Hell's Kitchen recap: Party of Jive
Psst, Fox: I’m onto you. Yeah, you think you’re all crafty, but after four seasons of cook-risotto-fail-rinse-repeat, it’s gonna take a little more than some drivel about Shayna needing to get home to her baby for me to believe tonight’s episode wasn’t tampered with in order to retain the services of Matt, whose whining, bulky mass and emetic culinary skills are the kinds of things that on paper might make for ”better” ”television” but really just make ”me” ”uncomfortable.”
Yes, tonight’s continuation of Hell’s Kitchen was a serious disappointment, my little fish sticks, as the producers tipped their hand to confirm our darkest suspicions: This show is less about cooking now than it has ever been. After last week’s non-elimination (thanks to poor Vanessa and her sautéed hand), the teams went back to the dorms to lounge around and chain-smoke and bitch at each other. Christina went on another tirade about how when you strike her down, she will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine, blah blah blah. ”I’m the complete package,” she said, giving as evidence the fact that she looks ”great in a pair of heels,” followed by her ability to read books, and also cook. If this was called Slutty Librarian Kitchen, I suppose she’d be onto something. Since it’s not, this rant made very little sense.
And then there’s Matt. Whichever one of you commenters called him Sam the Eagle last week was pretty damn spot-on, but I think you just insulted Sam the Eagle. Matt, who thinks Bobby and Ben are incompetent (though they’re obviously running the team), was mad as hell, and his eyebrows just were not going to take it anymore. But it’s hard to feel sorry for the guy when he’s such a delusional human being, and, as usual, I found myself not enjoying his mental illness so much as keeping a close eye on all his veins and hoping God didn’t have any further pulmonary embolisms scheduled for today.
The challenge and dinner service were basically all one massive contrived entity tonight: plan and execute a sweet sixteen party for a central casting spoiled girl and her central casting dragon lady of a mother, whose face-lift unquestionably cost more than my car. To begin, the cheflings met Ramsay at the Grove, here in L.A., whose farmers’ market has been shockingly absent from the current season of American Idol. They were given $100 and 25 minutes to put together one appetizer and two entrees for the menu. While the girls focused on ”glamour,” the men focused on ignoring Matt, whose vomit-inducing suggestion for the afternoon was ”sushi pizza on a tortilla.” Really? Really. The producers didn’t feed you that idea, Matt? Seriously? You thought of ”sushi pizza on a tortilla” yourself? Really. Really. I suppose it’s possible, but I mean…sushi pizza on a tortilla. Just ponder that for a second. Then go rinse your mouth out, and come back. I’ll wait.
We all okay? Feeling refreshed? Good, because you’ll need that hint of mint to survive Matt’s next contribution to this episode: Out of all the contestants, he alone has recently attended a 16-year-old girl’s birthday party. I want no part of any conjecture related to that statement, I just want it entered in the log, and then I would like to move on.
NEXT: A feigned showmance
So Birthday Girl Melissa and her terrifying mother showed up to sample the food. For appetizers, the women presented shrimp scampi, and the men offered a stuffed chicken wing. Because Melissa had never tasted shrimp before (????), the men won. Up next: The women made a halibut with Shayna’s slow-roasted mango salsa, while the men presented a shrimp and asparagus dish. Sadly, Melissa hates asparagus, so despite her mother’s concerns about the fish, the ladies took this round. Finally, it was the women’s pomegranate flank steak vs. the men and their filet mignon. As Melissa had never seen pomegranate seeds before (????) and the mignon had a dreaded piece of shrimp on it (guess what was on special at the farmers’ market), our birthday girl seemed stuck. Terror!Mom gave Mel a gentle nudge, and she gave the guys the win. As a reward, they went go-karting. I don’t know what it says about Bobby that this was the first thing he seemed comfortable doing outside of a kitchen all season.
As the men drove in circles, the women stayed behind to decorate the dining room for Mel’s party, under the flamingly gay direction of a central casting party planner. I don’t remember if he’s the one they’ve used before on this show, but hey, if Fox can’t be bothered to make subtle choices, I can’t be bothered to discern between them. Terror!Mom popped by during this to deliver some staged dialogue about the napkins looking fugly; Shayna came up with a clever solution; this was edited to make it seem like Corey stomped off because she couldn’t deal with Shayna’s clever napkin solution. Score one for the foreshadowing team…
…and then remove that point and another 50 or 60 more from the tote board for the totally lame-ass tease about Corey and Louross’ illicit moment in the hot tub, which turned out to not exist. Come on, Fox! Is that what you really think of us? That we’re so swayed by any hint of romance/showmance that we’d accept the possibility of the tiny Louross and the Amazonian Corey getting it on? That we’d want to see Louross and Corey getting it on? Yuck, and also, yuck! Are you just starved for skin content, Fox? Is that what it is? Then I’ve got an idea: Maybe don’t cast 27 basically unattractive lunatics next season!
Whew. Look at me, all riled up, and it’s not even dinner service yet. Here is what went wrong there: Christina didn’t put any mushrooms in the risotto. Rosann undercooked Melissa’s steak. Matt overcooked Terror!Mom’s halibut. Ramsay kicked Rosann off the meat and made Mel’s filet himself; Bobby kicked Matt off the fish and fixed the halibut himself. ”Move out the way,” Bobby said to Matt. ”You’re acting like I’m doing a bad f—ing job,” Matt whined to Bobby. All together now: ”You are!” Then Matt called Bobby ”threatening” (presumably something to do with skin color), and Corey called Shayna slow (because she’s overweight), and I sort of tuned out the rest of the episode. Somewhere in here, Chef Ramsay told Matt, ”You can only hide for so long,” and I thought for a second Matt was going to cry, but I don’t like looking that closely at his eyes because they frighten me, so I can’t be sure.
NEXT: The wrong goodbye
Once all the kids filed outside for a performance by the amazingly not-fake band the Pink Spiders (you just know Mel was expecting a car), it was time to pick a loser, but with 98 percent of diners enjoying the man food and 99 percent of diners liking the ladies’, there was no loser tonight. ”Thank you, chef, for your generosity,” bleated Matt. ”F— generosity,” responded Chef Ramsay. God, I wish I could spell out that whole F-bomb there. I think Ramsay really earned that one, don’t you?
Up for elimination: Matt, Shayna, and — after Chef Ramsay asked Christina who she’d rather put up — Rosann. Matt thought he was being set up, by the way (thanks to Bobby, who chose a slightly more scatological description of Matt’s face than Sam the Eagle), and when it came time to plead his case, Matt argued that Bobby kicked him off his station and there was nothing he could do about it. ”Look at the size of you!” yelled Ramsay, in a moment that either redeemed the last half of the episode or made this the most decidedly anti-fat-person hour of television in weeks. ”You’re 250 pounds! Louross‘ balls are bigger than yours!” Hearing this, Matt broke glass in case of emergency: Taking his tiny balls in his hand, he volunteered to go to the women’s team. After eliminating Shayna, Chef Ramsay called Matt’s bluff, and sent him to estrogen exile. ”F—,” said Corey, yet again.
(Real quick, though, in case you didn’t catch that classic elimination logic: The men nominated Matt. ”Good choice,” said Ramsay, ”considering he served dry fish to the birthday girl’s mother. I can’t think of anything worse, except maybe for sending some undercooked steak to the birthday girl herself. Speaking of which, the ladies’ decision is who?” The women nominated Shayna. ”Shayna?” Chef Ramsay asked quizzically, then asked Christina who she’d nominate personally. She said Rosann. ”That. Makes. Sense,” said Ramsay, making slicing gestures with his hand. So given that Matt was a ”good choice,” that Shayna’s nomination was met with disbelief, and that Rosann, by Ramsay’s own standards, performed worse than Matt, the obvious choice for elimination is…Shayna? My God, could that make any less @#&$% sense?)
Your turn, fish sticks. Just how calculated was the decision to keep Matt around, considering he’s never once succeeded at anything except for mouth enemas? Is ”mouth enemas” the worse thing I’ve ever typed in one of these? What was more manipulative and offensive: the Corey-Louross non-event or making us think Julia was coming back this week when in fact they were just competitively emasculating Matt? Do we want any of these people to win at this point? How did this show piss me off so much so fast? And what, exactly, could they do to save it now?