We’re down to the final three, and we know from the ads that we have “surprise guests” coming this week. I’m predicting family members just because they’ve done this in prior seasons, and it is a nice way to try to make us care about the contestants, think about them with people outside of the show, and hopefully pull for our favorites – or at least not think that this whole show is just an exercise in “who can still cook while undergoing a verbal assault by Chef Ramsay”.
Paula’s mom and sister show up, Andrea’s mom and cousin, and Danny’s dad and girlfriend Andrea. At least Danny has a girlfriend, but it struck me as odd that all of the contestants brought their parents’ on the show as their next of kin. Danny’s dad looks like a clean-cut version of Danny. Andrea looks just like her mom, but Paula doesn’t look anything like her mom or sister, and I immediately wonder if she’s adopted. It was sweet, but for some reason I’m left with the feeling that we’re supposed to think “we need to find some men for Paula and Andrea.”
The chefs aren’t cooking for their families this season. The ten minute family visits were just for motivation, and seemed to work well towards that. The three finalists then all have a group hug. There have been plenty of shows where the finalists would rather punch each other than give each other a hug. I think this season’s finalists are all emotionally mature enough to see beyond the competition and have bonded with their fellow-contestants. Especially Paula and Andrea, who seem like genuine friends at this point, which is ironic given that they were the only survivors of Hell’s Bitches team on the kitchen.
For this 13th episode of the season and with 13 contestants gone, the contestants are lucky enough to get to make whatever they want for the early challenge. They now have 90 minutes to make one signature dish to serve to 100 mystery guests. Paula is feeling confident about her dish, and Danny isn’t worried about his seafood and fruit concoction. Paula sees Danny as her biggest competition because he stays calm under pressure, but Andrea lets pressure get to her. Chef Ramsay notices that Andrea is “in the weeds” as they say and doesn’t have her dishes ready when the guests arrive. The mystery guests are 100 of the top chefs from Los Angeles, all wearing chefs whites. They introduce themselves, and many of them are executive chefs and some owners, many holding Michelin stars and James Beard award winners.
Paula served poached sturgeon with a garnish of arugula. I giggle whenever I hear arugula because I think of the scene in My Blue Heaven where Steve Martin’s character, a New Jersey mobster in witness protection hiding in Arizona and was trying to get arugula in his new grocery store, and explaining it to a produce clerk who had never heard of such a thing. It’s a leafy green veg-a-table, look it up!
Danny also served fish- blackened halibut with basmati rice, and he channels Ben with his rambling on description. For some reason, we don’t even see Andrea’s description of her dish, but it looks like squash. I’m assuming that she got it done and served, but for some strange reason never see it and don’t even know what protein she used.
For some reason, 76% of the chefs are voting the exact same way, with the same “worst dish” and the same “best dish” selections. Maybe the chefs of Los Angeles have some type of quality and standards monthly meetings to get on the same page. Either that or 24% of the chefs there have no since of taste and one dish was clearly the best and another was just plain awful.
Over 76% of the chefs picked Danny’s dish as the worst, even worse than Andrea’s apparently completed and served squash dish. Paula had the winning dish, and I think it was her first individual win. Paula wins the Hollywood makeover prize, and we find out she’s from Brazil because Ramsay tells her she’s getting a wax. This makeover is in anticipation of the second part of her reward, usually some type of media event. I don’t even want to speculate what type of media event would require someone to get a Brazilian wax in preparation – ouch and yuck.
Andrea and Danny need to clean the dining room, do the kitchen linens laundry, and prep for the service. Andrea predicts to Paula that she will be in a magazine spread (Andrea must have been a viewer, as she knows the game) and gives her a high five. It’s nice she can be happy for the competition. Danny is sulking because of his miserable performance, and Andrea notices it’s the first time she’s really seen Danny so broken down.
Jean Phillipe arrives in a limo to take Paula to her makeover. In the limo, JP flirts with Paula, telling her she doesn’t really need anything done, but that Ramsay wants her to “sparkle.” JP asks what Paula does in her spare time and they talk about exercise. JP leans in and Paula is grinning like the Cheshire Cat. We find out that JP is also single, they talk about how it is hard to meet people outside of the restaurant industry (likely due to their work hours), and that JP is not planning to move back to Europe, and then we get a Hell’s Kitchen first – romantic connection editing, with harp music and soft lighting. How odd.
Paula gets some nearly imperceptible highlights, nails, makeup, but doesn’t look that much different than before. We aren’t shown a Brazilian wax, and so hopefully she declined.
Andrea and Danny are ironing the kitchen linens. Danny is sulking around, but they keep working.
Due to some confusing timing, Paula needs to try to maintain her makeover look overnight. The next day, Ramsay picks her up early in a limo to go to an airing of LA Live tv show on the LA Fox affiliate. She looks good.
Danny and Andrea are cleaning the kitchen, and they get to watch the tv show while it’s airing. Andrea looks genuinely happy to see Paula getting the spotlight. Danny says he’s sorry he missed out on the opportunity for good PR and that America missed out on an opportunity to see his pretty face. It’s good to see that Danny is done sulking and back to his usual cocky self. Paula looks nervous on the tv spot, but does ok and has Ramsay there to be his sparkly self.
They were on tv for 6 minutes, but Paula didn’t think it was that long.
JP stops by to check on the cleaning progress in the kitchen and mentions that the tv screen looks clean, but that it is “not as shiny as when Paula was on the screen.” Is there really a mutual attraction there? Wouldn’t that be something, fans of the Bachelor, if we manage to get a reality tv show romance starting from this cooking show when untold seasons of the Bachelor (and all but one season of the Bachelorette) have yet to produce a lasting relationship? Then perhaps we can see a new show with Gordon Ramsay acting as a matchmaker. Hell’s Dating Service, perhaps? I want co-producer credits if Fox adds that show to its lineup next fall.
Andrea welcomes Paula back to the kitchen, where even Danny agrees that Paula’s appearance on tv was sweet.
They are preparing for dinner service and Ramsay tells us that they will take turns yelling the pass. Sous chefs Scott and Gloria will help out in the kitchen because they have a full house and only 3 chefs. Scott and Gloria will also be sabotaging the orders when contestants are manning the pass.
Chef Gloria fooled Paula by substituting squash puree instead of carrot puree. Scott tries to send spinach soup instead of watercress soup, but Paula catches it. Paula improves her barking skills, does ok, and then it is Danny’s turn.
Danny states that he runs the pass every night at his restaurant and he should do fine with this. Ramsay sabotages Danny’s first ticket by giving him an appetizer order for a party of 5 with only 4 appetizers. I wouldn’t necessarily think that was an error because not everyone eats appetizers every night. Danny’s voice cracks like Peter Brady. Gloria successfully plates raw potatoes past him, but he rallies and gets his act together.
Andrea’s turn at the pass and Ramsay instructs her to run the brigade. Andrea says she’s not afraid to put on her “assertive panties.” They show happy customers. Chef Scott slips her halibut instead of John Dorrey, and Andrea fails her first quality control test. Andrea then starts picking on everything, screaming at Scott. Andrea was all over Chef Scott, and even Paula says Andrea was “riding him like a donkey.” Scott says he’s going to punch her if she doesn’t lay off.
Ramsay tells the group that they’ve had their best dinner service. He’s even smiling. He charges the finalists with trying to picking who should go. Andrea thinks that Danny should go because he wasn’t great at the pass. Danny accurately states that Andrea wasn’t that great at the pass because she was nit-picking at finding fault for the sake of it, rather than catching genuine errors.
Andrea and Danny have nominated each other to leave, putting Paula in a bad position of having to pick between her friend, Andrea, and Danny, who is clearly a superior chef. Paula actually makes the tough but ethical call of saying that Andrea deserves to leave, even though she would probably have an easier time winning in the finals against Andrea. We get to see a black and white montage of Andrea’s best moments on the show, and she leaves with class. Let’s just hope that next week when former contestants return to help out the final two that she doesn’t hold a grudge against Paula and try to upstage and sabotage her, like Julia did a couple seasons ago when she felt she should have been in the finals. That really wrecked the goodwill that Julia had built up over the season. Andrea strikes me as someone who has watched the show before, so hopefully she can finish professionally. Count on the show to play up the drama, however, as I’m sure those two will be paired up, with Ben returning to help Danny.
Paula and Danny have been the obvious final two for weeks now, as they have consistently been the strongest chefs. They’re both among the quieter contestants, not yelling their heads off. They’re both young. They’re both from Florida. We’ll find out next week whether Danny or Paula will be working at Borgota. Join us then.