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Christina Machamer defeats Louis Petrozza to win 'Hell's Kitchen'


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/09/2008 

Christina Machamer was the Hell's Kitchen fourth-season contestant with the least amount of experience, but Gordon Ramsay rewarded her on potential.

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The 25-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, MO was revealed to be Hell's Kitchen's fourth-season champ during last night's finale broadcast on Fox.

She claimed the position of executive chef at Gordon's recently opened The London West Hollywood -- a job that comes with a $250,000 salary.

"Oh my goodness.  Holy f**king s**t!  I am like so happy on 10 different levels, I can't even explain it," exclaimed Christina after her victory.   "I'm really happy.  It's almost like a fairy tale.  I guess it really does happen to people, even big goobers like me... Mostly what I'd like to say to Chef Ramsay is thank you for your faith and your trust in me."

Christina defeated Louis Petrozza, a 47-year-old catering director from Charlotte, NC, during the finale broadcast.

"It's been a tough journey.  It's been hard, it's been painful, it's been long but it's been good.  It's been good," said an emotional Petrozza.  "I've met so many beautiful people, so many beautiful people.  How priceless is that?"

Hell's Kitchen fourth-season finale began where the previous episode left off with Petrozza having to choose between Matt Sigel and Jennifer Gavin for the last spot on his team for the final dinner service. 

"Matt, he's a freaking lunatic, and Jen, she can be a bitch," opined Petrozza.

He chose the bitch, who joined Bobby Anderson and Ben Caylor on Petrozza's team.  Christina go Matt, who joined Corey Earling and Louross Edralin on her team. 

With 10 hours to go before the service commenced, Petrozza and Christina went over their menus with their teams.  Petrozza was confident thanks to his buds Bobby and Ben while Jen sulked about not being in the finals.  Matt had a problem respecting Christina as his leader, and she tried to compliment his risotto to get in his good graces.  It worked.

"You earned my respect just now," he told her.

"He bought it hook, line and sinker," she said in a confessional.  "It was great."

Petrozza then told his team nothing was prepped, and they were frustrated by his lack of organization.

"I'm a tiny bit overwhelmed," he said.

Prep work began with six hours to go before the doors opened, while construction continued in the restaurants.  Designer John Janavs then met with Christina about the color of her half of the restaurant, and she was frustrated it still wasn't done and she wasn't in control.  Petrozza's booth upholster also wasn't ready, which had him nervous. 

During prep work Jen asked Gordon for a letter of recommendation, which Christina called "classless."  Meanwhile Matt was screwing around in the kitchen and Corey complained to Christina about how he wasn't taking it seriously.  Corey and Matt bickered as Jen copped an attitude with Ben after he called her "sweetheart.  Jen pouted and told Petrozza he couldn't trust her.

"She's doing the same dance we all know her for," said Petrozza.  "If Jen smarts off, I'll throw her out in a second."

With an hour to go, Gordon was ready to review Christina and Petrozza's dishes.  Each finalist prepared three appetizers, three entrees and three desserts. 

Christina's appetizers featured a trio of beef sliders, her entrees included a New York strip steak with succotash, while her deserts featured a tropical sundae.  Gordon thought the appetizers were "very delicious" but wondered where the variety was and suggested she "sex them up."  He complimented the dessert and implored some innovation.

"It was my strategy to be reasonably simple.  I don't like things that are overcomplicated," she said.

Petrozza's appetizers included a lobster strudel, his entrees featured a filet mignon with risotto and onion ring, while his desserts included a vanilla souffle.  Gordon thought the texture of the appetizer was "overcooked and terrible," complimented his beef but wasn't a big fan of the risotto, and called the dessert brave before liking the way it was made.

Gordon thought they had "two completely different menus" -- with Petrozza going for "highly imaginative food," which was dangerous; while Christina "played it safe," like a "plain Jane."  Petrozza's booth upholstery arrived with a half hour to go and the paint was done on Christina's half.  Gordon liked the mood Christina created with her design and also enjoyed the comfort of Petrozza's.

Hell's Kitchen's final tenth-season dinner service then commenced with Christina concerned about Matt being "unpredictable" and Bobby worried about Jen's bad attitude disturbing Petrozza's team.  Each kitchen would serve 13 tables and 50 diners.  Customer reviews and Gordon's observations would determine the winner.

Orders came into both kitchens with Petrozza and Christina communicating well with their teams, and Gordon was excited to see if they could keep up the momentum. 

Christina's appetizers were enjoyed by the customers while Bobby had problems executing Petrozza's difficult strudel.  Petrozza criticized it for being cold and asked Bobby to redo it.  Gordon was impressed with the way Petrozza handled the situation and Bobby corrected the mistake, with the patrons enjoying the dish.

Christina continued to push her team to the limit and she got antsy, wanting to jump in and personally help Louross instead of controlling the pass.  She sent Matt to help Louross, which wasn't exactly the biggest help.

"Working with Matt, it was like really frustrating," said Christina as Matt asked tons of questions about the salad he was making.  "I have no idea how we're going to get through service."

Petrozza's appetizers were out to half his customers before his kitchen ran out of the cheese for his salad.  Jen blamed Petrozza in a confessional for the station not being properly prepped before Bobby dropped the bomb that they were also out of strudel.

"What can we do?  We can't take two of the appetizers off," said Gordon.  "I swear I'll stop it."

Petrozza was angry and didn't know what to do, so he asked Bobby who compromised with a lobster risotto.  The quick thinking led to food once again going out of the kitchen, and the appetizer worked as the patron's liked it.  Some of Christina's entrees then returned to the pass when they weren't warm enough, which further delayed the kitchen.

"Come on, now we're backed up now!" said Gordon, asking Christina to turn up the volume a bit with her communication.

She did so and Gordon thought it made her team "on top of their game."  The effort was reflected in Christina's satisfied patrons. Petrozza was plating the food too slowly, unwilling to pull others off their stations.  He relented and took help from Ben and Jen who quickly rectified the situation, pushing the entrees out. 

Christina criticized Matt for his monk fish being raw and Gordon reiterated the complaint.  Matt began to mumble under his breathe at Gordon.

"F**king useless," said Gordon, who called Matt over and told him to concentrate.

Jen's "crummy attitude" compounded the fact that she was slow delivering an onion ring, and then when she did, it had to be redone.  Petrozza implored Jen to move more quickly and Gordon backed him up by encouraging Petrozza to remind her who was boss.  He did so and she delivered the onion rings.

Petrozza was up 10 tables to eight over Christina, who pressured Matt to deliver the monk fish.  Once again it was undercooked and Christina was cursing Matt for landing on her team.  When Christina couldn't straighten Matt out Gordon offered to do it for her.

"I'll f**king tell him if you want me to," he told her.  "I'll run it!  Run your brigade!"

Christina was more assertive and Matt continued to mumble under his breath about wanting to be left alone.

"I don't know what Matt's problem with the monk fish was," she opined.  "This is my night and I'm not going to let him ruin it."

She pushed him forward as both kitchens reached the homestretch, with Gordon describing the competition as neck-and-neck.  The desserts were sent out to compliments from the patrons and Hell's Kitchen officially came to a close for the fourth-season.

Gordon congratulated both kitchens for having "more highs than lows" but reminded them their would be only one winner.  Petrozza and Christina then said goodbye to their teams before retreating to the dorms.

"I really do feel pretty good about it.  I feel like I've got a good shot at this.  I think I've got an edge," aid Petrozza.  "But you can never be certain."

Gordon poured over the comment cards and reflected on the recently concluded dinner service before calling both Petrozza and Christina downstairs.

"Making this decision has been shear agony for me.  I went back and forth a number of times," Gordon told them.  "Clearly you both have strengths and without a shadow of a doubt are two very worthy finalists.  After getting to know you both and watching you grow through Hell's Kitchen, I know both of you are going to go on to great success."

Christina was then revealed to be Hell's Kitchen's fourth-season winner and she celebrated the victory with her parents and her teammates from the final dinner service.

"Oh my God I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you guys," she exclaimed as she gave Corey a hug.  "If it wasn't for you guys I wouldn't be here."

"Christina had the least amount of experience coming into Hell's Kitchen," said Gordon at the finale's conclusion. 

"But I saw something in her that was quite special.  She had the best potential across any other chef in Hell's Kitchen, and in my business, I think long term.  I definitely, definitely made the right trust.  I feel like I've been on a roller coaster the last three months.  Of all the Hell's Kitchens, this has been the one with the most ups and downs.  But we ended on a high note, and now it's time for me to get the f**k out of Hell's Kitchen."

(Photo credit Mike Yarish/FOX)

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