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Welcome to the season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen! Last season, chef Gordon Ramsay screamed, cursed and insulted his way into our hearts. Now he’s back to terrorize a new group of wannabe chefs. Tens of thousands auditioned, but only 12 victims were chosen. Among the chosen ones are a cafeteria chef, a pizza maker and a prison chef. They all think they know what they’re getting into, but they have no clue. This year, the competition for kitchen supremacy will be a battle of the sexes, with the teams split into men and women. The stakes are even higher this year: the winner will get a multi-million dollar restaurant in the new Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas….unless, of course, the winner turns out to be an absolute idiot, in which case Fox will come up with some lame-o substitute prize to foist off on the “winner.”

This season promises to be intense, demanding and full of crying, insults and backstabbing. Hurray! (*does little happy dance*) Before we get started, let’s meet the dozen hopefuls with a death wish.

The Unusual Suspects
Blue Team – The Men
  • Tom, Former Stockbroker
    As we will see, Tom has a bit of a perspiration issue (i.e. he sweats like a freaking pig)
  • Giacomo, Pizza Maker
    Giacomo has a lot of hair. A lot. He also doesn’t seem to be familiar with the concept of a hair net.
  • Garrett, Former Prisoner/Chef
    Garrett thinks that Hell’s Kitchen will be a breeze compared to prison. It’s cute how naÔve Garrett is.
  • Gabe, Marketing Executive
    Gabe’s lack of experience – 6 months of culinary school – caused me to give him the nickname “Dead Meat.” Ramsay is going to eat this guy for breakfast.
  • Larry, Fishmonger
    I don’t have much to say about Larry. Larry doesn’t have much to say about Larry either.
  • Keith, Chef/Bartender
    I don’t have much to say about Keith either. As we will see, he also has sweating issues.
Red Team – The Women
  • Polly, Caterer
    Dead Meat, Part II. Polly has six boys, but I’ll bet that even after five Snickers bars each, they’re still easier to deal with than Chef Ramsay.
  • Virginia, Salad Chef
    Virginia tells us that she thinks Gordon Ramsay is hot. Juuuust kidding. Cut to Ramsay rolling his eyes over footage of Virginia applying makeup before going to work in the kitchen.
  • Rachel, Personal Chef
    1986 called, it wants its hairdo back.
  • Sara, Deli Manager
    Yeah, Sara makes me want to give her a little smack. You’ll see why later.
  • Heather, Sous Chef
    Heather says that she wants to prove that a woman can excel in the kitchen. Based on her performance tonight, that might not be just talk.
  • Maribel, Cafeteria Chef
    Maribel is a Brooklyn girl. That may help her in dealing with Chef Ramsay’s abuse.

Time to Put Up or Shut Up
As the hopefuls arrive, maitre 'd extraordinaire Jean Phillipe welcomes them and uncorks some champagne as the chefs wander around the restaurant checking out their new digs. They all gather in the dining room to toast as Gordon Ramsay makes his way out to kill their dreams. Everyone is talking and laughing until….Ramsay emerges and the frivolity screeches to a halt. Way to kill a mood. Ramsay tells them that they will win by impressing him. If they knew what a tall order that is, some of them would quit now.

The competition begins right away as Ramsay orders the chefs into the kitchen. They’ll have thirty minutes to prepare their signature dishes for his approval. Everyone sprints into the kitchen and gets to work under Chef Ramsay’s watchful eye. This is Ramsay’s first chance to see what they can do. The excitement seems to have gotten to Tom. In trying to open a bottle of wine or champagne, he breaks the bottle neck. Instead of throwing it out, he simply pours some of it into the pot, out of the broken bottle. “Hello? 911? Yeah, I just swallowed some broken glass.” Idiot.

In mere seconds, everyone is assembled in the dining room for their first verbal beating.

But I Mean “Crap” in the Nicest Way Possible
The first victim is Keith and his “Cha-Ching Sesame Crusted Whatsit” Ramsay asks what the hell “cha-ching” is. Although the chefs were supposed to prepare a meal for six, this one looks pretty sparse. Keith explains that it’s light. Ramsay instructs Keith to remove his hat and then dumps half of the food into the hat. Chef Ramsay tells him that the remaining food is HOT and he wouldn’t eat it. That went well. Let’s move on.

Rachel is up next with her butterfly shrimp in chocolate sauce with chili pepper. Ramsay calls it “very weird.” I agree. He says that the prawn is cooked nicely, but there is too much chocolate. In my mind, any chocolate is too much when shrimp is involved.

Ramsay moves on to the next dish. He picks up a ramekin from the platter and holds it up looking mildly horrified. Polly claims the dish, saying that it is “Undone Focaccia Bread.” Why “Undone?” Because it’s not cooked all the way. So it’s dough. Yum. Ramsay tells her he’d rather eat poodle poo (<--- paraphrasing) than this stuff. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I don’t want to eat Polly’s half-cooked crap either.

Larry has prepared crab cakes with an Asian flair. By “Asian” he means that it has soy sauce in it. Ramsay tells him that it’s undercooked and crunchy. Did he shell the crab? Why is it crunchy if it’s undercooked? I’m just alarmed now.

Maribel’s dish is an Argentine plantain soup, which Ramsay spits into the trash. It’s too garlicky, too hot and it looks like baby vomit. I didn’t taste it, so I’m not sure about those first two but, yeah, it looks like puke. I don’t care how good it tastes. If it looks like that, I’m not eating it.

Chef Ramsay tells the chefs that he doesn’t know if he wants to go any further. He says a prayer, telling them that he’s starting to feel sick. After bread dough and baby puke, who can blame him?

Next up is sweaty Tom with his Shrimp Scampi and Caesar Salad. This sounds okay until Ramsay shows us that the salad is cooked. ‘Cause cooked lettuce is some kind of new taste sensation? Chef Ramsay scoops the salad off of the plate and into Tom’s hands. He then takes a taste of the shrimp, which he promptly spits out. Next!

Heather is up to the plate with her chocolate and raspberry empanadas. Chef Ramsay says that they’re too thick on the outside and hard to digest. BUT – even though it’s tough and indigestible, it’s still the best thing he’s tasted so far. If you dig deep enough, there’s a compliment in there.

When asked where he learned to cook, Garrett replies, “Jail.” Garrett tells us that he served time for passing stolen checks. Fed up with eating this horrid food, Ramsay calls Gabe up to taste Garrett’s dish. Whatever it is, Gabe says that it’s a little overdone and he makes like it’s hard to eat. Garrett is steaming, even as Chef Ramsay confirms that it’s dry.

Gabe’s dish is next on the chopping block and Garrett smirks as Chef Ramsay declares the fish raw. He says it should have been called sushi.

After having to eat all of this undercooked, overcooked dog poo, Chef Ramsay is fed up. He calls Sara and Giacomo forward to taste the food. Sara tries Giacomo’s dish and says that she likes it. Ramsay tries it and proclaims it, “Not bad.” That’s like a gold star in Ramsay-speak. Based on that rave review, Giacomo tells us he feels like he has to emerge as a leader.

Unfortunately for Sara, her herb crusted salmon with pasta doesn’t fare so well. Ramsay says that the pasta is overcooked and mushy. Sara tells us she’s happy he didn’t spit it out. Like NOT spitting her food into the trash is a compliment.

Virginia’s pomegranate and celery root salad is last on the menu and Ramsay is even more prickly. He asks Virginia what in her dish was cooked. Basically, she spent 30 minutes toasting the nuts and assembling the salad. It is deemed “fine”…… for rabbit food.

There’s No “I” in Team But there’s an “Eat Me”
Now that everyone is suitably demoralized, Chef Ramsay makes sure they know he plans on pushing them to extremes. One of them will become the executive chef and share in the profits in a multi-million dollar restaurant. They all tell him they are up to the challenge. All evidence to the contrary, of course. To help them along the way will be sous chefs Scott and Mary Ann, Chef Ramsay’s henchpersons from last season. Ramsay explains that the teams will be divided by gender, with Scott working with the men in the blue kitchen and Mary Ann with the women in the red kitchen. Sara says this is an opportunity to show that women can work together without getting bitchy and I say that Foreshadowing is getting a bit obvious with the dialogue here.

The night is just beginning for our baby chefs. They run off to get changed for the next phase of torture. Already, the battle of the sexes is starting. The women are already vowing to make sure the final two will be women.

Once everyone is changed into their chef gear, Chef Ramsay informs everyone that Hell’s Kitchen will be open for dinner tomorrow night. Tonight, they will all be doing the prep work for tomorrow’s dinner service. They won’t be getting much sleep. Ramsay tells us that an organized prep is the key to a successful dinner service.

The prep begins and, in no time, Tom is sweating into the food. As I’ve done with this show before, I swear of restaurant food forever…..or at least until I can get the image of Tom’s sweaty mug hovering over a pan. Ramsay orders Tom to dump the food out and start over. Thanks for that. The women are working well as a team and actually finish the prep early. The men are struggling along and they can’t believe the women are done already.

Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?
The next day, the women are energized after sleeping for more than 20 minutes. The men are exhausted. All of a sudden, it’s 6:53 pm and the diners are about to arrive. Chef Ramsay reminds the chefs that someone is going home before midnight. He then asks for two volunteers. Three of the women immediately raise their hands. Only Giacomo raises his hand on the men’s side…..and really, he raises his hand like Ramsay asked, “Who wants a colonoscopy!?” Giacomo immediately regrets volunteering when Chef Ramsay informs him and Heather that they will be the kitchen “donkeys,” cleaning up their respective kitchens and keeping things organized. Heather, on the other hand, is pumped up about her new role. Rachel tells us that losing Heather as a chef sucks, but they’ll still win.

Like lambs to the slaughter, here come tonight’s diners. They seem oblivious to what is about to happen to them. You’d think that if they watched last season, they’d at least sneak some crackers in. This is going to be a long wait.

In the kitchen, Tom is still sweating and Chef Ramsay orders him NOT to sweat in the food. Amen! As Hell’s Kitchen begins to fill, the first order hits the blue kitchen. Soon, the red kitchen receives their first order as well. Polly and Tom are on appetizers, but while the women are all working to help Polly, Tom is sweating it out all by himself. Only 20 minutes into dinner service, the women present their first appetizers to Chef Ramsay. Why he keeps making people cook risotto on this show I’ll never know. This stuff sticks to the plate like prop food on a movie set: even when he holds the plate sideways, the food doesn’t move. Yum. The risotto goes into the trash and Polly starts again.

The men finish their first appetizer, but Ramsay says that it’s raw and sends it to the trash as Tom starts over. Ramsay is starting (ha) to get pissed and out in the dining room, customers are starting to get annoyed. After 45 minutes, the only food that has reached the customers is bread.

The next plate of risotto that goes up to Chef Ramsay is deemed “too bland” by Polly when Ramsay tells her to taste it. Aaaaand she starts again. Tom has more luck with his next appetizer and someone in the dining room actually gets some food. In no time, the men get out appetizers to three whole tables (like this is a major victory). Unfortunately, just getting served isn’t enough for some people. It seems that Tom left the pumpkin out of the pumpkin risotto. The customer, who clearly has never seen this show before and has no idea who he’s dealing with, heads back to the kitchen to get some pumpkin. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well, unless he was aiming for an offer of a pumpkin suppository.

Premature Celebration
Things go from bad to worse for the men. Dare I say that the men are going down in flames? Tom has now started a fire in the kitchen. The flames are finally put out amid Ramsay’s swearing and yelling, but then the smoke hits and Ramsay continues his tirade.

Things aren’t going any better in the red kitchen: Polly is now on her fourth try with an appetizer. After Polly fails once again, Heather asks Chef Ramsay if she can come into the kitchen. Ramsay agrees and demotes Polly to kitchen donkey. In just three minutes, Heather gets food up to the pass and Ramsay sends it to the dining room. Talk about a turnaround. Sara gives a little cheer and Chef Ramsay immediately gives her the verbal smack-down. One table of appetizers in 2 hours is nothing to be happy about, he scolds.

How are the men? Not so good. It seems that when Tom set fire to the kitchen, some water boiled over and put out the pilot light. Rocket science has been “cooking” with no flame. Could this get any worse? Probably. It’s ninety minutes into dinner service and Larry has been standing in the same place for 89 of those minutes. Ramsay makes the gentle suggestion (in his very subtle and mellow way) that Larry might want to be more lively in the kitchen. It sounded something like, “Move your ass, big boy!” Larry says he’s ready. For Larry, “ready” and “comatose” are somehow right next to each other in the dictionary.

The Main Event….Not Really
Show of hands: if you had to wait 2 hours for a meal, would you? Yeah, me neither. The customers at Hell’s Kitchen must really want to get on TV because they’re still waiting. Virginia and Gabe are working on getting main courses out to the dining room. Gabe’s first attempt at Beef Wellington is no good: the oven wasn’t hot enough and the beef wasn’t done. Virginia’s first attempt at the Beef Wellington isn’t cooked enough either. Ramsay sends both dishes to the trash.

Maribel says that she wishes she was on a hot station and I wonder why Virginia, the salad chef was put in charge of the meat. Ramsay begins to wonder the same thing. Virginia wails about being unprepared and Chef Ramsay says that he just wants some food. Virginia whines that she doesn’t know what to do. In the red dining room, people just want some food. In desperation, Virginia goes into the blue kitchen begging for some lamb stock. She’s laughed back into the red kitchen empty-handed.

We’re now three hours into dinner service and the diners, who have now had plenty of wine, are now chanting, “I want my food!” Why wouldn’t you just leave? Really. Finally, Chef Ramsay can’t take it any more. He shuts down the kitchens and the diners are sent packing with no dinner. Keith – the master of the understatement - says he doesn’t think they killed it to night. He’s a perceptive one, that Keith.

The Best of the Worst
In voice-over, we are told that, never in the history of Hell’s Kitchen have so few customers been served. After that craptastic performance, Chef Ramsay has to choose the “winning” team. It’s like a presidential election: choose the less offensive of two crappy options. Ramsay admonishes the red team for cheering over getting two dishes of appetizers out in two hours. He gives them an appropriate cheer: “C-R-A-P! Crap!” Now that’s a cheer I could get behind. The men were no better. At one point, Chef Ramsay says he looked into the blue kitchen and all he got was blank stares.

Based on the amount of food put out by each kitchen, Chef Ramsay names the blue kitchen the winner. The red team stunk it up big time, with one exception: Heather. She will now have the dubious honor of nominating two of her own for elimination. The men celebrate the fact that they suck less than the women tonight.

Because Heather now has all the power on her team, everyone is trying to get on her good side. Polly says she feels horrible about her performance tonight….and so do I. Heather tells us that she’s ticked off at Sara for cheering over getting two measly entrees out and for constantly telling Chef Ramsay “Two minutes!” whenever he asked for status on an order. Virginia and Heather have a heart-to-heart and Heather reassures Virginia that she doesn’t want her to go home.

Back in the dining room, the men watch comfortably as the women walk to meet the firing squad. Heather tells Chef Ramsay that she has chosen Polly, for her lack of experience, and Virginia. You can almost hear Virginia’s neck snap around at that news. Heather says that she chose Virginia because she didn’t do the best she could. Chef Ramsay has Polly and Virginia step forward and then asks each of them to tell him why they feel they should stay.

Virginia says that she thinks she should stay because she wants to succeed and do better. Polly says that she has the maturity and depth that some of the others don’t. Maybe not the culinary knowledge, but the maturity….isn’t culinary knowledge one of those key things here? Chef Ramsay says that this is a tough decision because both of them should go. In the end, Ramsay eliminates Polly. He reminds her that she couldn’t get anything out of the kitchen in 90 minutes. Polly tells us that her family will be surprised at her early elimination because they expected her to kick butt.

Chef Ramsay says he’s feeling anxious because of what’s at stake. None of these competitors deserve the prize at this point. He wants to see desire and passion…..and the ability to cook anything. Ramsay sends them all to bed where they will, undoubtedly, get 45 minutes of sleep before being awakened by clanging pots. Ramsay tells us that this will be a journey to Hell and back to find the right person.

Stay tuned for the recap of the second half of the Hell’s Kitchen season premiere!

Critical@fansofrealitytv.com ate Frosted Flakes for dinner and she’s not ashamed to admit it.