'Hell's Kitchen 3' sends Jen Yemola home, reveals Top 2 finalists
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/31/2007
Jen Yemola, a 26-year-old pastry chef from Hazelton, PA, became the tenth wannabe chef and restaurateur eliminated from the third season of Fox's Hell's Kitchen during last night's broadcast that also revealed the culinary competition series' Top 2 finalists.
Bonnie Muirhead, a 26-year-old nanny and personal chef from Los Angeles, CA, and Rock Harper, a 30-year-old executive chef from Spotsylvania, VA, will now try to prove to foul-mouthed culinary king Gordon Ramsay they have what it takes to win Hell's Kitchen 3's grand prize -- the position of head chef at a new Italian restaurant at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.
Hell's Kitchen 3's ninth episode began after the previous dinner service challenge that saw Ramsay eliminate both Julia Williams and Josh Wahler, however the three remaining finalists felt more upset about Julia's departure. Bonnie described it as if she were "gutted," while Rock felt "really sad" and "proud" of Julia. He also used the time to apologize to Jen for their bickering during the previous dinner service, offering her a hug and telling her he's a "firm believer in trying to clear the air."
The next morning, Gordon told the finalists his "No. 1 mentor" as a chef is his mom (or mum, depending on which side of the Atlantic you're from). He then revealed the next reward challenge, taking one of America's classic comfort food dishes and transforming it into a gourmet meal. Each of the three finalists would have one of five classic dishes to unknowingly choose from and then get one hour to use everything in the Hell's Kitchen restaurant pantry to turn it into something more elegant.
Bonnie picked franks and beans, Jen chose fried chicken and Rock selected spaghetti and meatballs. As the finalists began to prepare their dishes under the watchful eye of Gordon and his mom, Bonnie was immediately confused about what to do with franks and beans until she received some inspiration from the items in the pantry. Meanwhile Jen struggled with not wanting her fried chicken dish to be "plain," while Rock wanted to give his spaghetti and meatballs dish "depth and range."
Bonnie did an "Italian version" of beans and franks, with mini-bruschetas and a mushroom cream sauce; Rock prepared a "study of spaghetti," which included a cream sauce, veal as well as spicy chorizo and pork dish; and Jen stuffed her fried chicken with crab meat, spinach and goat cheese. Gordon then revealed that each of the finalists' moms would be serving as a special guest judge for the challenge, deciding which of the dishes they like best. However the moms wouldn't know which finalist created which dish, meaning they couldn't play favorites.
"We haven't seen or been able to talk to our parents in weeks," said Bonnie. "To see my mom, that was reward enough for me."
After all the moms tested each of the dishes, they discussed their favorites with Gordon and his mom. Jen received all three moms' votes, making her the challenge's winner.
"I can't believe that they all picked my dish," said Jen following her victory. "That means me being here is not a joke and I do have some talent... I just need to really feed it and nurture it."
For her reward, Jen and her mom Carol got to go out for lunch with Gordon and his mom. Jen also received a $1,000 kitchen equipment shopping spree. Rock and his mom (who is also named Carol) as well as Bonnie and her mom Joyce had a moment to hug and talk briefly before they were handed their punishment, which required them to clean-up the dorms the Hell's Kitchen 3 contestants have been calling home.
While Rock and Bonnie initially bickered as they cleaned, Rock eventually admitted it "wasn't that bad" working with Bonnie even though he described her as a "diva and drama queen" who's "moody and bossy." When Jen returned from her reward, Rock was happy for her, but knew the grand prize was still up for grabs.
"Great for Jen... Great for Jen," he said. "But tomorrow, ain't no great for Jen. Great for Rock."
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Rock, Jen and Bonnie awoke bright and early the next morning to begin prepping for that night's dinner service. Gordon informed them that in addition to having their normal duties of running a station, each would have an opportunity to run the "pass," the job normally done by Gordon where the food is expedited from the kitchen to the customers.
"This is where it separates the difference from a cook to a leader," said Gordon. "This is a very serious task. You run the kitchen, or the kitchen runs you."
Before each chef got to run the pass for real during the dinner service, they had the chance to try-out their leadership skills with Gordon. Bonnie went first, and berated Gordon good with her cursing (a vein was even throbbing on the side of her neck). Rock went next and his first attempt at talking smack to Gordon was weak, but he did better on his second try. Jen just dropped a bunch of f-bombs and Gordon told her she sounded like a "drunk country western singer." She was a little better during her second attempt.
Hell's Kitchen 3's ninth dinner service challenge commenced, and along with the three remaining finalists, the restaurant's sous chefs Scott Leibfried and MaryAnn Salcedo also worked at different stations to fill-in the gaps. The service started off on a good note with Gordon running the pass before it was Jen's turn to step into that role.
However what she didn't know was that Gordon and Scott were planning on sending some sabotage dishes up to the pass to see if the finalists could quickly identify the mistakes. While Jen was good at barking orders to her staff, she didn't realize Scott had sent her spaghetti with no crab, and Gordon promptly yelled at her for it. But she sent back some salty risotto, which gave her a "burst of confidence." Rock said it was a "little difficult" with Jen working the pass because she's "not experienced" at it.
With appetizers and entrees being served at a good pace, it was time for Rock to try his hand at the pass. He immediately spotted a sabotaged monk fish but failed at being able to get orders out on a timely manner. Bonnie thought Rock was a "little slow," and Gordon agreed.
Half of Hell's Kitchen restaurant's patrons still needed to be fed when Bonnie took over the pass, and Rock couldn't help but notice she was "all over the place" when giving orders. However Bonnie was ruthless when it came to catching mistakes, sending back Jen's risotto and questioning her friend's pallet. Gordon then took control of the pass for the remainder of the dinner service, which went smoothly.
"Tonight has been our best ever service in Hell's Kitchen. Every appetizer, every entree, every dessert... I'm really proud of you," said Gordon. "You just confirmed why you are the last three. It was good, it wasn't perfect."
He added while each of the finalists "handled" the pass, they all had "highs and lows." Gordon then informed them he'd be basing his decision on how they performed at the pass as well as how they operated their station. He sent them back to the dorms while deliberating his decision on who to eliminate. Jen immediately questioned if Bonnie's heart was in the right place, and Bonnie assured her it was despite being "terrified." Jen thought she and Rock were more deserving of being the final two.
The three finalists then met Gordon back in the kitchen, and he asked each why they felt they deserved to remain in the competition. Bonnie felt she had grown with every dinner service; Jen said she "lives for food" and "loves learning;" while Rock also acknowledged his growth as a chef and person before reiterating his desire to finish in first.
"This is a tough decision," said Gordon before telling Rock he was one of the two finalists. "Bonnie and Jen... This is extremely difficult." He then eliminated Jen. "You have done so well," he told her. "Your enthusiasm and your drive for food is extraordinary. Bloody well done. You have nothing to feel ashamed about. Don't you dare stop. Keep your head high."
"I'm from a small town and things like this don't happen to us every day," said Jen. "I'm going to be successful, I know I am. I tried so hard and I sacrificed so much so far... It just wasn't enough."
Gordon then surprised Rock with a visit from his wife and Bonnie with a visit from her mom and dad.
"Think they'll give me a conjugal?" Rock asked his wife. "I hope so," she responded."
Hell's Kitchen's next episode will air on Monday, August 6 at 9PM ET/PT and feature Bonnie and Rock redesigning a section of the restaurant; creating their own menus; scouting their potential home in Las Vegas; and picking from a pool of previous contestants to work on their team for the final dinner service challenge.