On ''Hell's Kitchen,'' after the contestants perform poorly at the annual blindfolded taste test and botch dinner service completely, Chef Ramsay singles out his own nominees for eviction

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated June 26, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Kharen Hill
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”Hell’s Kitchen”: Taste tests

Kind of a mediocre continuation of Hell’s Kitchen tonight, my little pea risottos, as without the human Jell-O salad of Aaron or the rageaholic tendencies of Joanna, it seemed all that remained was a kitchen full of eight chefs who can’t do much of anything right. That’s okay — HK, even on its worst night, is still more entertaining than a sack full of weasels — and now that we’re getting down to the supposedly competent contestants, look for the cooking action to pick up a little. I’m not saying anyone’s ever going to learn how to properly ”rest” a Wellington (+5 for anyone who sufficiently explains what on earth that means), but I do think you’ll start to see a few more of those heartwarming, successful moments. You know, the ones when Chef Ramsay actually doesn’t have to use the expression, ”Oh, f— me senseless.”

Meanwhile, though, you’re basically looking at an episode full of deep embarrassment for everyone involved, and if you’re like me, your attention during service has turned from monitoring the scallops to the slightly mortified faces of the restaurant patrons and waitstaff on the other side of the kitchen windows. I don’t care how many of them send their food back, or how many ”giraffes” approach the pass to complain — note to woman in red dress: never, ever come up to the pass to complain, unless you enjoy zoological comparisons being made about your appearance — you know they’re having the time of their lives out there, snacking on free bread and watching plates get thrown.

And honestly, I’m surprised more plates weren’t thrown during tonight’s challenge, the annual palate test, in which almost all of the contestants proved unable to recognize the simplest flavors. Again, I’m no foodie, but I’m fairly certain I could identify carrots. Also on the list of things I think I’d recognize: pear, American cheese, egg yolk. Yet all of these products stymied our budding blindfolded chefs, with only Bonnie able to tackle a really advanced item like bok choy. Of course, it was also alleged that Bonnie was cheating, and could hear through her sensory-deprivation headphones. Me, I choose to believe our Barbie when she says, ”I love to put things in my mouth.” Ah, feminism. How elusive you remain.

Anyhoo, the girls won their fourth straight challenge and took off to eat lunch/sexually harass Chef Ramsay in the dark, while the men were left behind to prep both kitchens and dine on marginally disgusting ”delicacies” like tripe, tongue, pickled herring, and trotters — three out of the four of which I have eaten willingly in the past. (As a rule, one should never order trotters as a joke. After two or three bites, they’re just not funny anymore and you’re still hungry.) Once everyone returned, it was announced that tonight’s winning team would be determined by comment cards on the tables, and our cheflings were off, to completely butcher dinner.

Let’s see, what all went down? Well, Melissa got yelled at for not being a team player. Josh, at one point, completely stopped cooking anything. Vinnie screwed up enough Wellingtons to feed an elementary school for a week (assuming several children will be confused and frightened by the Wellingtons). Bonnie developed a question-answering disability, leading the self-proclaimed ”nanny with the good palate” to start weeping — a real shocker, given that earlier in the episode, she’d proudly instructed Jen that ”there’s no crying in the kitchen.” Perhaps she was thinking baseball. I know for sure there’s no crying in that. (Actually, Bonnie has started posing more than a passing resemblance to A League of Their Own‘s Evelyn Gardner, also a notorious crier; in related news, I’m thinking about dying my blond hair black.)

Yes, once again, the ”Hell’s Bitches” couldn’t communicate, and the ”Blue Donkeys” couldn’t generate meals. Generally, it seemed most of the food was either overcooked (chicken) or undercooked (pa-sta), too salty (garnish) or too doughy (Wellingtons). ”Your fate is in their hands, yet you still send crap!” yelled G.R. ”One more dish sent back and I’m going to f—ing SHUT-TIT DOWN!” And sure enough… he did. How we’ve gone from completing the second service to butchering this one is unclear (OMG, what if Joanna was secretly the glue?), but with over 65 percent of the patrons reporting their food was decent but generally took too long to arrive, Chef Ramsay declared no winner, and picked Rock and Jen to each nominate one team member for execution.

Thanks to an overzealous set of scenes from next week, we knew that at least one nomination was going to be overruled; not sure I saw both getting tossed back. But Rock aired his still-unclear beef with Josh, and Jen, in an effort to be ”nice” to her pal Bonnie, sent Melissa to the dogs. Neither was declared acceptable, but instead of doing what I hoped he’d do — fire everyone and spend the rest of the season alternating between showing old soccer highlights and stopping by my apartment to cook me dinner — Chef Ramsay told Bonnie and Vinnie to step forward. Clearly more impressed by Bonnie’s, uh, ”skills” than Vinnie’s reminder that he’s ”the most qualified chef here,” Gordon sent the Vin-Man and his boy-band tips to the fishhook. ”He’d peaked,” Chef Ramsay explained. Dang. I was really hoping that kid would throw a punch before he got tossed.

So, who’s left? Well, Waffle House Julia is hanging in, as is the still indistinguishable Brad. Rock knows none of these people are a threat to Rock, because Rock talks about Rock in the third person, always a sign of vast mental health. And here’s a note for you ‘shippers out there: Keep an eye on Josh and Jen. His sweet caress of her face after last week’s elimination is not to be ignored, and I do believe the HK dorms feature a hot tub. I’m just saying. Something has to start cooking around here eventually, right? Wow, was that the worst pun I’ve ever made? What do you think, my darling SpaghettiOs?

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Hell's Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay verbally abuses wannabe chefs. Bon appetit!
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