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Vanessa Gunnell quits 'Hell's Kitchen's fourth season due to burns


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/30/2008 

Vanessa Gunnell couldn't take the heat in Hell's Kitchen -- especially since it burned her hand during the previous dinner service.

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The 31-year-old line cook from Bozeman, MT quit Hell's Kitchen's fourth season during last night's broadcast and was thus the fifth culinary contestant to exit the Fox reality competition series.

"I made my choice.  My team is better off without me than with me," said Vanessa after she left the competition.  "I don't consider myself a failure.  Hell's Kitchen is an immersion in fire and it's too much for me."

Hell's Kitchen's fifth fourth-season episode began following the previous dinner service that saw the elimination of Craig Schneider.  Upstairs in the dorms, Vanessa said she was unsure how her hand would affect her moving forward in the competition.

"I hope this doesn't completely destroy my chances for continuing in Hell's Kitchen," she opined.

The next morning, Vanessa's fears were realized as she was having a hard time doing anything in the kitchen.

"I can't touch anything, I can't be over any heat, I can't get my hands wet -- I can't do anything," she said.  "It sucks."

"I think Vanessa's a little frustrated right now, and it's understandable," commented Shayna, a 28-year-old catering-company owner from Buffalo, NY.  "She doesn't want to let us down and we want to help her through this."

The 11 remaining contestants then met Gordon Ramsay, who explained their next challenge would revolve around taking the ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary.  He gave the example of his white truffle onion pizza -- which costs more than $200 at one of his restaurants.

For their next challenge, the members of each team would have 45 minutes to create their own "fine-dining" pizza, for which they'd have more than 130 ingredients to choose from.  Once all the pizzas were prepared, each team would determine amongst themselves which one is the best, and they'd perfect it before presenting it to Gordon.

The Red Team rallied around Vanessa and kept an open line of communication about the pizzas they were creating, while the Blue Team lacked communication and basically ignored Matt, a 35-year-old sous chef from Pinehill, NJ.

"No one gives a f**k," said Matt.  "No one answers around here and that's why we lose, because no one f*cking communicates."

The Red Team decided to use 24-year-old Chicago-based line cook Jen's "Little Bit of Italy, Little Bit of France" pizza -- which consisted of an herb crust, sliced priscuto, sun-dried tomatoes and fried basil as a garnish. 

However the Blue Team had a harder time choosing a pizza, with Ben, a 29-year-old electrician and former chef from Charlotte, NC, and Bobby, a 37-year-old executive chef from Niagara Falls, NY, being critical of everyone's but their own. 

Ben called Matt's pizza "quite nasty," and added the pizza prepared by Louross, a 24-year-old hotel cook from Las Vegas, NV, tasted like it was "from a pizza shack."

The Blue Team subsequently decided to go with Ben's pizza, which consisted of mushrooms, caramelized onions and cream sauce on the bottom.  However Ben and Bobby basically made the decision without the rest of the team and did so before the pizza being made by Petrozza, a 47-year-old catering director from Charlotte, NC, was even ready.

Gordon tasted both team's pizzas, and described the decision as "very tight, very difficult."  However he claimed the Red Team victorious since one of the mushrooms on Ben's pizza still had some dirt on it.

For their reward, the Red Team would be accompanying Gordon to Santa Barbara's Square One restaurant -- the home of the $90 hamburger.  In addition, Jen's pizza would be on the menu for the upcoming dinner service. 

For their punishment, the Blue Team would be prepping all the pizza dough and ingredients prior to the dinner service.  Gordon also provided the Blue Team with a pep talk, claiming they're not lacking talent, but teamwork.  Louross took the defeat hard and was crying.

"There's no need to walk around like a whiny-ass, little punk bitch," said Ben.

As the guys did their prep work, Matt expressed his desire for the team to communicate.

"We've got to get the communication going," he said.  "Chef Ramsay's giving us pearls of wisdom like they're coming out of the Japanese giant oyster.  If you don't listen to Chef Ramsay's advice, something is mentally wrong with you."

However there was still a lack of communication, and Louross criticized Ben for his previous "pizza shack" comment.

"Louross I'm going to be honest with you," answered Ben. "There's no room for bitches in this game right now."

"Are you calling me a bitch?" replied Louross.

"You broke down dude, and you broke down in front of chef," said Ben.

"You don't know what a break down is when you see it.  Trust me," responded Louross.  "That was just I'm sick and tired of this s**t."

The two continued to bicker as they finished their prep work, and the Red Team didn't return to the dorms until 1:20AM.

The next morning, Vanessa immediately found herself struggling in the kitchen yet again due to her heavily bandaged hand.

"It's really difficult to not be able to bang-out prep with everybody else," said Vanessa.  "I feel so f**king useless, and I don't know what the hell I'm going to do to get through service tonight."

Vanessa decided to go talk to Gordon, describing her burn as a "little painful."  He called it a "tough obstacle," and she broke down.

"I don't like being in the kitchen and not being able to cook the way I'm used to cooking," she opined through tears.  "It's killing me."

"But you still have every chance of winning this competition, with or without the burn," Gordon assured her.  "So the choice is yours to leave Hell's Kitchen or to stay."

Vanessa said she's "not a quitter" and "not weak," and Gordon reiterated the decision is "entirely" hers.

"If I can't be here !00% chef, I don't want to be here," said Vanessa, sealing her fate.

"What a shame," answered Gordon.  "I respect your decision."

Vanessa went and said goodbye to her team, packed and left.

"It's unfortunate that Vanessa's burn took her out of the competition," said Gordon.  "Well never know if she really had what it takes to win Hell's Kitchen."

Prior to the dinner service commencing, Gordon explained that for the first time Hell's Kitchen would be running a pizza delivery service, which was advertised by a plane flying over Los Angeles with a banner. 

As an additional part of their punishment for losing the challenge, Gordon said a Blue Team member would be responsible for delivering the pizzas in a golf cart-type vehicle.

"God f**king help us tonight because we need a miracle," said Gordon, as none of the previous fourth-season dinner services had been completed by both teams.

Hell's Kitchen's fifth fourth-season dinner service commenced, and Gordon said Jen got the Red Team off to a "good start" by helming the hot appetizer station.  Ben was tapped as the pizza delivery man for the evening, and as he prepared to leave Matt was criticized by Gordon for his failure to properly fry an egg.  Matt continued to struggle with the eggs, so Bobby took over.

"I had to pick-up a lot of the slack tonight," he commented.

The Blue Team finally got some appetizers out while the Red Team started to deliver their first few entrees to the pass.  However the Beef Wellington was bashed for being "really soft" and raw, and since it needed to be redone it caused a chain reaction that slowed the rest of the kitchen.

Ben embarked on his deliveries and -- while he initially had problems navigating around the city because he's not familiar with L.A. -- he eventually succeeded.

Back in the kitchen, Shayna's second attempt at the Wellington received compliments from Gordon, however the same couldn't be said for the mashed potatoes and vegetables being prepared by Rosann, a 33-year-old receptionist and former cook from Staten Island, NY.  It was causing the rest of the Red Team to fall behind, and Gordon thought it was "pathetic" that Rosann couldn't properly prepare veggies.

"Rosann, not good enough!" he barked.

Jen subsequently stepped in and helped Rosann with the veggies as Louross had a problem in the Blue Team's kitchen cooking the Beef Wellington so it was medium well.  Sous chef Scott criticized Louross for sending the steaks to the pass even though he knew they weren't cooked properly.

Instead of cooking more Wellingtons, Petrozza concocted a plan to simply slice a thin portion of the singed meat to thus expose its pink face.  Louross didn't like the idea at first since he was afraid he'd get in trouble for it, but he eventually relented since there were really no other faster options.  Scott didn't notice Petrozza's trick and Louross was happy.

As the Red Team continued to push out entrees, Christina, a 25-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, MO, was having a hard time cooking the souffles without burning them since Jen was supposed to be helping her but was instead tending to Rosann. 

Christina described her situation as "really frustrating," and Gordon eventually sent Corey, a 25-year-old private chef from Brooklyn, NY, to assist with the souffles.

The dinner service ended on a high note as both team's were able to complete it, and Gordon congratulated them on a job well done.  Since there was really no losing team, Gordon explained each would be responsible for nominating a member for elimination.

"I know I'm safe tonight," said Matt on his way upstairs.

However Bobby and Petrozza immediately targeted Matt once in the dorms.  Ben disagreed, and thought Louross should be nominated since he's the "weakest cook." 

"I f**ked up," admitted Louross to his team members, adding he "disappointed" himself, his team and Gordon with his effort.

Rosann sensed she was going to be the Red Team's nomination due to her poor service, and said she had no plans to "fight it."  However Jen thought it would be better to nominate Christina since she talks too much and never has anything good to say.  Corey and Shayna agreed, and Rosann obviously agreed as well since it meant she'd be off the block.  When Rosann told Christina, she was not too happy.

"I'm feeling really angry," she said.  "My team just stabbed me in the back.  Now I don't think I can trust anybody on the Red Team honestly -- nobody but myself."

The two teams then reconvened in the kitchen.  Ben told Gordon the Blue Team was nominating Louross because he "might be the weakest one on the team when it comes to culinary skills." Christina then told Gordon that the Red Team had decided to nominate her.

"Jen, I'm finding this hard to believe," said Gordon after Christina told him that the Red Team saw her as the "weakest" chef.  "Are you threatened by Christina's intelligence."

Jen said she wasn't intimidated and made the mistake of boasting how she determines her own fate in Hell's Kitchen.

"That's my f**king job sweetheart," replied Gordon before asking Rosann if she really felt she's a better chef than Christina.

"Yes I do chef," she answered.

"Madam, you completely screwed your team," Gordon told her.

Louross and Christina then stepped forward and pled their cases -- which included Louross throwing Matt under the bus -- however it didn't really matter since Gordon said the only person leaving Hell's Kitchen at the time was Vanessa.

"That's my gift to both teams tonight for completing a full service," he said.  "Do not take this for granted.  From this moment on, all i want now is a better, complete dinner service every night."

Hell's Kitchen's next fourth-season episode will air Tuesday, May 6 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.



(Photo credit Fox)


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