Vinnie Fama becomes the fifth chef eliminated from 'Hell's Kitchen 3'
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/26/2007
Vinnie Fama couldn't cook enough beef wellington correctly and didn't live up to his self-perpetuating hype in the opinion of foul-mouthed culinary king Gordon Ramsay. As a result, the 29-year-old night-club chef from Milltown, NJ became the fifth wannabe chef and restaurateur eliminated from the third season of Fox's Hell's Kitchen during last night's broadcast.
"I can't do what [Gordon] does," said Vinnie upon his elimination. "He's got years of experience on me. He knows what oysters and caviar taste like from Japan. He knows what spices from India are like, and I don't know that. There's a lot of things I'd like to do over, but the reality is, there are no second chances in Hell's Kitchen."
Hell's Kitchen 3's fourth episode began with Jen Yemola, a 26-year-old pastry chef from Hazelton, PA, lamenting her "crappy decision" during the previous dinner service, which saw her retrieve some spaghetti from the garbage, wash it off, and attempt to serve it to a customer before being stopped by a fellow member of her Red team. As the remaining contestants continued to unwind and talk back in their living quarters, Jen blamed her sense of judgement due to the pressure of the kitchen, and Vinnie told her if he was in Gordon's position he would have eliminated her for it.
The next morning, the eight remaining contestants met Gordon in the kitchen where he told them they still have "a hell of a lot to learn." Once they had arrived, Gordon explained that since he felt none of them had been pushing their "pallets to the extreme," their next challenge would require each of them to be blindfolded and attempt to correctly identify three different foods.
In the first heat, Julia Williams, a 28-year-old short-order cook from Atlanta, GA, faced-off against Brad Miller, a 25-year-old sous chef from Scottsdale, AZ. Julia was able to correctly identify both American cheese and fried chicken, while Brad was only able to get the chicken and both missed boiled carrot.
With the Red team up two to one, Melissa Firpo, a 29-year-old line cook from New York, NY, faced Rock Harper, a 30-year-old executive chef from Spotsylvania, VA, in the next heat. Rock nailed egg yolk and boiled potatoes, while Melissa could only get the potatoes and both missed venison, tying the teams back at three points apiece.
Josh Wahler, a 26-year-old junior sous chef from Miami Beach, FL, took on Bonnie Muirhead, a 26-year-old nanny and personal chef from Los Angeles, CA, in the third heat. While neither was able to correctly identify lobster, Bonnie nailed both Bok Choy and pear to give the girls a five to three lead.
The final heat set-up Jen versus Vinnie, however as soon as he incorrectly guessed on seared tuna the challenge was lost for the Blue team. The victory marked the Red team's third win in a row.
As their reward, the girls shared a unique experience with Gordon and went "dining in the dark." As their punishment, the guys had to prep both kitchens for that night's dinner service challenge, which Brad thought was a "ridiculous task." However that wasn't all they had to do, as each member of the Blue team also had to chow-down on some beef liver, tongue, pig feet and kidneys for lunch to help "educate their pallets," as Gordon put it. Rock almost ralphed and called it "the most disgusting experience I had in my life."
That night, Hell's Kitchen opened for business and the fourth dinner service challenge began, with Gordon telling both teams that their fate was in the hands of customers who would fill out comment cards to determine the challenge's winner.
Josh began working on the appetizers for the Blue team, however his risotto was not cooked properly and he was yelled at by Gordon for it. Bonnie had a similar fate preparing appetizers in the Red kitchen, as her scallops were overcooked and needed a few extra minutes. As Melissa got in Bonnie's way and confused her even more, Gordon noticed and reprimanded the women for not working as a team.
"Every time you're slow I'm getting yelled at!" said Melissa to Bonnie.
In the Blue kitchen, Josh continued to flounder and Gordon instructed Rock to take the lead, which he gladly did. Forty-five minutes into the service, and the Blue team finally started to push out some appetizers and began to work on the entrees. Vinnie was hoping to "impress" Gordon with his beef wellingtons, but he overcooked the first four that he prepared. Bonnie had similar problems preparing the meat in the Red kitchen and was further chastised by Gordon for providing "dumb blonde answers" to his questions.
Two hours into the dinner service, the Red team had served 14 entrees while Blue had only pushed out six. The Blue kitchen then slowed to an even slower crawl, as Vinnie was further yelled at -- this time for undercooking the Wellingtons.
"Chef Ramsay was on me tonight. He's Hawkeye. He's Oz," said Vinnie. "I kept my own private garbage bin at my station and I had six wellington orders and one chicken in my bin. It was a mistake... it was an expensive mistake."
Meanwhile, although her team had managed to serve more entrees, Bonnie wasn't fairing much better in the Red kitchen. Not only was she becoming increasingly stressed-out about her own Wellingtons, but Melissa was also continuing to add to her confusion. While Bonnie described herself as "rattled," Gordon ordered her team to communicate better.
The Blue team eventually closed its gap to only seven entrees behind Red team's 28 served entrees but then disaster struck -- not only did one customer complain that his fish was salty, but a second customer also complained about an undercooked plate of spaghetti. After learning of the complaints, Gordon declared them to be the final straw: if one more plate got sent back by a patron, regardless of which kitchen it was from, the dinner service would be over. Both teams tried their best but the service eventually ended when the Blue squad served a plate of dry venison and Red team pushed out a cold chicken.
"I'm not cut out to be here. I can't cope with it," said a teary-eyed Bonnie, who called herself a "nanny with a good pallet." "I'm just tired. I don't think I can keep up anymore. I want to go home."
Gordon went through the customers' comment cards and although they "enjoyed a majority of the food," over 65% of them claimed they wouldn't come back because it took so long for the food to be served -- a problem the chef pointed out would sink any restaurant.
Unable to pick a winning team due to the struggles of both, Gordon singled out Rock as "solid" for the Blue team, giving him the chance to nominate Vinnie, Josh or Brad for possible elimination. Gordon then said Jen wasn't "brilliant" but also wasn't "bad," meaning she got to nominate Bonnie, Melissa or Julia for possible elimination.
Back in the loft, Rock and Jen discussed their decision. Rock said he knew the choice he was going to make before the dinner service challenge even began, and now that Gordon gave him the power, he saw his opportunity arise. "My decision is not difficult at all," said Rock. Jen couldn't say the same, as she worried she was "too nice" but decided to "be strong." Vinnie said he "assumed" it would be his head on the chopping block for Blue, while Bonnie was "pretty sure" she would share the same fate.
However once it was time to reveal their nominations, Rock instead nominated Josh -- his arch nemesis -- and told Gordon that he thought Josh had "maxed out his potential" and didn't believe he was an "asset" anymore. Jen then nominated Melissa, citing her belief that she lacked leadership qualities as her reason.
Needless to say, Gordon was "disappointed" in Rock and Jen's nominations and overruled both, instead putting Vinnie and Bonnie up for elimination. While Bonnie admitted her mistakes and assured Gordon she was learning from them, Vinnie described himself as "the most qualified chef" in the competition, causing Gordon to ask for some "humility," which never came. Gordon decided to send Vinnie packing.
"Vinnie talked the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk," explained Gordon. "The bottom line with Vinnie is, he's a crap cook."
Hell's Kitchen 3's fifth episode will air Monday, July 2 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.
(Photo credit Greg Gayne/FOX)
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