his hand and cussed. ”You got some attitude, son,” Jen could be heard to say as we went to commercial. Jen is now a star, according to Ramsay, but Ben is a surprise, and not in a good way — especially not after Ben decided to misinterpret the comment as a compliment. (What is Ben’s deal, kids? Do we know where he comes from? Why does he keep getting this Incompetent Prodigal Chef thing from Ramsay?) Bobby, meanwhile, was named best of the worst, and everyone tromped upstairs to talk about who was going home. Well. God forbid Craig should beg. He’s not a dog, you see! Not a pet dog! He is a pain in the ass, though, according to Matt, who really appeared to be in no position to talk at that point. And sure enough, when they got back downstairs, Bobby put both Craig and Matt on the chopping block.

Ah, but it was the Most. Shocking. Elimination. Ever! Sort Of: ”There’s one more person standing behind you that I need to hear from, and he knows who he is,” said Ramsay after Matt and Craig stepped forward. Poor Ben! This test would never end for him, it seemed! So he threw down the only card he had left: Cooking is all that God has given him. Now, Ben! That is clearly untrue. You have a fetching fauxhawk, for example, and at least seven eighths of a goatee! Be ye glad! Also, you are neither Craig nor Matt, both of whom are such quivering lumps of metaphorical (and in one case, literal) Jello I could not be bothered to write down what they said during this part!

Until. Until. UNTIL Ben said he’d give Chef Ramsay 100 percent. Matt saw his 100 percent, and raised it: Matt will give 125 percent! Ooh! The ball was in Craig’s court! What would he go with? The classy 150? The full 200? The bonkers 1000? ”I don’t know percentages,” offered Craig. ”But, just…over that.” Over that? Matt, sweetie, this is not The Price Is Right. You can’t bid 126 and hope that carries you through. Wait — do you even know that 126 comes after 125? It’s too late now anyway, because Chef Ramsay voted your sad little butt home. But look at it this way, Mr. Wizard: At least you can put your penis substitute chef’s toque back on without fear of it being set on fire by an angry Brit, eh? That’s gotta be worth something. Like, maybe 126 percent of something. (I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)

So, my icky red Thai soup darlings, what did we think tonight? Will Jen’s momentum hold? Will Ben ever find the love he so desperately needs? Were you happy to see Vanessa come back to the dorms? Wouldyou allow your children to eat anywhere near Hell’s Kitchen? And does anyone know a good Thai-food delivery place on the west side of L.A.?

Gordon Ramsay verbally abuses wannabe chefs. Bon appetit!
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