Fox's 'Hell's Kitchen 3' sends none of its remaining finalists home
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/03/2007
Melissa Firpo ran the all-female Red kitchen like a dictatorship and was also responsible for serving one of the most pathetic looking dishes in Hell's Kitchen history during last night's fifth episode of the Fox reality competition series' third season.
But instead of giving the 29-year-old line cook from New York, NY the boot, foul-mouthed culinary king Gordon Ramsay decided to give her one last chance by making her the fourth member of the all-male Blue team, meaning none of the seven remaining wannabe chefs and restaurateurs were eliminated.
Hell's Kitchen 3's fifth episode began with Josh Wahler, a 26-year-old junior sous chef from Miami Beach, FL, explaining how he felt he "did not deserve" to be nominated for elimination by Rock Harper, a 30-year-old executive chef from Spotsylvania, VA, following the last dinner service. It was the second time Rock had nominated Josh for elimination, and gave the reason that Josh "tries to go so fast sometimes" and he "trips" himself up.
"Josh is the worst of us," said Rock. "He doesn't have a chance unless I fall flat on my face."
While Brad Miller, a 25-year-old sous chef from Scottsdale, AZ, was trying to remind Josh and Rock that they were all a team, Bonnie Muirhead, a 26-year-old nanny and personal chef from Los Angeles, CA, felt like the "elephant in the room" out of the four remaining women. Melissa described Bonnie as a "failure ready to happen," a sentiment that Bonnie didn't think was too far from the truth.
"Maybe I just don't have what it takes to be here," she said.
The next morning, the seven remaining wannabe chefs and restaurateurs were ushered outside of Hell's Kitchen's restaurant where Gordon informed them they'd be cooking for a wedding reception during the upcoming dinner service challenge, which Bonnie realized was a "once in a lifetime event" and was nervous about screwing it up. But before they began cooking, Gordon informed them each team would receive $100 and have 30 minutes to buy food to prepare an appetizer, fish plate and meat dish for the reception.
As both teams frantically rushed through a market, Melissa immediately butted heads with Jen Yemola, a 26-year-old pastry chef from Hazelton, PA, who wanted to purchase lamb for the Red team's meat option while Melissa wanted to purchase duck. They ultimately decided on the duck. Both teams pinched every penny and made it to the check-out in time, and while the Red team came in at $97.50, the Blue team was at $137.28, meaning they had to return some of the food, which they did and brought their total down to $99.59.
Each team then had one hour to prepare their three dishes, which would be tested by the actual bride and groom -- Carlota and Cyrus -- who would choose which they wanted to have served at the wedding reception the following day. When Julia Williams, a 28-year-old short-order cook from Atlanta, GA, asked Bonnie for advice, Melissa butted in, telling Julia she was supposed to listen to her and not Bonnie. The Blue kitchen was working much more like a democracy, using teamwork as a mantra to discuss every aspect of their dishes while Melissa continued to bark orders in the Red kitchen.
With time expiring and the girls arguing, Rock overheard and celebrated the return of "Hell's Bitches," hoping they would fall apart. Only two minutes remained when Melissa commented the duck was overdone, which Julia blamed on Melissa. Time expired and Gordon asked the teams if they had used their time wisely, and the Red team couldn't help but answer "No" and single out Melissa for her bossiness. Gordon was disappointed and singled out Melissa as well.
"I didn't put you in charge," said Gordon to Melissa. "You're standing there acting like some jumped-up little cavewoman. Today's challenge, quite frankly, was a team effort." Carlota and Cyrus then arrived in the restaurant and readied themselves to try the dishes. "Chef I don't think that we should serve them our food," said Melissa to a visibly embarrassed Gordon, who reminded her she was not going to ruin the bride and groom's big day and reprimanded her with a "do as your told."
Appetizers were the first dish presented, with the Blue kitchen preparing a crab in a grape sauce while the Red kitchen prepared a puff pastry with cheese and strawberries. Cyrus thought the girls pastry was "very good" but "very dessert-like" and the Blue team's appetizer was chosen. For their fish, the girls prepared a sea bass with collared greens cured in bacon, while the guys also served a sea bass, only theirs was herb-crusted with a vegetable broth and butter sauce. Carlota thought Blue's bass was "a little bit strange" and Red's dish won.
However a problem arose again when it was time to present the meat dishes, as Melissa wouldn't allow Jen to serve the Red team's duck. "Melissa, I don't know what you're trying to do, whether you're trying to upset our guests," said Gordon. "But right now, I'm starting to get pissed." As the lid was lifted from the Red team's duck, a dry piece of meat sat on the plate. Bonnie said she was "humiliated" and wanted to "disintegrate." Jen described the dish simply as a "duck breast." Gordon said he was "deeply embarrassed," and Jen just hoped everybody didn't think she cooked it.
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Meanwhile the guys served a pan-seared rib eye with wild mushroom cream sauce, which Carlota called "delicious." Cyrus thought the duck was "really tough," and the men won their first challenge. "Two things are happening right now. Number one, we finally got a win and we feel great about it," said an excited Josh. "Number two, it's open hunting season on chicks and we're about to start picking them off one by one." Gordon apologized to Carlota and Cyrus and assured them nothing like the Red team's duck would be served at their reception.
"You four 'Hell's Bitches'... I am embarrassed," said Gordon to the Red team. "I don't think I've ever, ever been so embarrassed inside this restaurant in my entire life! That was a joke! You should be ashamed!" For their punishment, the girls would have to work with Carlota and Cyrus' wedding planner to decorate the entire Hell's Kitchen restaurant for the wedding reception. As for the Blue team, Gordon told them "bloody well done" and rewarded them with a trip to a luxurious spa.
Before they began decorating, Jen, Bonnie and Julia discussed how Melissa ruined their meat dish by overcooking it. Bonnie said the girls were going to "have a mutiny," while Julia told Melissa she was doing "a whole lot of talking and not enough cooking." Bonnie said Melissa made her "feel like an asshole." Melissa placed the blame on them all, claiming "everybody forgot how to cook tonight." Julia said that wasn't true and added there "was a lot of disrespect going on."
The Red team continued to bicker with Melissa as they decorated the restaurant while the Blue team relaxed at the spa. Melissa couldn't keep her nose out of the other girls' business, constantly asking them if they needed help in an effort to make things go quicker. Jen, Bonnie and Julia were visibly frustrated and annoyed with Melissa. When Bonnie commented Melissa's nagging was going to make a blood vessel in her forehead burst, Melissa seemed surprised at how much Bonnie sounded like Gordon.
The next day as Carlota and Cyrus prepared to exchange their vows at their wedding, the Blue and Red kitchens began to get ready for the fifth dinner service challenge, which would include the guys' appetizer and meat as well as the girls' fish dish. Melissa wandered into the Blue kitchen and peppered Rock with questions about how to make the potato side-dish for the rib eye, and Rock thought she was "over complicating" it.
"If Melissa was on my team, a very dark side of me would come out," said Rock. Melissa then proceeded to burn the potatoes and tried to blame Rock, who in-turn assured Gordon his potatoes were properly cooked. "That bitch is crazy!" said Rock of Melissa. Gordon gave Melissa a second chance with the potatoes, and she burned them once again.
"Will you stop panicking and just listen!" pleaded Gordon with Melissa. "If you just shut the f**k up for 30 seconds you might learn something! They're all black! They're all oxidized, and it's going to f**king poison somebody!"
With the wedding over Carlota and Cyrus arrived for the reception with their guests, and Gordon yelled at Melissa once again, this time for not applauding when the bride and groom entered the restaurant. Jen then had to start the potatoes from scratch and compensate for Melissa's mistake as the bride and groom ordered their appetizers. As Josh asked Brad for some help with the pea risotto to serve Carlota and Cyrus, Gordon explained nothing else could be pushed out until the bride and groom were served. Because the Blue kitchen was having problems with the risotto, the Red kitchen's timing was all screwed up as it had to wait.
Thirty minutes into the reception and Carlota and Cyrus had their appetizers, which they seemed to enjoy. As the rest of the guests began to receive their appetizers, Gordon complimented Julia for tasting things before serving them, a sign of a good chef. Hell's Kitchen history was then made as all of the appetizers were served within the first hour of the dinner service -- but it was only going to get more difficult -- as the challenge of serving a wedding reception was that all of the dishes must go out at the same time, with Gordon testing the contestants' timing.
However Melissa continued to have difficulties and Gordon commented it seemed like she had "switched off," deciding to officially put Jen in Red's leadership role and asking her to be more assertive with her teammates. A minor problem in the Blue kitchen with Josh working too fast and causing a hitch in the service's timing slowed things a bit, but it was nothing compared to what was happening in the Red kitchen, as Melissa spilled the sauvignon in water and ruined it. She then asked Brad if she could have Blue's sauvignon, and for some reason didn't understand that if she took the guys' portion they wouldn't have any. Gordon saw Melissa in the Blue kitchen and wasn't pleased.
"Get out of here you! Get out!" he yelled at her. "If you take theirs then they run out! Oh piss-off you little sabotage!" Melissa seemed confused at Gordon's "sabotage" comment, adding she wants the chef to be "happy," not "screaming in my ear."
The Red kitchen was able to overcome Melissa's problems throughout the evening and everybody at the wedding reception was fed every course, another first for Hell's Kitchen. After wishing Carlota and Cyrus the best of luck and presenting them with a honeymoon gift, Gordon informed the Blue team that they had finished three minutes ahead of Red, meaning they were the winners of the fifth dinner service challenge.
"Jen, your workload was phenomenal," said Gordon, giving her the task of nominating two of her Red teammates for elimination.
Melissa told Jen she felt as if she wasn't getting back what she was giving to people and was "not ready to go home." Melissa then somewhat correctly stated that the Red team wouldn't have made it through the first three challenges -- all of which they won -- if it hadn't been for her. While Jen said she was "pretty sure" Gordon would eliminate Melissa, she was unsure who else should be nominated -- Bonnie or Julia -- and called it a "very difficult decision" and was "unsure" what to base it on.
At the elimination, Gordon asked Jen who she nominated, with Melissa being the first name she gave. "I feel it's important to recognize your mistakes instead of trying to blame everybody else for them," said Jen as to why she nominated Melissa. Jen then nominated Bonnie, explaining while she did an "impeccable service today," in past services she "wasn't on point." Melissa was the first to defend herself.
"I've been in this business for 10 year, I know a lot of things that maybe some girls on our team aren't sure of," she said. "I kind of felt like I had to carry everybody. I do not intend to be a dictator... That is not my objective." Bonnie then explained how she felt she was just starting to scratch the surface on her potential and the chef inside her was just starting to emerge.
"Melissa, give me your jacket," said Gordon. "You madam, are going to the men's team. Take your jacket off... Now listen carefully. Perhaps with a change of environment, you can really start shining." The guys did not look happy, and Bonnie was told to re-join the Red team, much to Jen's relief. "Melissa, this is your very last chance," said Gordon.
"I think that being on the boy's team is kind of like starting fresh," explained Melissa. "I don't have to help or carry anybody, and I'm totally ready to kick the Red team's ass."
"I've never seen anybody go from being a strong chef to such a terrible chef so quickly," said Gordon. "And that's why tonight, I'm giving Melissa one more chance. Her only hope now is that she fits in better with the boys then she did with the girls."