Hell's Kitchen recap: Critical Mess
Jen jumps from the Red to the Blue Team, which then loses the first challenge, but when two food writers show up at dinner, the Reds suddenly can't cook
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”He can call me a f—ing donkey all day, fat pig, he can talk about my penis being small, me s—ting my pants, but I’ll never give up.” Thus spoke Sam the Eagle at the end of tonight’s Hell’s Kitchen continuation, apple fritters, and the longer I watch this season, the more I am convinced that the dude knows of what he speaks. The week, after early favorite Ben the Rageaholic Electrician got the hook, Matt is still with us, even if part of his hand is not. Oh, BTW: He was the one who chopped a finger off this evening, though to be fair it looked more like just the very tippy-tip of his thumb (not a half inch, as Corey suggested), and the wayward flesh didn’t come anywhere near the mouth of a critic (as the commercials wanted us to believe).
But before all the carnage, there was war to be fought, namely the one between Corey and Jen. Corey, always strategic, decided to manipulate Jen into switching to the Blue Team, and I wonder: If Jen knew it was manipulation and announced she gave Corey’s opinion no more weight than a feather but still switched to the Blue Team, doesn’t that make it the best manipulation ever? We shall see. What I do know is that her rationalization for switching didn’t instill me with a vast sense of confidence: ”The Red Team is safe,” she said. ”I’m not a safe chef.” Here’s hoping she gets the chance to put that slogan on an awning someday.
Tonight’s challenge: Cook four dishes using 20 ingredients. Every ingredient must be used; no ingredient can be used more than once. The Red Team took off running (that speed may have been somewhat to blame for Matt’s inadvertently adding a 21st ingredient to the challenge, in the form of his flesh), while the Blue Team stalled and cooked silently, a lack of communication that would lead to their doom. Seems no one had thought to incorporate veal (happens to me all the time), and although the reasonable (if not delicious) place to put it was on Louross’s red snapper (most awkward surf ‘n’ turf possible?), Louross summoned up every inch of his chefling integrity and refused. He also wouldn’t lie to cover his team’s ass. Steam began to slowly filter from Jen’s ears. Uh-oh.
Christina and Petrozza tied in the hollandaise snapper vs. crab salad standoff; Jen’s pancetta wrap beat out Nine Finger Man’s ”weird” quail (Matt? Making weird dishes? Crazy talk!); Corey’s plain chicken still triumphed over Bobby’s overwhelming poultry glaze. And so, with the teams tied at two all, it came down to Rosann’s clumsy veal versus Louross’s complete lack of veal. ”Where’s the veal?” steamed Ramsay, and somewhere, Clara Peller clutched a tiny cow and wept. This is where I stamp the word ”FAIL” on a picture of the Blue Team, and Jen’s head explodes.
The triumphant Red Team was whisked off to the annual photo shoot (where they all cleaned up real nice, Rosann achieving almost Stepfanie Kramer-esque levels of sassy-’80s-broad-ness), while the Blue Team had to stay behind and do laundry — by hand. This turned out to be one of the more amusing punishments in a while, largely thanks to J.-P.’s decision to taunt Jen with a live crab. ”Are you gonna be bitchy the whole day?” he said, but Jen wasn’t having any. ”My dish was flawless as usual,” she snapped. ”I don’t give a f—.” Then she called Louross a punk ass and wandered around muttering profanities. Louross declared himself not scared, but I dunno, he kinda looked it. Did I mention he cried earlier?
NEXT: The Reds blew it
Service time rolled around, and the Red Team was happily smelling the love in the absence of Jen; meanwhile, the Blues were bickering. In a rare moment of Trumpitude, Chef Ramsay dropped the bomb that Merrill Schindler and Sophie Gayot, two of ”America’s finest” food critics, were in the house tonight. Not being a foodie, I’m just gonna let him have that one, although I have my suspicions otherwise. The critics decided to order the same items off each team’s menu, and it was on. First out were the Red apps, with Christina and Corey succeeding. Then Louross matched their skill with his scallops, and it was pretty much over.
Yeah, the critics turned out to be relatively irrelevant once the Red kitchen turned out to be unable to cook any further food. Matt experienced (tenderloin) shrinkage, Christina burned the salmon. She tried to explain that she was in the weeds, but Chef wasn’t having it: ”Shut up,” he said. ”I really mean that, from the bottom of my heart.” He was on quite the tear tonight: Petrozza cut the meat too early, and Ramsay responded with ”Petrozza, you deserve to lose.” Once Christina finally got decent salmon to the window, Ramsay barked, ”Good. Finally, you f—ing lazy cow.” Rosann ran out of gnocchi and carrot puree, and tried to apologize. ”I’m sorry you’re here,” said Ramsay, then started banging his head against the window. When Matt brought up two pieces of beef that were a color more suited to food leaving the body than entering it, Cheffy’d had enough. After asking the whole team if they thought the beef was palatable, he chucked it across the stove. ”You won’t serve it, but you’ll give it to me?” he yelled. ”Get out!”
Needless to say, it made Jen very, very happy that the Blue Team had to swoop in and finish the Red side’s service. Let’s go with ”ecstatic.” Jen was ecstatic. ”That’s what you get, bitches!” she cackled like the crazy person she just might be. (If you’ll unearth your ”Reality-Show Contestants and Race: Stereotypes on Parade” checklists, I think there may be an appropriate box for this.) Obviously, the Red Team had lost without her presence and skill, though it couldn’t have made her all that thrilled to see Corey declared the best of the worst. Do I smell a head-to-head battle? My goodness, that would be like Archuleta vs. Cook all over again! America, can you handle the excitement? You know what? Don’t answer that. Anyway. Corey nominated Matt and Rosann, saying she never wants to work with the (incompetent, possibly unsafe) latter again. Chef agreed with the choice, then personally nominated Christina as well. Oh, it was nervous times for the culinary student, but after faking us out and putting Rosann back in line, Ramsay went ahead and made, remarkably, the right choice. ”Take your jacket off and go back to your daughter,” he said, and exiled Mom to Staten Island. Ah, well. Another dream dead.
Not a lot of burning questions tonight, fritters, with the exception of something Christina brought up: She declared that were she to bounce back from tonight and win it all, it would be the biggest Hell’s Kitchencomeback of all time. I think she’s underestimating her mediocrity, but I’m curious: What would have been the best comeback? Aaron? Dewberry? Weigh in. Also, what do the Pistons need to do in order to stop that fierce Boston offense?