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It’s finally here, people! All of our perseverance has paid off! Yep, it’s the finale of Hell’s Kitchen where we’ll finally find out who the least sucky chef will be….and who will “win” their own restaurant (i.e. become the pseudo-Head Chef of a restaurant where they will have no actual control).

Because the producers have to fill two whole hours of time and there’s really maybe an hour of actual show, here comes the first big bunch of filler: it’s a recap of the entire season! In case you missed it (and if you haven’t been reading my recaps, then shame on you!), here are the highlights:
  • Major suckage on day one when Chef Ramsay slammed the chefs’ first attempts
  • Tom sweating into the food
  • Larry’s medical downfall and early (really, only a few hours though) departure
  • Heather burning her hand
  • The women winning lots of challenges
  • Giacomo forgetting to turn the oven on
  • Heather moving over to the blue team and whipping them into shape
  • Garrett flipping Chef Ramsay the bird
  • Lots of bleeping, screaming and crying….from me, at home on my couch.
Now we’re down to the final two. Heather’s place in the final two seemed like a foregone conclusion pretty early on in the show, but who would have guessed that Virginia would make it this far? Yes, she’s won lots of challenges, but she’s fallen apart at almost every dinner service. Will she be able to win the ultimate challenge and take the whole thing? Let’s find out!

Family Reunions
When we last saw Heather and Virginia, they were celebrating their status as the final two in Hell’s Kitchen as the door to the dorms opened. Again with the big cliffhanger from Fox. Who came through the door? Nope, it isn’t Dewberry back for some more face time, it was family. Here come Heather’s parents and Virginia’s mother and husband. Both girls squeal some more and cry a lot. Each chef gets some time with her family to talk about her journey. In no time at all, the loved ones are gone, but not after some snogging between Virginia and her husband. Right there is number 57 in the list of the reasons I’m happy K-Grease didn’t make it to the final two. Lord knows who he’d be making out with. I’d have to do hypnotherapy to remove the image from my brain.

The next morning, Chef Ramsay calls the girls to the dining room. They emerge into the middle of their very first fake press conference. Chef Ramsay introduces the girls and it’s all very contrived but damn, is he cute. (<----total fangirly moment and I don’t care). The questions from the “press” are total fluff: “What do you think about the prize?” Like they’re going to say, “Oh, it totally sucks, I came on this show to get into acting. Virginia is asked about being a newlywed and how winning and having to move to Vegas would affect her marriage. Her husband is a chef too, so she’ll just hire him to work in her kitchen, Virginia quips. In another one of those Bermuda Triangle moments of reality TV, here’s Mark from the first season of Road Rules (and then every challenge on MTV since 1995). He’s now working for the Fox Reality channel and asks the chefs what they did in their down time. Apparently, Heather and Virginia are aspiring hip hop dancers and they show off the little dance they made up. Yeah, stick to the kitchen, girls.

In about 3 minutes, the press conference is over…..and the challenge has begun. Chef Ramsay announces to the room and the final two that their greatest test will begin now. A curtain snaps down and divides Hell’s Kitchen in two. When I say “snap,” I mean SNAP! Keep your hands in the vehicle at all times or you may lose a digit. It’s all very dramatic as contrived dramatic moments go.

If I was any happier, I’d need a personal assistant
From this point on, Heather and Virginia hardly stop moving. Chef Ramsay assigns Virginia to the blue kitchen and Heather to the red kitchen. Each side of Hell’s Kitchen will be its own separate restaurant and the chefs will determine everything from décor to menu. Ramsay sends Heather and Virginia back to the dorms to think about their plans and then quickly calls them back to give them a gift: it’s their very own head chef jackets. They're then given time to survey the space and decide on décor. Heather tells us she’s so happy she could die….well, maybe she’ll win the restaurant and then she’ll die. Virginia says she wants to put art on a plate so she can give people a visual understanding of who she is. I guess taste is secondary.

Each chef gets time with designers John Janavs and Albie Colotto, who will help them work out their designs. They also meet with Jean Philippe regarding the uniforms for the wait staff and the overall ambiance. In the kitchen, Virginia will have Mary Ann to help her, while Heather will rely on Scott. Virginia tells Chef Ramsay that she’ll try not to burn or cut Mary Ann. I’m sure Mary Ann is, er, relieved.

Heather has decided that her restaurant will feature video walls and will family-style dining. She wants trendy, colorful uniforms for her wait staff, with short skirts for the women. Her signature dish will be white fish. Virginia’s signature dish is her chicken roulade. She envisions a wall of water in her restaurant, with dark uniforms. She wants the servers to look like “ghosts.” Aren’t ghosts supposed to be white? She also tells us that the theme of her restaurant will be “Virginia’s Brain,” which doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me.

Even though the chefs are busy planning, Chef Ramsay has another surprise. He sends Heather and Virginia back to the dorms to pack. They have important business that needs attention….in Las Vegas. Heather, who is so excited she’s become irrational, speculates that Ramsay wants them to build the restaurant. Aaaand moving on. The limo ride is a perfect opportunity for more filler! All three of them reminisce about their journey over a bottle of champagne.

Nine out of Ten Gamblers Agree
Before the final dinner service, Chef Ramsay has one more challenge to spring on the chefs. Heather and Virginia must prepare their signature dishes for a taste test challenge. The judges? Random passersby in a Vegas casino. Heather’s Chilean sea bass with pureed cauliflower will go up against Virginia’s chicken roulade. Twenty people will determine the winner of the challenge. After nineteen tasters, the score is 10 for Virginia and 9 for Heather. The twentieth person chooses Heather’s dish and we have a tie. To break the tie, Chef Ramsay accosts another gambler/attention whore for his opinion. This final taster, aka Mr. Indecisive, waffles back and forth, saying he likes both of them. After some badgering from Ramsay, Eggo Boy chooses Virginia’s chicken. Heather is fuming over Virginia’s 500th challenge win. She says that this is further proof that she still might lose, even if she’s great. Ah, modesty is such an attractive quality.

Before they can head back to Hollywood, Chef Ramsay has one more thing to show the chefs. He takes them up to the rooftop of the casino for a view of the Vegas strip. He reminds them that in 24 hours, one of them will be the winner of Hell’s Kitchen and this will become her hometown. He reminisces about his own first opening and then whips out another surprise for them. Now, now. Get your minds out of the gutter. This is a family show, people. Ramsay presents Heather and Virginia with plane tickets so they can come to London and dine at one of his restaurants and see where he started out.

Quicker than you can say “Bubble and Squeak,” the gang is back at work in Hell’s Kitchen. With 18 hours until the restaurants open, there are some unexpected issues to deal with. At 2:15 a.m., Virginia meets with Albie, while Heather meets with John. In Virginia’s restaurant, the first issue is the paint color on the columns. Albie tells her it is just too dark. She okays a lighter color. He then breaks the news to her that the water wall just is not coming along very well: there may be a gaping hole in the wall when the dinner service starts. She can just change her theme to “industrial chic” and leave the pipes and wires hanging out. Heather’s problem is a lack of Plexiglas, which I think she wanted somewhere on the stairs. The other issue: the upholstery guy can’t do nine booths in such a short amount of time. Did they not all know this needed to be a quick job?

It’s almost 3:30 a.m. when Heather and Virginia finally go back to the dorms. Both are having trouble sleeping: it feels like Christmas Eve. Christmas morning comes in no time. The chefs are quiet and nervous…and slightly mental, as evidenced by Virginia’s animated conversation with a stuffed animal.

The People You Can Count on the Least
The surprises just never end on this show! This time, the chefs learn that the key to their future lies in their past. Oh, this can’t be good news. Yep, here comes the big bunch of losers that Heather and Virginia will have to rely on in their last dinner service. Returning to Hell’s Kitchen are Giacomo, Tom, Rachel, Keith, Garrett and Sara. Every one of them seems both surprised and irritated by the fact that Virginia made it to the end.

The reunion is cut short when Chef Ramsay summons them all to the kitchen. It’s been a while since he’s seen some of them, Ramsay says, setting up the next round of clips. This segment features all the screw-ups and events that lead to the demise of each chef. This is the pool of kitchen helpers Heather and Virginia have to choose from. Because she won yet another challenge, Virginia gets to pick first. It’s all very “Grammar School Dodge Ball Team.” The teams fall out this way:
Virginia: Keith (who looks thrilled), Tom and Giacomo because she thought that not being picked last might boost his confidence. So now she’s running self-esteem seminars?
Heather: Rachel, Sara and Garrett. I think everyone (especially Keith) is glad Garrett and Keith aren’t working together.

With only ten hours until dinner service, the teams have very little time to prepare. We are told that a crucial duty of a head chef is to inspire confidence in the kitchen staff. To that end, Virginia lets her team know that she intentionally picked people who are perceived as weak….just so they could prove that they aren’t weak. Is this reverse psychology? If so, she really sucks at it. Keith says that he likes Virginia’s menu: it’s what he would do. On Heather’s team, Garrett only has one question: is there chicken on the menu? ‘Cause, you know, Garrett has issues with chicken. Back with Virginia’s team, Keith is showing his supportive side by demanding payment for his services. He tells Virginia that, if she wins, he wants money and he wants it in writing. The other guys jump on that bandwagon as well, demanding $1,000 per person. I seriously want Virginia to tell them where to get off, but she actually agrees. I’m not sure which one of them I want to smack more: Keith for being such a schmuck or Virginia for giving in to his demands.

Will K-Grease get paid? Will he buy a belt with the money? Stay tuned for part two of the season finale recap and find out!