Hell's Kitchen - Week 2
We’re back for week 2.
The drama begins around 7:30, when a thunderstorm threatens to take my DirectTV out. Fortunately the weather cleared up. I’m sure you’re as happy as I am.
So we begin with the prepackaged Ramsay bio. Yeah, he’s brilliant. Yeah, he’s abrasive. Whatever. And in the previously, we have Ramsay yelling at the nondescript twelve, tidbits from their first dinner service where confusion abounds, and Elsie “betraying” Dewberry.
The remaining 11 go back to the Chef’s Dorms to rest. Dewberry meditates in the camera equipped unisex bathroom and give Elsie a butt-kissing hug when she conveniently exits the stall. Whatever. I mean dude, it didn’t help you twenty minutes earlier. Go make a tart.
The next morning, SousChefs Scott and Maryann wake up the dorms USMC style. OK, not just a little over the top. Please. So at 5:55 am (that’s early?!?), Ramsay gets up in front of a dressed Red team and a Blue team clad in pajamas, sans Chris who shows up 7 minutes later. Oops. Again, whatever. Seriously, this is getting on my nerves. It’s just so…contrived. So Ramsay takes the people into the kitchen and shows them a silver layout and a zucchini. The service is made up of…squid (cue the nauseated reaction from Dewberry the Pastry Chef). Ramsay tells Michael to sit out the challenge to even up the teams. He then shows the teams how to prepare the squid…they have to be suitable for stuffing, meaning cleaned with no holes or tears in the body part of the squid. They have ten minutes to clean up as many squid as possible, with the winners having dinner with Ramsay. That is such a ripoff of one of those Trump non-prizes (hey, you win this challenge and I’ll show you my over the top gilded apartment!). I mean, I’d be tempted to throw it just for that. Anyway after watching ten people work on squid (which was not that exciting, let me tell you, but I do this for you dear readers), the Red team had 6 acceptable squid, including 1 acceptable one from The Plank’s offering of four. That’s five people in ten minutes cleaning six squid in a world class fashion. Hm.
After some artificial drama, we learn the Blue team had 5…the Red team gets to eat with the martinet.
The blue team has to prepare squid during dinner. From where I sit, I’d rather be Blue.
The teams get dressed and go to the kitchen for a training session (like a master class). They get some of Ramsay’s philosophies about cooking (Ramsay says his cooking is “clean! You can eat it blindfolded and identify different flavors!”) and this being devoid of anything that can be manufactured into a drama, the segment goes by quickly. And now it’s dinner time, so the Red team gets to go claim their “prize” while the Blue team stays behind to clean squid. You know, there’s a powerful team building thing in group punishment, and I have a feeling that’s going to happen here. The Plank is talking about having important “face time” with Ramsay, but seriously…that isn’t going to mean squat. But Ramsay is gracious in the way only a Brit can be, even while spouting platitudes.
Bedtime…Jeff is in the hallway moaning. Later he interviews that he had a kidney stone. Swell. I waited through a commercial for a kidney stone?!? The rest of his team is…less than supportive. And so am I. Get lost, Jeff.
Now we talk dinner service. The squid cleaned the previous day appears on the menu. And as the service begins, we get Ramsayisms (You cooked it but you didn’t taste it?!?) and Dewberry The Pastry Chef showing that he can cook pasta. And before the service opens, Ramsay give a pep talk, and caps it off by telling the blue team that because they lost the squid challenge they don’t get air conditioning for the service (along with a story that was supposed to be inspirational, I think…). So they turn the fans off in the blue kitchen, put up a gratuitous sauna thermometer, and commence to cooking. And surprisingly, the restaurant is booked solid…funny what comped meals will do for a service. Much hay is made about how Ramsay’s reputation is on the line here…I think that they’re giving food away for free might impact it more.
The kitchens are late out of the gate but everything seems to catch up pretty well save for some minor hiccups. But then Jeff flubs up some vegetable garnishes…apparently kidney stones means you tend to burn vegetables in a wanton fashion. So in the blue kitchen it’s 140 degrees, and in the red kitchen they have Mr. Kidney burning veggies. There are other minor hiccups but the entire kitchen is in the weeds. A customer decides to complain about his free food being late, and Ramsay tears into him. Good.
Dewberry is “confused.” He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that’s a quote directly from him. When Ramsay calls out two Wellingtons (a lamb dish) and Dewbie says it’s going to be twelve minutes, Ramsay pitches a fit and wonders why the Wellington isn’t rested (you rest meat after you roast it to let the juices redistribute…if you’ve ever bitten into a dry roasted piece of meat swimming in a puddle of juices, that means it wasn’t rested properly). Dewberry says he has no idea. Um, don’t argue with the chef, dude. Unisex hugs won’t help you if you do. So after Ramsay says Dewberry doesn’t care, with Dewberry agreeing, and Ramsay saying he’s useless, with Dewberry again agreeing, Dewberry makes like he’s going to walk out of the kitchen. Don’t do that! You have air conditioning there! What a drama queen. And he turns around and goes back to his station. Oh, and he cries in his interview. Baby.
In the blue kitchen, Andrew and Mary Ellen are sniping at each other. I wasn’t sure what that was about…apparently neither of them can cook a piece of meat.
In a manufactured bit, some customers order in pizza. Weak. And a customer tries to impress the Maitre d’ by saying he has a doctorate in music from the University of Southern California and asks if the Maitre d’ has a doctorate. OK, first of all a PhD in music is, well, not exactly something that’s going to get you a good seat at a restaurant, even if it’s comped. Look, I’ve spent a fair bit of time around professional musicians and there’s a word for people who get doctorates in music. It’s French and it rhymes with hoser. Second, he tries to make a point that the Maitre d’ is “less educated” than he is. OK, let’s look at that. Based on my experience, your average music major is great at lots of book stuff, but everyday stuff tends to elude them. Everyday stuff like, oh, paying rent on time, or understanding that you can’t just take a parking ticket off someone’s car and voila…it’s handled. So frankly, I wouldn’t be bragging about the “high education” of a music PhD (yes, even one from Thornton, although honestly the program is more known for performance than academic disciplines...), especially when doing so does nothing but reinforce the stereotype of arrogance many “uneducated” people have of pompous blowhard Doctors of Music. But then, maybe that was the entire point of this segment. I don’t know. This entire show is so transparent anyway. So the Doctor says because the Maitre d’ is less educated, he shouldn’t be in his face. Puh-leeze. Would you prefer if I get Kenny G to tell you your food isn’t ready? Or maybe John Tesh? Either of them eclipse you in talent, I guarantee you that…and it isn’t exactly a compliment. Then The Music Doctor gets kicked out. Good, he was annoying. Maybe they can get Dewbie to follow him.
And Ramsay closes the restaurant again. Big surprise. But they did better than last night.
So Ramsay says the losing team is…the Red team. Again. What, is Mary Ellen sleeping with the guy? But The Plank gets a compliment from Ramsay for his teamwork, and he has to nominate two team members to get kicked out. Dewberry looks like he doesn’t want to have to hug him. I don’t blame him. Jeff does some fancy talking, and The Plank nominates Dewberry (for threatening to desert the kitchen) and Jeff (there ain’t a place here for kidney stone sufferers! Actually it had to do with The Plank’s amateur psychology.). Ramsay agrees with The Plank and tells him he chose wisely. Cliches come from both Jeff and Dewbie…but ultimately, Ramsay is less impressed with…Dewbie. He calls Dewbie a coward because he deserted his station and the Pastry Chef is gone. What will they have for dessert now? Actually, since not one seating has even made it to dessert so far, I guess it doesn’t matter anyway.
Next week, a trip to The Giant, macho chefs calling each other out, and someone gets moved to the Red Team. Food critics are in the house and risotto threatens to mess up the night. How exciting. How dramatic. How manufactured.
Posted by John Tant at June 6, 2005 09:06 PM
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|# June 6th, 2005 11:13 PM james|
|i watched the first 2 episodes today - i think i'm a bit disappointed. the show is trying to do way too much, it's like they took a little bit from every successful reality show and stewed it all together in a slow cooker.
i'll probably keep watching though, mostly b/c i'm mystified about how the kitchen runs.
|# June 7th, 2005 7:53 AM JohnTant|
|I had a talk about this show with my wife. We're both foodies and we thought we'd like this show a lot. But instead we're both kind of bleh about it.
I think it's because you can't really tell who is doing a good job. I think it's because food is so much more than visual...yeah I can see that a plate looks nice, but then that only goes so far. The food in TV commercials looks nice, but I guarantee you wouldn't want to eat it.
So if I'm going to decide if The Plank can back up his arrogance I kind of need to taste his food. When Ramsay complains that someone's risotto is too crunchy, is he being unrealistic or is the risotto really horrible? Not even the magic that is TiVO can deliver that to me.
On the Apprentice and similar shows you are in a better position to make judgements...you can see that Tana was being unnecessarily evil to her staff, or Craig doesn't interview well. But in terms of something like cooking, I'm afraid it doesn't translate well.
Finally, the schtick is starting to wear thin. Yeah, they all work for a guy who uses abuse to get maximum performance out of the staff. But how exciting is it to watch a chef yell at his staff week after week? It was fun in the beginning because it's novel shock-jock type stuff, but does it have staying power? I really doubt it.