Christina Machamer, Louis Petrozza prepare for 'Hell's Kitchen' finale
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/02/2008
Christina Machamer and Louis Petrozza competed in their final challenge during a trip to New York City and began to prepare for their dinner service during Hell's Kitchen's penultimate fourth-season broadcast last night on Fox.
Christina, a 25-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, MO, and Petrozza, a 47-year-old catering director from Charlotte, NC, will now try to prove to Gordon Ramsay they have what it takes to win Hell's Kitchen'sfourth-season grand prize -- the position of executive chef at The London West Hollywood, a new restaurant he recently opened.
Hell's Kitchen's fourteenth fourth-season episode began following the previous elimination of Corey Earling, with Gordon congratulating both Christina and Petrozza for having made it to the Final 2.
Gordon then explained that for their final dinner service, each would receive half of the Hell's Kitchen restaurant -- which they'd be able to design to their liking. In addition, Christina and Petrozza would also be creating their own menus for the all-important final dinner services.
Before going to bed that night, Christina and Petrozza both brainstormed ideas for their menu. Christina described the task as "easy" as she quickly wrote down several ideas, while Petrozza struggled and had a hard time focusing.
The next morning both finalists awoke at 5AM and immediately met with Hell's Kitchen designer John Janavs, and Petrozza initially struggled in expressing what he wanted to do with his half of the restaurant. Christina boasted about how "confident" she was and had a million ideas as she reviewed wallpaper patterns with John.
"I definitely like the stripes better," she said.
With the help of Hell's Kitchen maitre d' Jean-Philippe Susilovic, Christina and Petrozza then selected outfits for their staff. Petrozza gushed about all of the selections, while Christina didn't like any and sulked about how she wanted a simple black and white shirt and pants combination.
Christina then met with Hell's Kitchen sous chef Gloria Felix while Petrozza met with sous chef Scott Leibfried, and both of their menus began to take shape.
After a busy morning, Christina and Petrozza were called into Gordon's office, where he revealed they'd immediately be traveling to New York City. While they were away, the design team would be remodeling the restaurant based on their previous conversations with John.
Once Christina and Petrozza arrived in New York City, Gordon took them on a limousine ride through Times Square -- where their names appeared on an illuminated billboard -- before presenting both finalists with an all-expense paid trip to Dubai, where they'd be given the chance to study at his restaurant.
They were then taken to Gordon's London New York eatery. Gordon explained that for their final challenge, Christina and Petrozza would have to prepare their signature dish.
Petrozza prepared filet mignon with caramelized onion risotto and a red wine balsamic demi-glaze, which he thought was "unbeatable;" while Christina prepared a New York strip steak with sweet corn succotash and roasted fingerling potatoes, and she commented the challenge was "in the bag."
Once both were done preparing their dishes, Gordon revealed they would be judged by executive chefs from five of his restaurants.
Mark Sargeant -- the executive chef at Gordon's Claridge's eatery -- was the first to taste, and he awarded his vote to Petrozza because he thought Christina's was a little "bland." Next up was Ciello's restaurant executive chef Angela Hartnett, who also awarded her vote to Petrozza since Christina's dish was "dry."
Boxwood Cafe chef Stuart Gillies gave Christina her first vote when he liked her dish better than Petrozza's, which he thought was a bit too one-sided with its sweetness. Au Trianon Versailles chef Simone Zanoni also voted for Christina's dish due to its nice combination of flavors.
The challenge came down to London New York chef Josh Emett -- who would be the fourth-season winner's new boss at The London West Hollywood. While Christina set a Hell's Kitchen record by winning nine fourth-season challenges, it was finally Petrozza's time to shine as Josh awarded him the challenge victory.
For his reward, Petrozza would have the first pick of previously eliminated fourth-season contestants who would help both him and Christina during the final dinner service.
After being introduced to Whoopi Goldberg, both Christina and Petrozza flew back across the country and arrived at Hell's Kitchen around 2AM -- a mere 16 hours before the final dinner service. Christina was immediately displeased with the design of her restaurant, the walls of which were covered with stripes.
"It's not how I imagined it at all," whined Christina. "I want to vomit. Not having control makes me crazy. I don't like it."
Things only got worse for Christina when she learned that some of Petrozza's side of the restaurant would be encroaching on her side due to the logistics of the space. Still, Christina was able to get what she wanted when she told John to simply paint the walls chocolate colors and get rid of the stripes.
Both finalists finally went to bed during the wee hours of the morning and tried to sleep despite being anxious.
"It took me all my life to get here," said Petrozza. "If I win, this would be the most successful thing I've ever done."
"It's down to Petrozza and I. I like those odds," boasted Christina. "I want to get in the kitchen, let's go!"
The next morning Christina and Petrozza awoke and met Gordon in the kitchen. He then revealed the identities of the six previously eliminated fourth-season contestants the two finalists would have to choose from -- Bobby Anderson, Ben Caylor, Corey Earling, Matt Sigel, Louross Edralin and Jennifer Gavin.
Petrozza used his first pick on Bobby while Christina chose Corey, neither of which were surprising choices. Petrozza then chose Ben, while Christina took Louross. With Matt and Jen left to decide from, Petrozza was facing a difficult choice.
"This is a really tough decision," he said. "It's like the lesser of two evils."
Hell's Kitchen's fourth-season finale will air Tuesday, July 8 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.
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