19 July 2006

[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, Epi Six

Welcome to your ongoing, two-days-off review of that cookery TV FAUX phenom, Gordon Ramsay's Flying Circus.

But First, This Tedious Correction

Last week I cited the "shut it down" moment as when Garrett came up with the lllllammb sauuce!!!. That was in fact not correct; it was Rachel's completely brain-dead attempt to pass off a well-done Wellington as rare, though Garrett's event did give Chef the chance to bestow the never-before-given "Yankee Dankee [blank]ing Doo" award. This was no doubt what tipped the scales on sending Rachel home, despite Sara's obvious need to be sentenced to a year in a supporting role on Yes, Dear, restitution, and community service.

Naturally, regardless of the dinner service, the result was the usual dog's breakfast.

The Times, of course,regrets the error.

And Now, The Continuation, As Opposed To The End, Of Hell's Kitchen

The teams retire to the dorms; Red in serious disarray, Blue starting to evidence the tangible signs of an actual esprit de corps; the emergence of an "us against them" dynamic. And, of course, Heather is somewhat bereft over the loss of Rachel, and Maribel shows resentment over being nommed for elimination. The two dudes–Keith and Garrett, naturlich–are bonding with Heather (in the good way, people, come on now, none of that).

A little decompressing from the day, a few Heinekens with the labels taped over, and it's off to bed for more than a little needed sleep. But it will be an early and challenging morning for the intrepid crews...

An Inspriational Challenge

The teams are woken with bullhorns and kitchen pans by the sous-chefs about four or five hours after turning in. They are promptly bundled into two waiting black SUVs and whisked off to LA's Grand Central Market (which looks like a Whole Foods with a severe gland problem), and given a mere twenty minutes in which to let the muse move them about the aisles to procure the ingredients for a single complete three course meal.

The idea here seemed based on the general topic of inspiration, but we saw other survival skills as well; thinking fast and reasoning on one's feet. The Blue's Heather showed some indecision on the choice of fruit to use for the dessert (which turned out to be her remit), so she bought both the ones she was considering.

Virginia, on the other hand, seems changed by the events of the recent past, having gone from having, at best a wishy-washy presence in the Red team, suddenly surge to the fore with unexpected intensity. She suddenly developed gumption, leading the Red team around the market whether they wanted to be led or not. I know not what Sara was thinking all this time, but she must have been about as stunned as I was by Virginia's drive.

Then, after twenty minutes of running it, was back to the kitchen to cook under a 60-minute time limit, to create the meals they were formulating on the go in the market. First course was a soup; for the Red a roasted pepper soup by Sara, the Blues, a bisque with shrimp in by Garrett; main course was the meat; Reds, a stuffed chicken breast by Virginia, a steak dish by Kevin; and dessert was, for Red, a nouvelle-y looking strawberry shortcake by Maribel and a fruit-filled crepe by Heather.

The verdict? Soup, faults with each; the roasted pepper soup tasted burnt (which must of brie'd off Sara no end in as much as Virginia told her to roast the peppers to the point of charring) and the bisque, while tasting good, had a full shrimp tail with sharp scales on. Main; both were reviewed very well–Virginia's chicken breast (wait for it, people) was well prepared and unexpectedly generous given only one breast was used, and while the steak's presentation was a little lacking this was more than made up for by the perfect cooking of the cut.

After sampling the first and second courses, then, the perception was that the teams were approximately equal. The decider would be dessert. Again, each had its flaw; the fruit in Heather's crepes were soggy, and the fruit in Maribel's shortcake was sparse, to say the least. But, another point of the excercise was to drive home the point that the most memorable cuisine is produced with the freshest ingredients, and recall that barely an hour and a half earlier these meals existed as separate ingredients in the market. The crepes were soggy, and the shortcake, while uninspired, was apparently delighfully tasty...

...tasty enough, apparently, that the Red team won the challenge, again. This, without going to the numbers, makes only one of all these challenges having been won by the Blues–and that one was lacklustre compared to the classy prizes won by the Reds.

The Blues charge favoritism. We're not necessarily prone to agree–quite. But we are left left to wonder, with that eternal internets-enabled query, WTF?

Virginia, Up on the Rack

The challenge wasn't so intense that we couldn't be entertained by the numerous references to Virginia's most obvious endowments–at least, it sure seemed that they were trying to make a "meal" (sorry) out of it. Being the most buxom of the female contestants, buzz about her figure has been one of the ongoing themes of the fora buzz we've seen–think the endless ST:TNG chatter about whether Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) wore a bra and you'd of just about got it.

There were many remarks about Virginia's dish–about how her breast was large, about how she'd got a lot out just one of her breasts, that her breast was the biggest one they could find. Meanwhile, the comparatively-willowy Maribel had no comment, and Sara was, of course, a boob anyway.

And then, Virginia took her shirt off.

No, not really. But that might get the attention of some of the regulars over at TVgasm, and they've not posted a recap yet.

The Blue Meanies

The prize for winning the challenge was for the Red team to spend a serious night on the town with The Ramdog. The penalty for the Blues was to hang around the restaurant all day, waiting for the delivery bell to ring, perforce to drop whatever it was they were doing and run to the loading dock.

This happened several times that day, with the members of the Red team rubbing it in the faces of the Blues by sunbathing and lolling about whilst the Blues had to remain in restaurant kit and jump up whenever that bell rang. They weren't small deliveries, either; truckloads of food, produce, and a brobdingangian amount of wine all had to be offloaded and stored.

Anon the time for the Reds to depart on thier Big Night Out arrived; the girls gussied up real pretty (the short brown number that Virginia wore was actually quite fetching) and off they went, passing a stewing Blue team in the midst of unloading a truck. Garrett, with his typical flare, let them know they were number one with him by holding up a certain finger as they departed in the limo–which was noticed by all, including Chef. FUD was experienced by the Blues when it suddenly occurred to someone that, yah, Chef probably saw that, and it probably didn't go over too well, yes?

Night Out/Night In

The night out with Chef went swimmingly for the girls of Red, who were pretty much eating up Chef to an embarrassing degree. The most embarrassing was Virginia (no, strangely, not Sara) who proved to be The Mouth That Would Not Stop. At the place where they had dinner she asked the proprietor (who dined with them) what he's learnt since opening the eatery, but approached it like a jet pilot on a particularly difficult approach; the leadup to this simple question nearly crushed the life out of the question itself.

Virginia may or may not win the restaurant; she certainly has a love affair with her own voice that transcends time and space.

The night in for the Blues was predictably dreary but they continued to bond as a unit. Heather is no longer "one of the girls"; by now if you cut her, she'd bleed blue. She held her own with the boys in unloading the seemingly unending stream of deliveries, being dubbed "one tough bitch" by Garrett. She accepted it as the rough-and-ready compliment it was intended to be. The trash talk about the Red team was unending; by the end of the night they resolved that the three currently on the Blue team would be the last three surviviors going into the end.

The DIY Menu

The challenge for next night's dinner service seemed derived from the challenge from the day before; each team was to divise a menu for that night's dinner service. The diners that evening would have a choice of Red or Blue menus to choose from.

The interpersonal dynamics of the two teams in conference told a lot about who's currently strong and who's currently weak. On the Red side, Maribel faded between the stronger personalities of Sara and Virginia; the Blues froze out Garrett in almost similar fashion.

The true leaders are emerging now. Remember that the prize is an executive chef position at a very upscale Vegas hotspot; the executive chef is a department head, as likely to be hiring, firing, promoting, and designing the menu as he is to be in the kitchen cooking. Like them or hate them, we're down to the most driven, leadership-oriented professionals we're likely to see this series.

Each team played to what they thought were thier strengths–the Reds came up with a complicated rack-of-lamb entree and a complex sea-food item that we can't even begin to remember well enough to discribe supported by a seared-tuna sashimi appetizer. So bewildering was the Red menu that while I remember something having to do with . The Blues offered up what was termed by the narrator a menu based on "simple, classic" things, though Garrett, disheartened by the inferior status imposed on him by the interpersonal dynamic in the conference, had no contribution to make.

The Blue route turned out to be the smart way to go. The Red's menu was over-ambitious, perhaps insipred by the success of the challenge of the day before. The Blues hit thier stride early, firing appetizers over the pass like the Blues were set of semi-auto.

Does everything go swimmingly? Might we remind you this is Hell's Kitchen, a/k/a Westworld?

Though the Blue side really clicked, there were several misfires. Garrett couldn't get his duck cooked, causing Chef to actually come over to his station and show him how. Garrett allowed as, if Chef was hanging out at your station, that probably wasn't the ideal thing to have happen.
Heather assumed the meat station, and began turning out letter-perfect steaks...but she was still stung by the chewout she got back an epi or so ago when she tried to prepare spaghetti ahead; when Ramsay wanted to know who cooked the steaks, she hesitated, sure she was going to be laid into.

The frustration visible on Chef's face when he had to work overtime just to deliver a compliment was priceless.

The Red kitchen was a disaster area. The "simple" sashimi appetizer Viriginia was trying to produce–she could scarcely slice the fish, citing it as "wiggly". The lam that Sara claimed to be an expert in? The only thing she was an expert in is messing it up. She even lipped off of Chef about it and got the round chewing she so richly deserved.

How bad did it get? Here's how bad: by the time the desserts had gone out on the Blue side, the Red side still hadn't sent out one entree...and the Blue team had to go over to the red side to help them. This was after Chef took lamb off the menu because of Sara's appalling performance.

Did I say that they finally complete a service?

Yes. They finally completed a service.

The Leaving

There was no best of the worst–the entire Red team was sent to nominate one of thier own. But when the ceremony happened, Chef called all three Reds up–each one of the ladies were liable to go home.

We all rooted for Sara.

Alas, it was not to be. No matter how much of a creep Sara is, Chef was looking to keep the leader-sort, and Sara could be one. Maribel, being the third-wheel of the Red team, was the most obvious choice, no matter how much Sara deserved to get kicked to the curb.

Well, at least the homesickness is going to be cured.

Remarkable Moment of the Epi

In the middle of the dinner service, with the Blues smoking the Reds, what should happen but...a delivery?!?!

I'm no restauranteur, but the few foodies I've talked to say this is vanishingly unlikely to happen. Credit the producers for this little one. Maybe they thought Red needed a chance to catch up. Not, of course, in the end, that it did any good.

Pity Poor Jean-Phillippe

That guy took so much grief from the customers I swear he was about to cry over it. In as much as tables ordered from two menus, some tables' occupants began to tuck in before thier tablemates, the tension was unique. Pity they didn't subtitle his words. I'm sure they were interesting, but I couldn't understand them.

Again, We Predict

The judgment we made about Keith and Heather, that they will be the final two, we'll be happy to stand by. We will, however move Virginia up, as she's showed unexpected gumption.

Next week, as the teams will be merged, the dynamic will be such that the weak players from each team–Sara and Garrett–will be much at risk. Sara is more ambitious at this point, so I'm betting that on next week's show, unless Virginia flames out or Sara finally screws someone over so that it can't be ignored, Garrett will be the next to go. He's fading.

On Next Week's Epi

We're sure something's bound to happen, but can you really trust the teasers anymore?

Technorati Tags: ,

No comments: