17 August 2006

[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, 2006–The Times' Index

During the months of June to August, 2006, FOX television served the SunDial Earth Station with a nearly fatal distraction: Hell's Kitchen. Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, the three-Michelin-starred Scottish superchef known for his exacting standards, his business acumen, and his hot temper, put twelve aspiring chefs, with skill-levels ranging from six months of culinary school to garde manger and sous chef, through the proverbial wringer. The prize: a highly lucrative and powerful position as excutive chef at T-Bones' Steak and Chophouse, called a "million-dollar" restaurant, in the billion-dollar Red Rock casino complex then being built in Las Vegas, a hand in designing the eatery, and a share of the profits.

During that time we were distracted and entertained by this crackling good program, we blogged about our feelings of the show, mixing interpretation and somewhat-inaccurate recap. This reference post provides links to all the articles written.

The twelve hopefuls were divided, as customary, into red and blue teams, segregated in the beginning by gender:

The Red Team (women):
  1. Sara, a deli manager;
  2. Maribel, a cafeteria worker;
  3. Virginia, a garde manger (salad and cold-foods chef);
  4. Heather, a sous-chef;
  5. Polly, a professional caterer.
  6. Rachel, a personal chef.
The Blue team (men):
  1. Gabe, a marketing executive with six months' culinary school;
  2. Tom, also a former stockbroker;
  3. Giacomo, a pizza chef;
  4. Larry, a fishmonger;
  5. Keith, a chef/bartender
  6. Garrett, a former prisoner and prison cook.
The Chef's Progress

The majority of the shows followed a pattern: Reward/Punishment challenge, spotlight on the challenge winners (and their treat), spotlight on the challenge losers (and thier punishment), preparation for a dinner service, the dinner service itself, then the elimination ceremony, where one of the chefs was selected to go home. Notable differences were in the first epi, where the chefs, after an extremely-brief period of settling in, were commanded to make a signature dish in 30 minutes, and the finalé, where the the two finalists got a good prize regardless of who won or lost.

The series aired in two-hour blocks on Monday evenings, on KPTV-12, with the first hour being a rerun of last week's episode and the new episode being shown second. The exceptions to this were the premiere (two new epis) and the finale (which was one two-hour epi, not rebroadcasting the penultimate epi).

The Episodes
  1. Hell's Kitchen, Three Epis Along. Me catching the bug and playing catchup. Eliminated: Polly, Larry, Gabe, Giacomo (in that order). Blogged: 20 Jun 2006.
  2. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Four. Eliminated: Tom. Blogged: 27 Jun 2006.
  3. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Five. Eliminated: Rachel. Blogged: 12 Jul 2006.
  4. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Six. Elminated: Maribel. Blogged: 19 Jul 2006.
  5. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Seven. Eliminated: Garrett. Blogged: 27 July 2006.
  6. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Eight. Eliminated: Sara. Blogged: 04 Aug 2006.
  7. Hell's Kitchen, Epi Nine. Elminated: Keith. Blogged: 10 Aug 2006.
  8. Hells Kitchen, The Finalé. Finalists: Virginia and Heather. Winner: Heather West. Blogged: 16 Aug 2006.
The Others

During the course of the series we did opine on a few other things that were Ramsay-related but not necessarily series-related. Here they are.
  1. Last Damned Post on Hell's Kitchen This Week: Seems there really wasn't a Gordon Ramsay dog after all! Blogged: 28 Jun 2006.
  2. Hell's Kitchen, This Week: HK preempted that week by some Adam Sandler waste-of-time. We were not amused. Blogged: 3 Jul 2006.
  3. Gordon Ramsay, Straight Up. Intrigued by the character of Chef Ramsay, we go googling. We find out about Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and we find out that Chef recently won a British-style (loser pays the court costs) libel case. Blogged: 03 July 2006.
  4. What I Think Will Happen On Hell's Kitchen This Week. Written just before Epi Six, in which we get a little giddy waiting to see it and try writing standup. Word from our agent: Keep the day job. Blogged: 18 July 2006.
And that's it; that's all. We can finally let go of the obsession and get back to design. But we will follow Gordon Ramsay and Heather West, that's for sure.


Interesting things can happen to the contestants in the wake of HK2006. They'll be listed below as I find them. Scroll to the bottom for the newest stuff, and, if there's anything anyone sees that they think would belong here, hey, cha-ching me on the email, baby (or something like that...).
  • 19 August 2006: Want to know what's on Heather West's mind now? Meevee.com has an exclusive interview here. Though brief, it contains surprising revelations about Heather's relationships with Garrett, Virginia...and, of course, Rachel. She's going to be a class act, we think. Earlier: MeeVee interviews Keith, Sara, Garrett, Maribel, Rachel, Tom, Giacomo, and thier original review (which had them calling Garrett "Dave" for some reason. At least I got Keith's first initial right when I called him "Kevin" a couple of times. But Dave? Open the pod bay doors, HAL...").
  • 20 August 2006: In case you missed it, Keith Greene's site, Kgrease.com, is live (and we understand has been for a little while now). It's 100% flash-based, but, mercifully, the flash file is about 550KB, so if you're on 56K dialup, you'll be able to see it while you're still young. Right now there's links to his Bio, Links, Email Contact, and his four sauces: Mojo Marinade (for chicken or fish), Money Marinade (for steak and chops), "It's Slammin'" mango BBQ sauce, and the ever-famous "Cha-Ching" Sesame Crust ("It's Lamb...and It's Money?" – Gordon Ramsay). If the website checks for the plugin and doesn't find it, it sends you off to Adobe to get the plugin (rather than giving you a choice between downloading it and connecting to a non-flash version). Also, GlitteratiGossip.com links the MeeVee interview with Heather.
  • 20 August 2006: This one deserves its own entry here: According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Heather won't be cheffing at T-Bones after all, but rather, Senior Chef at Red Rock's Italian restaurant, Terra Rossa. Read my own posting via this link.
  • 21 August 2006: FOX-TV have opened applications for auditioning in the next series of Hell's Kitchen. Eligibility is wide open: 21 or older, legal US permanent resident. They want basic personal information, then answer questions such as: do you have any experience or training? If so, where? And, of course, the all important: What makes you think that you, more than anyone else, can live up to Chef Ramsay's standard? This is the only email you may ever send that requires a gut-check. The FOX-TV application page is here. Also: Chef Ramsay is expanding is restaurant empire into the Americas (Via Slashfood, The Observer).
  • 21 August 2006, Even More: Two more interviews with Heather: This one at IGN.com, and this one from TV.com (via Google cache). Particularly interesting were the moments related in the IGN interview that didn't get on the series, such as the daily talk show, the orange bowling, and the dinner party. Also: The Wikipedia entry on HK has been updated with all information on HK2, including very clever and succinct grids showing week-by-week kitchen status at a glance for both HK1 and HK2. And From HK1: Runner-up Ralph Pagano battled Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the 6 August edition of the Food Network program. The secret ingredient: Barramundi (a/k/a Asian seabass). The winner, according to Answers.com: Bobby Flay.
  • 22 August 2006: Ever wonder what it must be like to actually eat in Hell's Kitchen? We just stumbled on this article at MSNBC.com which links through to this article by TVGasm's correspondent "B-Side", who was a diner in Ralph Pagano's "Frank and Lulu's" Italian restaurant in the HK1 season finalé (The "Plank" Season). No, they didn't have to pay for thier meal; yes, they were paid for thier attendance; yes, the valeting was for real; no, Ralph's food wasn't all that good. Also: SnogBlog tries out cooking Chef Ramsay's Beef Wellington (from the recipe at The F-Word's site). Verdict: tasted decent.
  • 23 August 2006: Winning through despite technical difficulties, SmallPouch blogger perrik posts her witty, somewhat snarky, and unexpurgated ("FOX censors. I don't") review of the Series 2 (The "Donkey" Season) finalé.
  • 24 August 2006: From BBC4's The F-Word site, intriguing interviews with Chef Ramsay. Find them all via this link, and if you don't care to click-through, find them via the "Gordon Interview" link in the navitgation on the left. May we particularly recommend this one, however, which reveals The Real Ramsay? His accents: fresh food, local ingredients, the power of the family dinner table; very much the family man. Also, tucked away at the end of that one is this interview with Gordon's wife Tana. She has her own kitchen; she isn't allowed in his. Surprised? Don't worry, it's all good: Read the interview.
  • 24 August 2006, More: Chef Ramsay says a generation of women can't cook? Before you jump to conclusions, read about his campaign to get women (who want to go) back into the kitchen. Speaking of which: Us Magazine's Eric Andersson hints (via tmsfeatures.com) that HK2 winner Chef Heather West may be working at a partial kitchen reunion:
    Q:When do you go to Vegas? A:Soon! I'm psyched. It's a big task, but I'm going to dive right in. And I've talked to [Kitchen alums] Keith and Garrett about joining the staff.
  • 24 August 2006: It's Good to Be The King... The UK's Independent notes that Chef Ramsay has finished the last year as the UK's richest chef, with earnings in USD$124M. 2nd place? Jamie Oliver (via bfeedme.com). Also via bfeedme.com: Chef Ramsay's Baked Apples with Peppercorn. And, speaking of Chef's business empire, meet Gordon Ramsay the publican; the Independent also reports that Ramsay is adding a constellation of country inns to his culinary universe.
  • 25 August 2006: Chef Ramsay's sine qua non? Before there was a famous Chef Ramsay, there was Chef Marco Pierre White, a man who came on strong and young to be the first-ever Briton to win three Michelin Stars. Did Chef White make Chef Ramsay inevitable? We suspect so: in an upcoming book to be published by Orion (via the Independent), he muses thus:
    Perhaps I created the monster Gordon Ramsay who ended up as a TV personality screaming at celebrities on Hell's Kitchen, doing to them what I had done to him
    The Wikipedia entry on Chef White references a photo in his book White Heat containing what's described as Gordon Ramsay as "a terrified commis (a commis is an assistant station chef-ed.)" whilst he was working under him. So, in this case, it's nurture, perhaps.
  • 26 August 2006: The Company They Keep: As reported by 24 Hours Toronto, quondam Posh Spice (now, of course, mere Victoria Beckham) was seen on the town at Tana Ramsay's recent 32nd birthday party, well into her cups, sans ring...meanwhile, blog Inner Toob reports that international outplacer firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas has placed Chef Ramsay on a list of the worst TV Bosses of all time–the only TV personality who actually exists that can be found there. Also: The BBC detects Gordon Ramsay doing a charity showing at Derby...just not that Gordon Ramsay.
  • 08 October 2006: It's way past time we made a cogent observation: indeed, the HK/Heather West well has pretty much run dry. As noted in this post, I'm taking down the tent and calling it happy. I very much enjoyed trying to keep track of things, and was...well, be honest, really was hoping it would take off, but alas, no. However, there will be me following the HK bandwagon next year, as well as a lot of people, I'm sure. See you then, donkeys!

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1 comment:

I'm Back! said...

The concept of hell's kitchen, in itself, is a very entertaining experence within its originality. It uses the standard tricks of TV series to get us to stay in through the breaks.if anyone want to Watch Hell's Kitchen Online then click here..