05 June 2007

[hk2007] Hell's Kitchen 2007.1: Let The Tears Begin: The First Victim

824 It's on. And the chefs couldn't hold it together if you gave 'em training wheels.

Tonights season premiere had to prove to be entertaining if nothing else. On that, it certainly delivered.

Just as in last season, the victims were delivered to the HK dining room (which, in case anyone didn't know, is apparently the same converted television studio in Los Angeles, CA, at the corner of N. La Brea Avenue and Willoughby Avenue, that was used last year), allowed to settle in for about a minute or so, show time, and were lulled into a false sense of security by the inimitable Jean-Phillipe.

Then El Ram appeared and started playing his part. Into the kitchen with you all...with noses to the grindstone for what's becoming the traditional opening: The Signature Dish..."You, on a plate."

Dismissing the various degrees of savory image we can come up with on that one, the dishes were perforce prepared and arranged for the Chef to taste. We have long been impressed with the idea of this test; we think we understand the indicative power of the skill set that obtains when you ask someone to prepare their specialty at the drop of a hat.

Now, we know you saw impressive culinary skills, masterful creations, and a range of inspiring dishes. We also know that you didn't watch our version, which takes place on the planet Earth.

El Ram was, naturally, very unimpressed with the range presented. Actually, on balance, the general level of the production seemed to be higher; no Undone Foccacia this year, to be sure, and one...a production from someone who's looking to be the early Heather (Melissa) recieved unqualified thumbs-up from Chef, which didn't happen at all last year.

The Signature Meal Offenses
  1. Vinnie: apparently wants to go mano a mano (which we know we use incorrectly, but we love the way it sounds) with Chef. That boy, as we said back where I was born, he got himself an attitude.
  2. Joanna: Provided a drink–a raspberry bellini (WhateverTF that is supposed to be). She sampled it whilst El Ram was tasting her dish. We swear we saw her have to try to choke some of it down. I can't remember what she cooked, but the fake sincerity she served as a side could be cut with a knife.
  3. Rock: frozen gnocchis. Fortunately, doctors know what causes this now. There is a cure.
  4. Bonnie: served a cheese-based something-or-other. Requires an instruction manual. Forgot to provide said manual.
  5. Eddie: great palate–but scallops are undercooked. Same for Brad.
  6. Josh: take his cooking with a grain of salt-Chef Ramsay had to. Also uses tired sexual metaphor for the food experience.
  7. Jen: dish is a-swimmin' in peach schnapps.
  8. Julia: chicken-fried-chicken penne (which sounds tasty), in which the chicken was great...but there was too much pepper.
  9. Aaron: Cowboy attire. at least he didn't cry.
The balance of the cheffing was found wanting (really must that be said), and the teams (Red for Girls and Blue for Boys) were dismissed to the dorms to get to know each other, bond, have really dirty sex and get psychologically ready for the next day.

The First Service: Oh, The Humanity

Early on it looked like they were going to have it rough. The Reds immediately began to bicker and clash; it was at the end of the show that El Ram termed them "Hell's Bitches", and that blunt sobriequet was ever so deserved. When they weren't busy snappily telling each other what they were doing wrong, they were busy treating poor Julia like crap.

She's going to have to work harder than everyone else, Julia is. She's a short-order cook; they just don't respect her much. Well, at all, really; she tried to inveigle her way into everyone else's graces and they just weren't having it; all the ladies were cliquing up against her. And it was to thier detriment; after boosting Tiffany from the appetizer's station because she apparently couldn't fry a quail's egg, they actually got some starters out.

Sure, her cooking school was the Waffle House, but she at least knows how to fry an egg.

The Blues, on the other hand, hit the teamwork vibe early on. That's not to say they weren't frightful; they were only less bad than the Reds, but it was by an order of magnitude. They were turning out spot-on risotto and getting customers served. Things began to work out better after Vinnie was sent off to wash dishes and Brad was installed there, but it was all for naught, of course, because both teams broke down when they were trying to get the main course out. The low point for the Blues came when Aaron was caught wiping his nose while he was preparing chicken (although one might argue that Aaron provided even lower low points when he mentally broke down twice during service...once, memorably, before even the service had started!).

After about four hours with no apparent main courses in evidence (and diners walking out in disgust, which is pretty uppity when you consider they're getting paid as extras), Gordon shut it down. Time to count the casualties.

The Elimination, Week One.

There were, as El Ram correctly opined, no winners; the Red team were the saddest sacks of the bunch. Gordon appointed Melissa as The Best Of The Worst, going with it the responsiblity to nominate two for sacking.

The nominees: Sarah Joanna and Tiffany. The two nominees were expected; Joanna's obnoxious, and Tiffany's too inept to fry and egg (even we can do that!). In the end, while both knew how to work hard, only one had anything approaching skillZ (m4d or otherwise), so it was Tiffany who was out. This was a classic switcheroo surprise; in the behind-the-scenes dorm cam, Tiffany was being told by Melissa that she wasn't going home so early. Well, that's Hell's Kitchen for you.

Give Tiffany credit for this; nobody wants to be the first one eliminated but she walked the Hall'o'shame with her head held high, and in the exit interview (held appropriately back of the Dumpster) she'd admitted that Chef's judgment was, at its heart, correct.

The Early Favorites:
The Early Villain:
  • Joanna (do you doubt)?
The Early Dark Horses:
Who's Most Likely To Get Sacked Next Week...
  • If the Blues Lose: Vinnie, Aaron
  • If the Reds Lose: Bonnie, Jen
Our gut guesses are based on who can hold up under pressure at this point. Aaron...that's a given. Am I the only one who watched who just wanted to slap him? I'll give Gordon this–the man really knows how to talk someone "off the ledge". Vinnie? Please. That man needs a backhand, is what he needs.

Playing The Crying Game

Can anyone else believe the sheer lack of a backbone of some of these people. Even Sara from last year had more courage than some of these people. I don't know why Aaron just didn't spontaneously explode; Bonnie is so easily intimdatable it defies description; Jen almost fainted under the apparently nigh-inconsiderable pressure of being called forward to defend her signature dish.

Well, that's the epi, those are our picks, and that's the show. See you all next week.

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