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Rock Harper defeats Bonnie Muirhead to win Fox's 'Hell's Kitchen 3'


By Christopher Rocchio, 08/14/2007 

Those who bet heavily on Rock Harper to win Hell's Kitchen were rewarded, as the 30-year-old executive chef from Spotsylvania, VA was crowned the show's third-season culinary king during last night's finale of the Fox reality competition series.

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In defeating Bonnie Muirhead, a 26-year-old nanny and personal chef from Los Angeles, CA, Rock claimed Hell's Kitchen 3's grand prize --  the position of head chef at a new Italian restaurant at Las Vegas' Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino -- a job that comes with a $250,000 salary.

"This is just so big for me and my family," said Rock after foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay revealed he was the winner.  "I just won.  Thank God, I just won!  I owe everything I do to my family.  The fact that I finished, that I competed, shows my son and my daughter that if you really stick your mind to something, you can do it."

Hell's Kitchen 3's eleventh and final episode began following last week's penultimate broadcast of their final reward challenge, which had both Bonnie and Rock selecting three kitchen helpers for their final dinner service challenge from a pool of the six previously eliminated Hell's Kitchen 3 finalists.  The two decided to continue the battle of the sexes, as Bonnie picked Melissa Firpo, Julia Williams and Jen Yemola, while Rock chose Vinnie Fama, Brad Miller and Josh Wahler.

With only 10 hours before that night's final dinner service challenge, Rock and Bonnie took their teams up to the dorms to go over the menus they had previously created.  Bonnie was confident her all-female team was better than the boys, while Rock was also feeling happy because he felt he knew how to handle his team's strengths and weaknesses.

Rock was meticulously prepared for the final challenge, however the same could not be said for Bonnie.  She may have been more relaxed than Rock, but had incomplete recipes for her dishes, something that made her "very concerned."  As the clock wound down before the final challenge, both finalists set-up their stations in the Hell's Kitchen restaurant and began prep work.

Rock thought things were going "really well" and was constantly motivating his team because he realized their importance to him if he wanted to win.  Bonnie continued to have problems, as Julia chastised her for being treated like an "idiot" while Bonnie thought the fact Julia was working for her would be a "humbling" experience.

In addition to creating their own menus for the final dinner service challenge, Bonnie and Rock also each redesigned a section of the restaurant.  Bonnie was upset that there wasn't enough of the wallpaper she picked to finish the job, while Rock was experiencing problems in the kitchen, finding himself micro-managing his team.  Rock singled Josh out, pulled him aside, and reminded him to trust in his abilities as a chef.

For the final dinner service challenge, both Bonnie and Rock created a menu that consisted of three appetizers, three entrees and three desserts.  Bonnie was the first to have her menu tasted by Gordon, and overall he was impress but felt the dessert was lacking, so Bonnie made a few quick adjustments.  Gordon also felt good about Rock's menu, but criticized the dessert for being "clumsy" and reminding him to go easy on the garlic in the mashed potatoes.

After a few words of advice from Gordon -- who also gave Bonnie and Rock their own master chef jackets -- the two finalists took one last chance to rally their teams as the Hell's Kitchen 3 restaurant patrons arrived.  Hell's Kitchen 3's final dinner service challenge then commenced with orders coming in for both kitchens.  Rock said it felt "kind of awkward" to be running the kitchen, but was still "proud," while Gordon noticed the "energy" in Bonnie's kitchen and thought both teams were off to a "good start."

However Bonnie quickly ran into a communication problem with her team, commenting that Julia was "disregarding" everything she said.   Bonnie also criticized Jen for not being vocal enough although Jen seemed to be the only one on the team correctly giving and taking kitchen commands.  Bonnie also decided to give Julia the silent treatment, a move that didn't sit to well with Gordon, who reminded her to keep the lines of communication open.

Despite their problems, Bonnie's team was still pushing out appetizers as Rock experienced his first problem with Josh slowing down the rest of the team by burning a good amount of crab cakes.  Gordon encouraged Rock to take control of his kitchen and push Josh harder as his team started to fall behind, with Bonnie and her girls finished with appetizers and moving onto entrees 90 minutes into the challenge.

But Bonnie's lack of recipe preparation was rearing its ugly head, as she was informed the fettuccine for her signature dish had run out and would be replaced with boxed spaghetti.  Bonnie called the setback "devastating," and it was only compounded when her kitchen also ran out of prawns.

Rock was still having problems with Josh, who continued to burn crab cakes.  Gordon reiterated how important it was for Rock to make a change if he felt it was necessary, and Rock took the advice, replacing Josh with Vinnie at the fish station.  While Vinnie was concerned because he hadn't been prepared to work that station, he knew Rock was relying on him and gave it his all.  Gordon was pleased with the way Rock handled the situation.

Bonnie's "nightmare" then continued as two servings of her signature dish were sent back for being "cold and undercooked."  But both teams were able to pull it together as Bonnie and her team finished with entrees and moved onto desserts while Rock couldn't just watch and bark orders, instead deciding to be actively involved in his kitchen. 

Bonnie and Julia had one more small verbal tiff before the final dinner service challenge ended on a high note for both teams, with Julia apologizing to Bonnie.  Rock also commented he felt Josh had hurt his chances of winning the competition, a sentiment he shared with Gordon, adding if he had the opportunity he would have instead selected Jen for his team.  Needless to say, Jen was "honored" by the comment while Josh was "kind of pissed off."  Bonnie then told Gordon if she could do one thing over again, she would have double checked all of her portions.

After Bonnie and Rock said goodbye to their teams, the two finalists returned to the dorms to await Gordon's final decision, which he based on his own personal observations as well as comment cards from the restaurant's patrons.

"Tonight you both ran your kitchens.  Well done," Gordon told the two finalists.  "Bonnie, you have surprised me the most.  There's a level of assertiveness in you that is just extraordinary.  Rock there's a real safety about having you in the kitchen.  I can see why you're called Rock, because you're rock solid... I've made some real tough decisions, but nothing quite as tough as the one I've made this evening."

It was then revealed that Rock was the winner of Hell's Kitchen 3, and he celebrated his victory with his family and friends.  Bonnie took the defeat in stride.

"I am so happy for Rock," said Bonnie following her loss.  "I think Chef Ramsay did make the right decision.  I'm not worried about myself.  I think that the right opportunity will find me."

"Rock deserved to win Hell's Kitchen," said Gordon at the conclusion of last night's finale.  "He's a very confident cook, and he has become a very good leader.  He can motivate staff, he can create.  All those qualities are not easy to find in one chef.  Rock has all of them."

Fox has already ordered a fourth season of Hell's Kitchen that is scheduled to air in 2008 -- however Gordon Ramsay fans won't have to wait that long to see their favorite chef.  Kitchen Nightmares, a new reality series that follows Gordon as he travels across America and helps restaurants in crisis, premieres September 19 and will air Wednesdays at 9PM ET/PT on Fox during the fall.

(Photo credit Fox)


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