Once again summer is upon us. Temperatures are rising, the mayflies are dying in droves, mosquitoes line up to make reservations at human buffets, our skin is crisping in the sun, and it’s time for our ears to blister, once again, as Gordon Ramsay attempts to make world-class chefs out of bumbling, incompetent masochistic DAWs. It’s time for Hell’s Kitchen”.
We open with the Black Hell’s Kitchen bus cruising the streets filled with happy, excited DAWs acting like they’re off to summer camp instead of entering their own private Hell on earth.
Sara, 31 yr. old Deli Manager gets the first CT while on the bus. Bubbling as she tells us “I want it soooo bad.” I think that’s a given She will definitely get “it”. They all will. It just remains to be seen what “it” is, exactly.
They arrive at the doors of Hell’s Kitchen and we are treated to the sight of an annoyed looking Ramsay checking his watch and clicking what looks suspiciously like a stopwatch setting. Game on. Maitre D’ Jean Philippe pops open a bottle of bubbly as they enter. I hope they enjoy it. They’re gonna need it. They walk around the restaurant agreeing that Hell doesn’t look so bad, while Jean Philippe grins and rubs his hands with glee at the prospect of new minions.
Keith, who will eventually be known as “Mouthbreather”, 28, a Chef/Bartender is next in the CT chute, telling us that he wants to prove that an adolescent frat boy party animal can “hold it down and kill it in the kitchen”. I’m betting that one of the first things he’ll learn is that the bill of a baseball cap goes in the front. Cut to Ramsay, looking at Keith’s photo, CTing that he looks “slightly demented”.
Virginia, 25, a “Salad Chef” (whf?), is shown applying her make-up and telling us that her work at the restaurant involves applying lip-gloss and mascara. Her promotional shot shows that she’s telling the truth. She’s shown putting make-up on while standing in the middle of the kitchen. She thinks Ramsay is “hot”. Uh oh. Ramsay’s first reaction is decidedly lukewarm.
Jean Philippe calls them all together for a toast to Hell’s Kitchen as a purposeful Ramsay strides down the hallway to the strains of background music that would have worked in “JAWS”. Entering to cheers he introduces himself and tells them that there are 12 of them (just in case they can’t count – and he could be right), but that only one will win. And, they’ll win by “impressing me”.
Smiles fade as he screams for them to get into the kitchen and start cooking their signature dishes. (Note that he distinctly uses the word “cooking”.) One of our hapless DAWs thinks twice about taking another sip of her champagne and glasses are hastily dropped as they scramble to flee from the sight of Ramsay, face now contorted into the visage of the devil incarnate as he screams for them to MOVE.
Credits of DAWs we have yet to meet roll over the screen to the strains of Ohio Players’ “Fire” album. (Song used: “Fire”, other choices from the album include “Running from the Devil”, “Smoke”, “What the Hell”, “I Want to be Free”, and “It’s All Over”. Gee, pretty much sums up the whole season.)
Enter our calm and erstwhile narrator to tell us that the contestants have 30 minutes to prepare their signature dishes. Chaos reigns in the kitchen as 12 DAWs, unfamiliar with the layout or the availability of utensils, scramble to obey their master. It seems that everyone remembered to bring knife sets, but no one – NO ONE – seems to have thought of bringing a corkscrew.
Tom, soon to be known as “The Schvetter”, a 43 yr. old stock broker, hacks open a wine bottle with the back of his chefs knife, pouring white wine and broken glass into his skillet simmering on the stove. Yummy. Methinks that there will be more than one trip to hospital this season.
As Tom slips in the wine he’s spilled all over the floor others scream “OY, OY, OY” and exhort their food to cook by calling it names and poking at it with their fingers. Gabe, 27 yr. old Marketing Executive, tells us that everyone can see his heart beating through his neck. Interesting placement if he can keep it hidden from Ramsay.
Our DAWs line up at attention as Ramsay surveys 12 silver salvers set out for his review. First up is Keith’s “Leaning Tower of Pisa”. Keith stammers that it’s called “Cha Ching Sesame Crusted Tuna”. An incredulous Ramsay makes him repeat himself and define “cha ching”, which evidently means that it’s “slammin’ and it’s money”. Uh, yeah. Remember that incorrectly worn hat? It comes in handy as Ramsay dumps the upper story of the tower into it and hands it back. Taking a bit of the mess remaining Ramsay informs Mouthbreather that “this is you on a plate”. His sauce is piping hot – and he doesn’t mean that in a good way. Informed that he should “dip it with care” he prefers to stop eating it with care. Mouthbreather CT’s that the inside of his hat is soiled but it’s still wearable. He pops it back on his head sideways and stares at us slack jawed. We can just about see the big “L” branded on his forehead.
Next up is Rachel, 39. A personal chef wearing a shirt with a devil on the front and the word “Sinner” emblazoned across the back. She drawls that she’s proud of something unintelligible and says she “doesn’t have to be the big dog, but isn’t going to let anybody run over me.” Um… Attitude meet Ramsay. She informs Ramsay that her dish is “Butterfly Shrimp in Chocolate Sauce”. Ramsay, trying to rub away his rapidly developing headache, greets this announcement with “Shit!”. Our first swear word and it took all of 6 minutes of airtime, including commercial breaks. We are treated to two more swear words - of the “F” variety - in the next 12 seconds, after Ramsay finds red chili peppers covering the dish. He tastes it anyway and pronounces it “weird”. Although the prawns are quite nicely cooked there is far too much chocolate obliterating the dish. Rachel CT’s that she’s sure that kidney pie would taste like crap to her. Okaaaay.
Movin’ on we get to a cup of something. Ramsay lifts it as one would a dead rat and calls forth Polly, who tells him that she’s been cooking most of her life. She’s a 43 yr. old caterer who believes that Hell’s Kitchen will be nothing to her after having cooked naturally for a sick son. Where do they find these people?
It appears that the cup contains dipping oil meant to accompany undone foccacia bread. Ramsay declines to take a taste saying he’d rather eat “poodle poop” than put it in his mouth. (Which, of course, is bleeped and blurred. But, that’s what he said, nonetheless.) Polly is banished back to the line.
Our Fishmonger, Larry, is up next. He’s 38 yrs. old and he hasn’t figured out how tall he is yet. He’s serving “Potato Crab Cakes” with an Asian flair of soy and peppers. Ramsay informs him that it’s very hot and undercooked. Larry CT’s that if you piss him off you’ll get a pit bull. Keep that in mind for later.
Maribel, 31 yr. old cafeteria chef, is next in the pit. (Cafeterias have “chefs” where she’s from?) She’s serving an Argentine plantain soup which Ramsay promptly spits into the garbage can waiting by his side. He declares it garlicky, hot, and looking like “baby vomit”. Now that would be an interesting menu description designed to ring up sales. Maribel at least realizes that it was a disaster, but refuses to believe that it was too spicy. Instead, she blames Ramsay for being a wimp.
Blowing out his cheeks, Ramsay utters another expletive and declares that he feels sick. Frankly, I don’t blame him. He’s not sure if he wants to go any further and announces that he’s praying that it can’t get worse. We’re treated to a display of DAW’s in various poses of seriousness, slack jawness (Mouthbreather). Tom is literally dripping with sweat running unchecked down his face. But, Ramsay knows, as do we, that he must go on. Otherwise, we’ll never get to meet the rest of our happy little masochists.