It's been a few week's since I've checked in on the very nasty Chef Ramsey to see how he and his protégées are making out on Fox's Hell's Kitchen.
And so I checked in on Tuesday evening, 7/11/05, to find out that I would be treated to TWO Hell's Kitchen shows.
On the first episode, it was as normal, in that there were two teams. Each team was given their own menu and whatever menus customers chose most frequently from would be the winning team.
This episode piqued my interest only because it is the first time I watched the show and became hungry - my benchmark for successful cooking shows.
Which means only that as I'd lamented the absence of it before, this cooking show has finally got around to featuring real cooking. Before this night of my view most of Hell's Kitchen as I remembered consisted of the vaunted Chef Ramsey cussing and yelling at his chargelings.
The second episode on this same evening was much more interesting, because this episode was the first with only the final five, Ralph, Elsie, Jessica, Jimmy and Michael.
By the time these reality shows get down to a final five they get more interesting, at least to this Grandmother Blogger. By the time the viewer is watching the final five who've survived the many gimmicky and dramatic eliminations, these final contenders have a personality that has become clearer over the prior weeks.
Jessica, who was eliminated on this second episode, might well have been sabotaged by another finalist, Michael. For Jessica, a hip and happening young woman who knew how to cook, seemed to have lost her filets. With 47 orders waiting, she only could find two. Ah. But Michael, it would seem, knew right where the filets were. He retrieved them. Chef Ramsey praised Michael endlessly and berated Jessica mercilessly.
Now why would Michael, who had nothing to do with cooking those filets, know where they had disappeared to?
Elsie, also a happening young woman, was charged with performing cooking at tableside. She had to make Caeser salad and a dessert concoction designed by Ramsey and taught how to flambé by Ramsey earlier in the episode.
I was quite impressed with how Elsie handled her duties, being totally new to the prep of the salad and the flambé fruit affair as instructed by Ramsey. She wasn't very good at it but in due course she mastered the efforts, and provided entertainment to the waiting restaurant customers as well. At one point a churlish customer demanded that Elsie come back and chop up his lettuce to a finer texture. While she grumbled to the maitre d', Else handled the customer with a smile and a graciousness. "It's about what you want," Elsie told the customer who couldn't cut his own lettuce, a smile lighting up her bemused face.