Dominic DiFrancesca the first cut from 'Hell's Kitchen's fourth season
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/02/2008
Dominic DiFrancesca learned the hard way that cooking for his family and cooking for Gordon Ramsay are two entirely different things.
The 43-year-old stay-at-home dad from Catawba, SC was revealed to be the first culinary contestant eliminated from Hell's Kitchen's fourth-season during last night's premiere broadcast of the Fox reality competition series.
"Being here and being sent home the first night is really a heartbreaker," said Dominic following his ouster. "I had an opportunity to work with Chef Ramsay -- it's a dream of mine. But that dream was dashed."
Hell's Kitchen's fourth-season premiere broadcast began with the 15 culinary contestants boarding a bus to transport them to the show's restaurant/housing facility they called home for the duration of filming. However unbeknownst to them, Gordon was among them incognito -- complete with a wig and prosthetic makeup.
Once they arrived, the contestants were greeted by Hell's Kitchen maitre 'd Jean-Philippe, who impressed them with his impression of Gordon before asking them to do the same. The contestant that did the best impression of the foul-mouthed British chef was actually Gordon, who subsequently revealed himself.
"Oh my God! I had been sitting next to the chef the whole f**king time!" said Rosann, a 33-year-old receptionist and former cook from Staten Island, NY.
Gordon immediately ordered them into the kitchen, where they'd have 45 minutes to cook him their signature dishes, which "explains exactly who they are."
Craig, a 30-year-old sous chef from Coram, NY, was the first to present his dish. He was wearing a tall chef hat due to his short stature and was mocked by Gordon for it before explaining his jerk-seared Chilean sea bass. Gordon thought it was "so sweet," called it a "pile of sh*t" and ordered him to remove the hat.
"If you come down to my kitchen again wearing a ridiculous hat like that," warned Gordon, "I'll stick it in your f**king ass sideways."
Jen, a 24-year-old line cook from Chicago, IL, went next and prepared a crab and lobster tail risotto. Gordon said the rice was raw. He continued through the contestants, blasting the dishes prepared by Corey, a 25-year-old private chef from Brooklyn, NY; Jason, a 29-year-old sous chef from Las Vegas, NV; Shayna, a 28-year-old catering-company owner from Buffalo, NY; and Matt, a 35-year-old sous chef from Pinehill, NJ who caused Gordon to vomit.
"I really didn't understand what Chef Ramsay didn't like about the dish," opined Matt. "I'm a little boggled on that."
Dominic went next and explained his most recent culinary experience was cooking for his family. His signature dish was chicken cacciatore.
"For 45 minutes, I expected something a little more exciting," said Gordon. "Back in line."
"I felt relieved because at least I didn't make him throw-up like the last dish," said a relieved Dominic.
Rosann stepped up to the plate with a spicy muscle soup, and Gordon said "it's actually not too bad" and was "seasoned perfectly."
Petrozza, a 47-year-old catering director from Charlotte, NC, said he doesn't have a specialty and can "cook anything" so he prepared a Cornish hen inside a small pumpkin garnished by greasy potatoes. Gordon thoroughly bashed it as being "dry" and unseasoned.
Sharon, a 31-year-old room-service chef from Las Vegas, NV, was also criticized; Ben, a 29-year-old electrician and former chef from Charlotte, NC, did better with the comment of "not bad;" Christina, a 25-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, MO, had a "good concept" with "terrible execution;" while Louross, a 24-year-old hotel cook from Las Vegas, NV, received a mediocre review.
Vanessa, a 31-year-old line cook from Bozeman, MT, then presented her signature dish -- a halibut -- and Gordon called it the "tastiest thing I've had all day" and "delicious."
Bobby, a 37-year-old executive chef from Niagara Falls, NY, was the last contestant to go and presented his Hawaiian butter fish with roasted red pepper Thai sauce. Gordon thought it was "embarrassingly lazy" that Bobby had deep-fried the fish.
Gordon then revealed the fourth-season prize -- a $250,000 executive chef position at The London West Hollywood, a new restaurant he's opening this summer. He introduced them to fourth-season sous chefs Scott and Gloria before revealing for the first time in Hell's Kitchen history, each team will have a captain during dinner service.
The contestants were sent to the dorm and immediately had to decide on a captain. The women selected Vanessa and busily began to memorize the menu with little time to spare.
"It's my responsibility to make sure that our service goes well -- and if it doesn't go well -- then I will be the one thrown off first," she said.
Meanwhile the men had a more difficult time selecting a captain, with several volunteering themselves for the roll. Bobby was the most vocal in wanting the position and eventually received a majority of the other male contestants' votes, making him their team's first captain.
"I'm pretty much ready to rock n' roll," he boasted.
Deciding they needed sleep, the men went to bed at 10:42PM while the women instead stayed up until 1AM familiarizing themselves with the menu.
They awoke bright and early the next morning at 7AM, with the traditional all-male Blue Team and all-female Red Team immediately taking to the kitchen with only 11 hours before their first dinner service.
"Bobby was great as a leader," commented Matt. "We had some great team spirit and great teamwork."
Vanessa wasn't as vocal of a leader as Bobby, and sous chef Gloria said they were moving slower than they were supposed to.
"I was hoping Vanessa would step-up as a leader," opined Corey. "I think tonight has the possibility of being a train wreck."
Minutes before Hell's Kitchen's first fourth-season dinner service commenced, none of the Blue Team members could name the entrees. Meanwhile the Red Team nailed the five entrees, much to Gordon's delight.
"The guys suck and they're going to go down in flames," said Christina.
Gordon then revealed that one member from each team would be serving a special starter table side, and selected Petrozza and Shayna for the rolls.
The dinner service began and appetizer orders started to come in, however Jason was outside smoking a cigarette instead of helping. Petrozza and Shayna did a good job table side while Sharon struggled with the Red Team's appetizers. Jen tried to help and Sharon saw her as "overbearing." Gordon bashed the appetizer for lacking seasoning -- and not surprisingly, Sharon placed some of the blame on Jen.
Bobby described Jason's first appetizer as "terrible, terrible, terrible" and Gordon agreed. However Gordon also criticized Bobby for not being a hands-on leader. Sharon's second attempt at the risotto appetizer also flopped, and Jen was switched into the station. Jason's second appetizer attempt also failed -- and an hour into the dinner service, no food had come out of either kitchen.
"I'm horribly embarrassed by myself," said Jason. "I should have stayed home."
The Red Team's kitchen was floundering, and Gordon decided to switch things up by appointing Rosann captain and taking the job away from Vanessa.
"I sucked as a captain," said Vanessa. "It was pretty bad."
Rosann was much more vocal as captain, barking orders in her thick New York accent. In the Blue Team kitchen, Dominic's scallops were criticized by Gordon for being like "rubber."
"What a disaster," said Dominic.
Gordon was looking for someone to take control of the Blue Team kitchen and gave Bobby the opportunity, however he was afraid it would just add "confusion."
Jen's risotto in the Red Kitchen was complimented by Gordon, and the women's appetizers were finally starting to come out. The Blue Team continued to raise Gordon's ire, and Louross spoke up and suggested the guys start tasting their food. Gordon took Bobby's captain title away and gave it to Louross.
The Red Team moved from preparing appetizers to entrees, however Corey's chicken was described as "plastic" and "dry." Jason finally got the appetizers under control for the Blue Team -- but it was too late, as patrons were already leaving the restaurant.
"Stop!" yelled Gordon. "Look out there! Your customers are gone! Shut it down!"
Both teams were embarrassed by what had happened.
"Tonight, no entrees served whatsoever," said Gordon, adding Bobby "performed like a coward." He also criticized Jason for having "sunk" his service; compared Vanessa's leadership to that of a "mouse;" and bashed Corey's rubbery chicken.
"Let's be honest," he continued. "No one's won here tonight. The losing team tonight is the men. Louross, clearly you tried. The best of the very worst."
He then sent the Blue Team back to the dorm so Louross could nominate two people for elimination.
Bobby was an obvious choice due to his poor leadership and herefused to "kiss ass." Louross asked Dominic how he thought he performed, and he admitted to overcooking the scallops and said it wasn't the same as preparing meals for his family.
"I feel that I did poorly," opined Dominic. "I've been out of the kitchen for 10 years, but I don't want to go home tonight."
Louross then contemplated his impending decision before nominating Bobby and Dominic for elimination. Dominic claimed he was "misdirected" by his captain -- Bobby -- and then admitted to ruining roughly 30 scallops while trying to properly prepare them for the appetizer. Bobby initially defended his leadership before finally admitting he didn't do a good job as captain.
Gordon then revealed Dominic was the first culinary contestant to be given the boot.
Hell's Kitchen's next fourth-season episode will air Tuesday, April 8 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.