After the women win the gourmet-pizza challenge, the teams tie in the kitchen, but the injured Vanessa's voluntary departure saves the two nominees

Good morning, my little toaster strudels, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen. My DVR decided to record Reaper last night instead of HK — opting for literal devil over producer-contrived hell — and so I got up bright and early out here on the West Coast to watch the show online and then bring you all the action, in a slightly truncated, very sleepy fashion.

Things started off okay last night: The boys found the exit of their Napoleonic buddy Craig ”dramatic,” and Ben still couldn’t figure out why Chef Ramsay keeps yelling at him. ”This is harder than boot camp,” Ben declared to Bobby, after climbing into bed. ”Anybody want a cookie?” asked Petrozza, who’d just wandered in with a plate. ”I just had some,” muttered Ben with the resignation of someone who knows what they’ve just said will be edited into the episode to make them look stupid.

Quick update on Vanessa: She told the boys she had to visit a plastic surgeon, and her hand was all wrapped up and immovable, though she still had some use of her opposable thumb. The women, to their credit, seemed willing to carry her for the time being — Shayna even braided her hair — but Vanessa said she felt like a jackass. Suck it up, V! was all I could think as the cheflings headed downstairs for the challenge.

According to Ramsay, a good chef can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. He gave the example of his $200 white truffle pizza (looked like tree bark on a plate, but that’s just me), and told the two teams to create a ”fine-dining pizza” with the veritable cornucopia of fresh gourmet ingredients laid out on the pass in front of them. I was confused — how was this not wasting food? — but I forgot all about that when Bobby scrambled to come up with the name of one of the options and blurted out ”sea murchins!” Hey, cut the guy some slack — he’s only just now been on a boat.

As the men tried to cook their pizzas, Matt asked the team about the pans heating on the stove. No one answered, and he got very frustrated by the lack of communication. ”That’s why we lose,” he said. Everyone basically made fun of him. Then he turned in a pizza made of — among other unintelligible ingredients — zucchini and salsa verde, which made Ben gag. Matt! You are three for three! Every time someone shows up on screen and tastes your food, pukeage ensues! Congratulations! This left the boys with three options: Bobby’s shrimp and Kobe-beef pizza, Ben’s duck-confit pizza, or Louross’s tomatoey-lookin’ thing, which Ben ate and compared to Pizza Shack, which I take he didn’t mean as a compliment, even though I have eaten in many a delicious Pizza Shack in my day and not had to pay $200 for the privilege.

The boys chose Ben’s pizza to send to Ramsay. The girls picked Jen’s tomato and prosciutto combination. The latter won, mostly because Ben insufficiently washed his mushrooms. ”Sorry to let you down,” Ben said to Ramsay. ”You didn’t let me down, you let your team down,” replied Ramsay. And at least one member of that team is pissed: ”Some people’s cooking skills?” mewled Matt. ”It’s starting to show that they don’t have any.” Hmm. Are any of you a doctor? Is it possible for the inside of someone’s mouth to taste like curdled milk all the time, thus giving him a perpetually sour facial expression andthrowing his palate so far off that any food he thinks tastes good immediately causes normal humans to puke? Maybe? What if they wanted to taste blood? Just asking.

The girls were ecstatic with their win, especially Jen, who is getting cockier by the second. As a reward, they got to fly to Santa Barbara in a helicopter to eat $90 hamburgers and make the same bland comments reality-show contestants have been making for thousands of years about how the real reward is not the fancy food or the trip but the chance to pick the brain of the show’s mentor. Snore. This left the men behind once again to prep and talk about their feelings. While the women primped, Chef Ramsay tried to persuade the guys to start bonding. But Louross — who’d been in a snit all morning — put a towel over his head like Eddie Curry on the Knicks bench this season and got all teary-eyed, according to Ben, like a ”whiny-ass punk bitch, with his little mohawk.” Oh, stuff it, Ben. You basically have a fauxhawk and you know it, and Louross was trying to mend fences when he told you your comment about Pizza Shack hurt his feelings. You don’t have to be so rude. Also, Ben, I must beg of you to stop using the word ”bitch” as a pejorative term meaning ”weak.” Because I know some bitches who will happily eff your ess up, hipster boy, if you catch my drift.

NEXT: Vanessa quits…er, leaves?

Before service, Vanessa went to talk to Chef Ramsay about her hand and how frustrating it was not to be able to use it. And then Vanessa quit, though she’d prefer if you’d call it ”leaving,” not ”quitting.” Whatevs. This was all somewhat less than dramatic, and I never much liked Vanessa, who always seemed on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I think she kind of wimped out in general, but then, I’ve got use of both my hands right now.

The service itself turned out to be pretty boring, too, despite the addition of a pointless pizza-delivery shtick (except for the one shot of J.-P. driving the pizza go-kart up on the curb, which was precious). Jen nailed her apps, Matt made some eggs that reminded C.R. of ”Pamela Anderson’s f—ing implants” but then Bobby fixed the situation because he is a four-star general, Rosann melted down on the veggie station but Jen turned things around, Louross overcooked his beef but Petrozza saved his tiny Filipino ass by doing ”the most ghetto-est thing ever,” delicately slicing off the exterior to reveal perfect, medium-well steak inside. And Christina was freaking out over desserts before Ramsay sent Corey back there to arrest her soufflés’ fall. End result of all this boring teamwork? Suddenly, magically, our cheflings completed a service. I felt kind of empty inside.

So it was time to send someone home, and since there were no losers last night (except for my DVR), each team nominated their weakest player…or so they said. Louross — who Ramsay called ”deplorable” this evening — manned up and accepted his nomination, even though it seemed like everyone would much rather boot Matt. Meanwhile, the girls settled on Rosann until Jen tried to make a Corey-esque power grab and sent Christina up there. Ramsay looked at his two options as if he’d just asked for a pack mule and been given a Lipizzaner stallion instead. ”Are you threatened by Christina’s intelligence?” he asked Jen. ”No…I feel that I decide my fate in Hell’s Kitchen,” Cocky McLovesherselfalot replied. ”That’s my f—ing job, sweetheart,” snapped Ramsay. ”I didn’t realize I was a detriment,” said Christina, sensing her power. Let this be a lesson to you all: Hell’s Kitchen cannot be played like Survivor. Twice the women have tried, and twice they have failed — because Ramsay didn’t boot anyone last night. Thanks, Vanessa! RIP! I hope your hand gets better!

What did you think, strudelpuffs? Boring episode, or should I just never watch this show at 7 a.m.? If someone had been sent home last night, who should it have been? And given the scenes from next week, might we finally see the return of Julia?

Episode Recaps

Hell's Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay verbally abuses wannabe chefs. Bon appetit!

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