Wil the first contestant cut from the fifth season of 'Hell's Kitchen'
By John Bracchitta, 01/30/2009
Wil, a 27-year-old quality-control chef from Elgin, IL, learned the hard way that voluntarily taking the blame for a bad day in the kitchen doesn't earn you much sympathy from Chef Gordon Ramsey.
Following a mediocre reception to his signature dish and his inability to hold his own at the garnish station in the kitchen, Wil was revealed to be the first culinary contestant eliminated from Hell's Kitchen's fifth-season during last night's premiere broadcast of the Fox reality cooking competition.
"I took a risk nominating myself," Wil said following his elimination. "I f----d up tonight, plain and simple. Striking out the fist time up to bat is very, very demoralizing. I feel very humbled right now."
Hell's Kitchen's fifth-season premiere began with the competition's 16 culinary contestants being thrown right into mix and ordered to cook their signature dishes in 45 minutes.
"Chefs establish their reputation across the world on the back of their signature dishes," Gordon told the chefs after the 45 minutes had ended and he prepared to try their dishes.
Carol, a 30-year-old sous chef from Knoxville, TN, was the first contestant to present her dish. While not overly impressed by the presentation of her veal over caramelized onions, the usually hard to please chef was liked the dish and approved of her decision to leave her old job at a beauty salon to enter culinary school.
"Looks like you ended up in the right place, that was delicious," Gordon said. "In terms of flavor, yeah, spot on."
"To have the greatest chef in the entire world say my food is good, I just wanted to dance, I wanted to sing," an excited Carol said later.
Wil presented next and prepared a "rabbit two ways" with braised rabbit and a grilled tenderloin. While Gordon said that the dish was delicious, he added that its presentation was s "zero."
Ji, a 33-year-old private caterer from Palisades Park, NJ presented her miso sake marinated Chilean sea bass next and impressed Gordon as well, especially given that she only had four years of professional cooking experience.
"On tasting that, it looks like you've been cooking for 15 years, it's cooked perfectly," Gordon told her.
Gordon was not impressed with the presentation of the potato and white truffle wrapped Chilean sea bass prepared by Robert, a 29-year-old sous chef from Quogue, NY, or the sauce he prepared along with it.
"That was cooked nicely, however, [the] sauce [is] absolutely disgusting," Gordon told him. "The dish is clumsy, like you."
Lacey, a 24-year-old corporate buffet cook from Charlotte, NC, presented her chicken and blackberries next and was the first contestant to bring out the full fire of Gordon, who spit out her food in disgust.
"That's definitely corporate," he told her. "You serve, they eat. Straight after, they vomit."
Colleen, a 41-year-old cooking school instructor from Papillion, NE, also drew the ire of Gordon, who said that her smoked chicken enchiladas with poblano cream sauce looked like "diapers" before spitting it out in disgust.
"Do you seriously charge $300 to teach people how to make that crap?" he asked her angrily. "I feel like I need some plastic wrap on my ass."
"I teach manners too chef," an agitated Colleen responded.
"Okay. Please, Miss Manners, f--k off, back in line!" Gordon shouted back.
Gordon also criticized Danny, a 23-year-old executive chef from Edgewater, FL, for his "mahi gone bananas" dish, saying that perhaps he had "gone slightly bananas" to create that dish; Giovanni, a 37-year-old executive chef from Destin, FL, saying that he must be "the only executive chef on earth that can't cook rice;" and Seth, a 27-year-old private party chef from New York, NY, whose cinnamon crusted rack of lamb with auburn ratatouille were called "the worst dish I've ever tasted" because he had included honey in the recipe.
Gordon did compliment Ben, a 26-year-old executive sous chef from Chicago, IL, whose pan-seared pecan duck breast "nice," "attractive," and "by far the best dish on the men's team, clearly."
"When Chef said that I had the best dish on the men's team, I knew that I'm a force to be reckoned with," Ben said after the tasting.
Gordon then revealed the fifth-season grand prize -- $250,000 and the position of head chef at a brand-new restaurant at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. NJ.
"[Micahel] Mina is there, [Bobby] Flay is there, Wolfgang Puck is there, and here's the scenario, one of you will be joining them," Gordon told the contestants.
The contestants were then sent to their dorm, with Gordon telling both the men's and women's teams that he was expecting the "best opening night ever" the following day because of his generally positive reception to their signature dishes. He added that each team had to think of their own team names as well. After deliberation, the men decided on "Blues Brothers" while the women settled on "Saffron Sisters," despite Colleen's attempts to change their name to "The Spice Rack."
The following day, the contestants woke up with and got to their kitchens with ten hours until their first dinner service began. While preparing their stations, both teams quickly discovered who their weaker contestants were.
Lacey, a 24-year-old corporate buffet cook from Charlotte, NC, admitted that she didn't have any experience as a line cook, both surprising and disappointing her teammates.
"Lacey's definitely not solid," said Andrea, a 30-year-old line cook from Reading, PA. "She's not even close to ready for this."
Lacey seemed to confirm Andrea's suspicious as she "quit" and ran off to a break room to relax after one of her teammates said her ice cream looked like "turds."
Over at the Blues Brothers' kitchen a similar problem arose when as Seth continually got lost in the kitchen and accomplished little because he had never worked in a restaurant before. Despite his attempts to "put [his] head down and hope not to get in trouble," he did anything but as Giovanni noticed his lack of kitchen knowledge and attentiveness.
"Seth's useless. He's done like two things since this morning," Giovanni said after telling Seth to pay more attention to what was going on.
Prior to opening the restaurant for dinner service, Gordon entered the kitchen and said that each team's cook staff was too large and had Giovanni and Carol act as waiters for the evening, disappointing both.
"I'm a cook, not a server," Carol said later. "So it's gonna be really hard for me to show Chef Ramsey what I've got."
As dinner service got underway, the wheels quickly fell off for both teams. Lacey quickly agitated Coi, a 22-year-old cafe cook from Austin, TX, who started yelling at her when she did not start cooking the souffles on time and asked why she wasn't helping anyone.
"I was gonna help you until you started being such a bitch!" Lacey responded.
"If I get kicked off because of you, I swear to God I'm comin' after you Lacey," Coi responded as she stormed off, and later had to be calmed down by, of all people, Gordon.
Giovanni also showed his inexperience as a waiter, forgetting what was with the polenta when asked by a customer and taking nearly 20 minutes to get his first orders in. As Gordon read the order out to the chefs, Robert screamed out a request over him, angering Gordon so much that he forced Robert to read out the orders himself before telling him not to talk over him again in his own unique way.
"You f----n' interrupt me again and you can go for an early bath. A big one, in a hot tub," Gordon snarled at him.
After yelling at members of both teams for undercooking and overcooking their dishes, Gordon also singled out Colleen for adding additional ingredients to one of his recipes. However, in the middle of the tirade, the kitchen's power went out.
While the restaurant waited to get power back, Carol impressed her customers by "boozing them up" with free wine, while Giovanni did nothing. When power was finally restored, Gordon urged the contestants to put their "bad start" behind them and to "concentrate and get your s--t together." However, both teams incompetence continued, with Colleen trying to cook pasta using a dirty pan and Giovanni forgetting who ordered what appetizers when bringing them out to his customers.
A lamb dish that Seth was cooking was also singled out by Gordon for being improperly cooked, while Colleen's risotto was tasted by him as well and spit out after he called it "frankly the worst risotto I've ever tasted in my entire cooking career."
When questioned by Gordon, Colleen revealed that she had assumed a container of sugar was salt and incorrectly put sugar in the risotto.
Wil singled himself out as one of the weakest male contestants as he continually struggled at the garnish station and eventually needed help by Charlie, a 24-year-old prep chef from Las Vegas, NV, and Robert to get the dishes completed.
"Charlie's on the garnish, Robert's on the garnish, and Wil is on planet cuckoo!" Gordon screamed. "Wil, there's no one cook in the kitchen that hasn't been on the garnish station with you tonight!"
"Being on the receiving end of Chef Ramsey's wrath, yea that sorta sucked," Wil said later.
After three hours of dinner service had passed with only a few entrees making it out of the kitchen to the customers, Gordon ordered that the contestants shut down the kitchen after customers began walking out of the restaurant.
"Pathetic! Absolute embarrassment, utter crap!," Gordon screamed at the contestants.
Because both kitchens performed so poorly, Gordon based his decision on which team had won entirely on its wait staff. Because Carol had 88% of her customers rate her "above average" while 90% of Giovanni's customers rated him "below average," Saffron Sisters easily won the challenge. Ramsey told the Blues Brothers that they had to return to the dorm and nominate two of their teammates for elimination.
While discussing who to eliminate, Wil nominated himself for elimination because of his poor performance. While Seth tried to have Giovanni nominated for his poor service as a waiter, Giovanni immediately shot him down.
"Oh shut the f--k up man, I'm no waiter. That's why I didn't volunteer to wait on f----n' tables,"
While Seth felt he did an adequate job, he was ultimately nominated for elimination as well.
Upon reconvening with Gordon, both Ben, a 26-year-old executive sous chef from Chicago, IL, and Robert pushed for Seth's elimination and questioned his dedication, with Robert saying that he would have taken Wil's place on the chopping block if he had not put himself up for elimination.
Before deciding on who to eliminate, Gordon gave Seth and Wil one last chance to state their case to stay in the competition.
"These guys have known me for 24 hours, and they're telling me that I don't have the heart? F--k that!" Seth said. "I know what you expect. I went to your restaurant, I've read your books. I know who you are. I'm just asking you to give me the opportunity to show you who I am."
"I wanna undo the damage that I've done tonight. You saw me at my worst, I wanna change that," Wil said.
Gordon then eliminated Wil, allowing Seth to stay in the competition.
"I'm still here, whether the team likes it or not," Seth said after surviving elimination. "The restaurant is still mine and I don't care what they say, they can piss off."
The next episode of Hell's Kitchen will air on Thursday, February 5 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.