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Gordon Ramsay: 'Hell's Kitchen 3' finalists both 'deserve' to be there

By Christopher Rocchio, 08/06/2007 

Competing on Fox's Hell's Kitchen is never easy, but foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay feels it was even more difficult for those who participated in the reality culinary competition's currently airing third season.

"This year was tough," said Ramsay during an interview published in Monday's USA Today.  "Every year, we raise the bar. But some say some contestants were not as up to speed as in previous seasons. Regardless, the pressure was still there. And this season was a lot more intense, with animosity in and out of the kitchen."

Bonnie Muirhead, a 26-year-old nanny and personal chef from Los Angeles, CA, and Rock Harper, a 30-year-old executive chef from Spotsylvania, VA, are the only two remaining finalists competing for the Hell's Kitchen 3 grand prize -- the position of head chef at a new Italian restaurant at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.

"The two finalists deserve to be where they are. The end is always a tough call. For one, it's the end of a dream, and for the other, it's just the beginning," Ramsay told USA Today.  "Bonnie has a phenomenal palate. Chefs across America would love to have what she can taste - a natural ability to connect with food. Rock is determined and can cook really well. However, he is bad-tempered, so can he run a brigade? Can he inspire?"

Whether it's Muirhead's "natural ability" or Harper's "determination," Ramsay said both are ingredients for the perfect chef.

"Natural instinct is just something you can never buy," he told USA Today.  "There is a level of complexity that must connect with a chef's instincts in the kitchen. These things, plus a combination of hard work and determination."

Ramsay said Muirhead, Harper and the 10 other wannabe chefs and restaurateurs who competed in Hell's Kitchen 3 received a crash course in what it's like to work in an intense setting, one of the reasons for his often unleashed temper.

"I do add a little pressure, but it's not different from my own kitchen," he told USA Today.  "Chefs I have been working with since October 1993, they are now more like partners. It's so hard to see someone start lying or cutting corners."

Culinary shortcuts were definitely on display in Hell's Kitchen 3's third episode, when Jen Yemola attempted to serve pasta she had thrown in the trash and then rinsed off while Joanna Dunn prepared rancid crab meat.

"Oh, my God, the place would close down," Ramsay told USA Today about the gaffs.  "That split second of stupidity could be detrimental to the restaurant."

Instead of shortcuts, Ramsay said he'd rather Hell's Kitchen viewers learn hard work is the correct path to success.

"Youngsters can see the results from hard work," he told USA Today.  "They need to understand discipline. And not just necessarily with cooking or running a restaurant, but that whatever they do, they will do it well."

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