Colleen the fifth contestant cut from 'Hell's Kitchen's fifth season
By John Bracchitta, 03/06/2009
Colleen, a 41-year-old cooking school instructor from Papillion, NE, drew the ire of Chef Gordon Ramsey numerous times during her time on Hell's Kitchen, and paid the ultimate price when she became the fifth contestant eliminated from the Fox reality cooking competition's fifth season during last night's broadcast.
"Chef Ramsey and Hell's Kitchen made me better. It made me a better person, it's gonna make me a better mom, it's gonna make me a better chef, and it's gonna make me a better instructor," she said following her elimination. "I hope that one day he'll cook at my cooking school."
Hell's Kitchen's fifth fifth-season episode began immediately following the elimination of Seth as well as Gordon's decision to switch Lacey, a 24-year-old corporate buffet cook from Charlotte, NC, from the Red team to the Blue team at the conclusion of the season's fourth episode. Following the announcement, Andrea, a 30-year-old line cook from Reading, PA, could not hold back her excitement about the move.
"Lacey is the 'Blues Brothers' problem now!" she exclaimed. "The kitchen Gods have answered my prayers."
While other members from the Red team hugged each other and laughed about the decision, Ben, a 26-year-old executive sous chef from Chicago, IL, and other members from the Blue team sat down with Lacey and laid out the parameters for her to succeed on their team.
"We're not looking for another Seth. We were just on the verge of losing our last piece of dead weight," Ben said. "We feel There's a chance we may have just gotten another piece."
"No, I understand," Lacey responded. "All I ask is that you give me a chance. If I really suck, please put me up for elimination."
"Oh we won't hesitate," Ben responded.
"I know you won't," Lacey said back.
The following morning, the chefs met Gordon at an Asian market where each team was told they would have 25 minutes to scour the market with $100 to spend and buy the ingredients for three Asian fusion dishes -- one meat, one fish and one poultry -- that they would be cooking.
While the Red team took time to stop and organize their plans, the Blue team took a decidedly more "smash and grab" approach as they ran through the market with far less planning beforehand. Still, both teams managed to get their food and finish on time and under budget.
Upon getting back to the Hell's Kitchen set, the teams broke out into pairs and were given one hour to cook all of their dishes. While Lacey wanted to get involved in the cooking, she was eventually relegated to chopping duty after being largely ignored by her new teammates.
After completing their dishes, both teams presented their dishes to Gordon as well as guest judge Tanya Steel, the editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com.
Gordon and Tanya both preferred the Blue team's poultry dish -- a pad thai barbeque chicken -- over the Red team's dish -- a pomegranate cinnamon glazed chicken breast." However, they also preferred the Red team's fish dish -- a tuna tempura with vegetable -- over the Blue team's dish -- pan-seared scallops with a sea urchin and caviar sauce.
Gordon left the deciding vote for the meat dish to Tanya, who preferred the Red team's kobe beef sashimi brushed with a Korean style sauce over the Blue team's beef pizzaiola -- giving the challenge to the Red team.
"The ladies stick together man, no matter who the lady is," Robert, a 29-year-old sous chef from Quogue, NY, said of Tanya's decision.
For their reward, the Red team was treated to an asian-influences day complete with wrestling in sumo wrestler costumes -- for which Gordon joined them -- and a sake tasting. Meanwhile, the Blue team's punishment for losing the challenge consisted of first making homemade fortune cookies before making origami and decorating the Hell's Kitchen restaurant with them.
Following yet another veiled threat by Lacey that she was going to quit the competition -- for which she was chewed out by Giovanni, a 37-year-old executive chef from Destin, FL, who told her to stop thinking negatively -- the struggling chef finally found a place for herself on the Blue team after helping many of the men complete their origami.
"It was nice to know that finally I could teach someone something," Lacey said later. "That felt really good. I needed it."
That evening, Gordon gathered the teams before beginning the evening's service and told them that the Red team's tuna tempura dish -- which he called one of the best dishes in the history of the show -- would be on the menu that evening.
Both teams got off to promising starts, with Giovanni and LA, a 23-year-old line cook from Las Vegas, NV, both impressing Gordon with their risottos.
Lacey also continued to impress her new team by taking charge in the kitchen and barking out orders to keep the Blue team focused.
"Lacey was throwing her food up, she was very vocal and asking people how long on this and that," a surprised Giovanni said. "Maybe she's motivated as she wants to kick the Red team's ass."
However, both teams eventually hit a wall as service began slowing in both kitchens after a group of sumo wrestlers entered the restaurant and ordered most of the items on the menu.
Matters were made worse for the Red team when Andrea burnt her beef Wellingtons and attempted to hide them. However, after Gordon found them, he promptly screamed at her.
"I'm screwed," Andrea said later.
Colleen also received her requisite verbal beat down from Gordon after she left the oven doors open while dishes were cooking inside of it.
Gordon also angered Robert substantially after repeatedly calling him "Bobby" instead of "Robert" -- which Robert took offense to because of his troubled childhood with his father who was named "Bobby." After not looking Gordon in the eyes and telling him that he refused to send a dish up that he knew would be sent back, Robert was taken out of the kitchen by Gordon and yelled at.
"If you've got a comeback I'd use it now, because you look like a sulky, pissed off cook," Gordon yelled at him later. Find some passion, cook your heart out, don't f--k around!"
"Dude, it took a lot from me to hold back, I'm telling you that son," Robert said later.
Things only got worse in both kitchens as Andrea got slowed on the meat station and held up a bunch of orders, while J, a 32-year-old food court chef from Clifton Park, NY, prepared chicken that was still raw on the inside before forgetting to cook an order of lamb.
"I know J is having bad night, but he like forgot an order!" Lacey said in shock.
Following a dessert pastry that was prepared by Colleen that was still raw on the inside, Gordon told both teams to stop cooking and called their night in the kitchen "pathetic" and the "worst performance" so far by both teams.
"It's impossible to announce a winning team" he added, before saying that Giovanni and LA -- the only contestants he complimented on their performance that evening -- would each be nominating one member of their teams for elimination.
While both teams discussed whom to put up for elimination, Robert received a rare apology from Gordon after explaining to him in a private meeting why he had reacted the way he did to being called "Bobby" instead of Robert.
For the Red team, LA said that she was deciding between Andrea and Colleen. However her decision was made somewhat easier when Andrea said that she would understand if she were put up for elimination.
For the Blue team, J admitted that he had "f--ked up real bad" while Robert only told Giovanni that he had to "do what you gotta do." Giovanni added that he would not nominate Lacey because she had performed admirably in the kitchen.
Upon meeting with Gordon, LA announced that she had nominated Andrea, saying that "her communication wasn't there, the cooking wasn't there. It just wasn't there."
Giovanni said that while Robert had come close to getting nominated, he had just been edged out by J.
"He performed bad from the start to the end," Giovanni said of J.
After calling J and Andrea down from the line, Gordon asked both of them why they should remain in the competition
"I've got the skills and i have the talent," J said. "I'm very confident, I know what I'm able to do."
"I want to stay in Hell's Kitchen because I want that opportunity to be back on that meat station and I wanna nail it from beginning to end and prove that I have what it takes, not only to you but to myself."
Gordon said that the decision was "tough" between the two, but then surprised them by sending them back to the line and turning his attention to Colleen and Robert instead.
"You've had five services madam, and all five of them have been shocking," Gordon told Colleen. "Take off your jacket and leave Hell's Kitchen."
The next episode of Hell's Kitchen will air on Thursday, March 12 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.