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TV Review: Hell’s Kitchen

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For the past three summers, Fox has whipped up a deliciously spicy little reality treat, Hell’s Kitchen, starring the inimitable Gordon Ramsay as a complete and utter SOB.

The premise is simple: take 16 chefs (or wanna-be chefs) that want a big time restaurant of their own, make them work together in a restaurant while yelling at them every second of the day and night, and kick one off the show every episode, last person standing gets the restaurant.

It’s Survivor but with Simon Cowell replacing Jeff Probst and getting to be judge, jury, and executioner. Hell’s Kitchen does not play at letting the audience decide who will be eliminated, that choice rests with Gordon Ramsay alone.

On June 4, the third season of Hell’s Kitchen started up, and Ramsay was back to his old ways, ridiculing all 16 chefs, finding the weak members of the pack and picking them off. The teams were separated into the now traditional men versus women, and informed that the restaurant would open the next night.

True to form, once the restaurant opened, Ramsay was disgusted by the way the chefs were performing and shut down the kitchen and restaurant before even finishing serving the appetizers for all the tables. This ought not to have come as a surprise to the diners, as this happens every season, but more than a few seemed shocked by the poor quality of service. Ramsay declared the losing team to be the women, due to their inability to talk to one another, a huge pet peeve of the Chef’s, and to fry an egg. Ramsay, for some reason we are not privy to declares Melissa to be “the best of the worst” and asks her to nominate two people to be booted off the show.

Melissa meets individually with members of her team; everyone she speaks to wants Julia nominated because she’s a short order cook at a Waffle House (how do these people not like Waffle House?). Instead, Tiffany and Joanna are nominated, the first for not being able to fry an egg and the second for her lack of communication.

Nominating Tiffany is just wonderfully fun, because Melissa had specifically promised Tiffany during their conversation that she was safe, that there was no way she would be going home that night. Then, of course, Melissa nominated her. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay booted Tiffany. What a great opening backstab to the season. And, the true genius of it is that no one heard Melissa tell Tiffany she was safe, and so no one knows just how two-faced Melissa is.

Some would argue that Ramsay is overly cruel and relishes his role a little too much. I completely disagree. As the season progresses, Ramsay will start to show a softer side and will start to talk to and open up to the contestants. Don’t think that he’s just playing at being tough up front though, he may open up to people later, but he’ll still flay them if they disappoint in the kitchen.

If there was a weakness to last night’s episode, it’s that it traded a little too much on knowledge of previous seasons. The rules, regulations, and procedures were not fully explained. There really isn’t a lot to understand, but to help bring in new audience members, it might have behooved the show to do a little bit more of an introduction.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
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  • JJ

    I’m so happy that Hell’s Kitchen is back. My daughter & I have been waiting anxiously for it to return – we love it. This is an interesting group of “up coming new Chefs”. So far the emotional side of these contestants have gotten the best of some of them but I think they are just very nervous to be working so close to Chef Gordon Ramsay. I think they look up to him, respect his expertise & knowledge but are sort of scared of him so they blow it by letting their feelings take over. The girls are getting it together now tho & hopefully the guys will step up to the plate soon. I see a couple of really good ones in the whole group that I feel will shine in the next few weeks. Good luck to them all. We love Chef Ramsay & we don’t want him to change a thing about himself.