27 July 2006

[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, Epi Seven

They've been through the wringer and, at last, we're down to four chef wanna-be's.

On the down side, Sara is still on board. But I get ahead of meself.

An Aside About The Opening

I am absolutely addicted to the opening. I swear, this must have been done by Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer. I especially like the way an image of The Ramdog emerges from the flame of the gas cooker with his signature glowing behind him in neon-blue, then turns into a kind of flame sprite zooming around the kitchen as we see images of the contestants.

Sometimes, so help me, we play it over. I lurve special effects.

Anyway, on to the show.

We Two Are One

Heather, playing the role of Captain Obvious this time around, karnaks that the two teams will be melded into one. I don't see why; with the distraction of Maribel gone, doesn't that mean that the two remaining Reds, Virginia and Sara (hisss!), will consume each other whole? We certainly hoped so.

But it was not to be. The morning after, Chef combined the two teams. Gone were the Red and Blue jackets to be replaced by the black jacket. Yes, one jacket to rule them all, one jacket to find them, one jacket to bring them all and in the kitchen bind them (rim shot). This generated interesting and bizarre reactions from some participants; Virginia enthusing about how they were all soldiers now, and Garrett latching on to the team fusion with all the desparation of someone who knows they are on the bubble.

Another Creative Challenge

The challenge of the day involved choosing from amongst ten proffered ingredients to create something memorable. The ten ingredients are: baby spinach, fresh Prawns, loin of Veal, lentils, saffron, truffles, Jerusalem artichokes (which aren't from Jerusalem and aren't artichokes), turnips, mushrooms and white beets.

These are collectively known, from where I come from, as say what? Always said I was a gourmand...I feel so inferior sometimes. Let me tell you, you know the joke about the town where Spam was found in the gourmet section at the store? That was invented when someone passed through Silverton, Oregon.

Anyway! In general, the chefs all commended themselves rather well, considering. The pressure conditions seem really to be honing the skills of the remainder. Chef Ramsay was pleased with all the dishes in general, though you could tell the ones that didn't quite make the standard–Chef complimented the dish and then said "however"...

The standouts were Virginia's dish (something called Chiffinade of Spinach and Beet Tops and Poached Prawns garnished with truffles) and Keith's (Veal Chops stuffed with wild mushrooms and spinach over a prawn salad). Chef called Virginia's dish "vibrant" and Keith's had "great color".

Now, I'm not all that impressed with Keith's style, but I'd eat his food. He seems to understand haute cuisine that my own lumpenself can get on board. 'Cause, hey, veal chops, eh?

It was a tough choice for Chef, but he decided on Keith's dish. For once, one of the men won the challenge. It was kind of neat, at that.

The prize was a day in Vegas and a tour of the (then-)still-under-construction space in the Red Rocks resort, where the prize restaurant–T-Bone's Steak and Chophouse–was going to be installed. Though I personally don't get the point of showing people an undone space (the words "undone foccacia" come to mind), Kevvy and Virginia seemed to make the best of it, and then were off to enjoy Vegas.

Kevin put his inimitable (not that it ought to be repeated) big K-Grease slammin' money style on display, in dress and in conduct, which hit its nadir when, across the street from New York New York, pointed out the miniature Tour Eiffel and wondered if Jean-Phillipe was over there, 'cos it was Pareeee!

"He's Belgian, stupid", said Virginia in the most intelligent thing she's said all series.

But Wait...There's Drama!

To say that Keith has an unimpressive style is one thing. I wouldn't trust my backstairs intrigues to him if he were the only schemer left on the planet. He just couldn't quit backstabbing Garrett.

Before the challenge, Keith assured Garrett that they were brothers in arms, thick and thin, and all that. Once he won the challenge and could take one other contestant along, after all but promising Garrett that he was in like Flynn, took...Virginia. Said she ought to go since she had essentially come in second in the challenge.

Garrett stewed and seemed to go quietly mad, just a little. You know those wierdo types who play with knives and talk to themselves about what they were going to do to you, but out loud so everyone could hear? Garrett got just like that. His anger pretty much scared everyone and freaked out Heather.

Earlier that morning, while getting ready for the day, Heather also sat down next to Keith, let him put his arm around her, and joked "This here's my baby's daddy!". Get. A. Room.

But What Was the Penalty?

The three losers of the challenge had to make the kitchen ready for fumigation–taking sheet plastic and wrapping everything, and we mean everything. But once they got done with that, were they done?

No, they were the fumigators, too. On went the bunny suits and out came the canisters. And Sara actually said a couple of things that were funny–doing the Darth Vader when the masks went on, and noting that she usually had four eyes, and now she had six.

More Props for Keith

Keith's star is rising, that much is certain. During preps work for the night's dinner service, Jean-Philippe let Kevin know that his veal dish was going on the menu and how should it be described?

Did he call it Slammin' Money Cha-ching Veal, Baby? No. He stepped up to the abyss and turned away. Had it called just what it was. Good on ya, boy...there's hope for you.

But Are They Being Served?

The evening's dinner service didn't go off without a hitch, but they are getting better. They still aren't working as a team though, and it was obvious, especially when Sara and Heather were working to make appetizers.

Sara made a particular fool of herself, cooking with her head up her backside, which would be impossible for you or me, but since she does it all the time she's fairly accomplished at it. First she's cooking too many scallops, then has a discussion with Chef over how big they are, then not cooking them in a non-stick pan, which led to an exasperated Chef screaming the most memorable line of the night:

Sara, if you sauté scallops in a nonstick pan, they won't stick. That's why they call it F***ING NON-STIIIIIICK!! I don't know what nonstick means in Texas, sweetheart, but F*** ME!!!
The way his voice nearly cracked when he said NON-STIIIICK! was priceless.

And, on a show that's addicted to the phrase "and for the first time", for the first time on HK, they were going to be serving a 12-top. The superlatives get a bit silly sometimes, yes?, but the point here is that the crew has to make sure everyone gets thier stuff together, and with Sara and Heather doing the appetizers, that was no small feat. But despite Sara's thickheadedness, it happened.

Things just looked bad and worse for poor Garrett. He rushed some chicken to the pass...so rushed, in fact, that it was raw. Bad, bad, bad Garrett. Chef patiently explained (well, as patiently as he could) that that could be the surest way to kill a customer. This caused a station shuffle, and Keith was on the meats. Keith has probably forgotten more than Garrett has ever learned about meats, so it was back on an even keel after that.

And Now, The Endowment

Much is made of the patrons of HK, who are, it is buzzed, out of work actors who are getting thier food for free. And in the beginning of the show a man whined about the lack of pumpkin in his risotto and was handled in Big Ramdog Style.

This night a woman who was...well, endowed...decided she'd had enough waiting, and the three of her (her and her chest) were nobody to be trifiled with. Proceeding to the pass and setting her endowment on it for all to see, she demanded to know how much longer she was to wait. When it was clear the Chef wasn't going to give the three of them the respect they deserved, she pitched a waiting plate of food back into the kitchen, which caused Chef to call security.

I know...WTF is it when these HK patrons, anyway?

Bachelorette number one...

The occupants of the twelve-top showed up just at that time, fashionably late but that's okay...it was a bachelorette party. And a show that seemed happy to make trouble where there wasn't any seemed strangely loathe to milk the dramatic potential of the trouble a bunch of LA bachelorettes could have made.

But they did make Jean-Philippe look foolish. Chatting the ladies up, he was in full flirt mode for quite some time when Chef called him over to the pass and asked him if he was trying to lose his virginity.

Enough of that! We have a fake restaurant to run here!

The Last Passion of Garrett

The dinner service was completed successfully, and everyone (except Keith) had something to answer for; Sara's ineptitude, Heather's inconsistency, Garrett's attempt to serve raw chicken, Virginia's inattention. Keith was to select two noms for elim.

Everyone lobbied, of course. Keith promised Garrett that he wasn't going (giving hope to those of us who hate Sara (which is pretty much anyone with a soul)). Back in the dining room, Keith was asked for his two. They were...Virginia (again-she's up on the block every time)...and...


Put the knife in, Keith, and twist it this time, willya?

Each stated thier case. Garrett was particularly emotive, leading Chef to remark, "You're hungry for this, aren't you". He seemed to be winning Chef over.

After listening to Virginia's bit, Chef then proceeded to yank the audience around....


Yay! Garrett! You made it!

"...is staying."

Gubba 'scuse me? Guess you must absolutely not ever, ever, ever, serve uncooked chicken (actually, you shouldn't; the salmonella that you might ingest could very well kill you). This is something every single person who's ever held a food handler's card should instinctively know. And this prevents me from believing my own consipiracy theory; Garrett did give him something to hang himself on.

Our Predictions

Garrett, we must say in retrospect, was due. He had the drive but he was overwhelmed and in the end, he did something that not even fast food cooks would do, and it cost him. We think this pretty much followed our predictions so far although, in the end, we were rooting for Garrett to hang on a little more.

We're down to four:
  1. Keith: He's still the Golden Child. Right now, about the only way he could piss Ramsay off is to kill him. We still wish he'd ditch that dumass Big K-Grease Style, because, lets face it, it's stupid, but he's got the culinary brain to ascend to actual Chefdom. Some commentators aren't too impressed with his skills, but when you have Gordon Ramsay actively encouraging you, you've got to have it where it counts.
  2. Heather: She's still our pick to be the other in the final two. Her problem is consistency. In the early part of the show, she was never not in the zone. These days, the least little bump and she's right off her game. But she wants it more, and she's got the smarts.
  3. Sara and Virignia: Which one of these get the axe next epi depends on who wants it more. My money's on Virginia because she's demonstrated improvment, when she's on she's on, and her strategy seems to be to try harder. Sara's strategy seems to be just to endure everyone out, which should have elimmed her already–fortunately, someone else is always worse than her, or makes a bigger mistake.
Next week will be Sara or Virginia's turn to go. It depends on who's the bigger bozo.

Until next week then, diners.

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