Hell’s Kitchen Finale Recap, Part II: The Whole Empanada
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We’re already and hour into the season finale of Hell’s Kitchen and pretty much nothing has happened yet. Still, before we go any further, Fox gives us a recap of the first hour of the show. If you want to experience it yourself, go to my recap of the first hour of the show and reread it. I’ll wait.
When we left off, Keith and the boys had strong-armed Virginia into promising a cash payout if she wins. Clearly, motivating her staff is going to be an issue for Virginia. Tom is especially grateful for the promise of money since he still can’t find anyone to pay him on a regular basis.
Like Trading Spaces Only Less Organized
With eight hours left until dinner service, the teams have moved to their respective kitchens to get started on prep. Virginia directs her team to taste everything all day long. She’s concerned about how Giacomo and Tom will handle the pressure, but she knows they’ll give her their best. I can’t tell if Virginia is really confident or just delusional. Heather is both confident in her team and her menu. Her décor? Not so much. Albie shows her that the booths are too big and don’t fit in the space. She gives him the go ahead to cut the booths down to make them fit.
Things aren’t going so well in Virginia’s side of the dining room either. Not only is there no water running, there’s no material on the wall, nor is it lit. John breaks the news to Virginia: he’s not sure if it will be done in time for dinner service.
It’s time for Heather and Virginia to discuss their menu with Chef Ramsay. Heather’s menu will include her signature sea bass, as well as a goat cheese tart and bread pudding. Ramsay checks out the food and gives it mixed reviews. The bass is good, but a bit boring and the chicken on one of her salads looks like it was put through a paper shredder. Virginia’s menu - which includes jalapeno tortellini appetizer, braised short ribs and ice cream sundae - fares better with Chef Ramsay. He has a few suggestions about aesthetics, but pretty much gives her the go ahead. He tells us that their menus could not be more different: Virginia is presenting her usual creative California cuisine, while Heather is the typical hard ass New Yorker.
Now that the menus have been given the once over, Chef Ramsay moves on to the dining room decor. Heather tells Ramsay that her décor was inspired by her family and her love of art….and apparently also by her ego, since the dining room features lots of screens with video of Heather cooking. Heather says she wanted the dining room to feel like an empty canvas, as evidenced by the use of dry erase board on the walls. Ramsay clearly hates the dry erase and the graffiti the chefs have covered it with. It’s more suited to a daycare center than a fine dining establishment.
With only twenty minutes left until dinner service, Virginia gives Chef Ramsay a look at her dining room. Why does that sound dirty? The water wall is finished and all the holes are filled. She tells Ramsay that she wanted people to feel both comfortable and as if they are in a fine dining situation. Her main theme? The desert and water at sunset. Chef Ramsay compliments her use of candlelight, calling the effect cozy.
Desert Oasis vs. Urban Bistro
It’s time for one final pep talk, Ramsay-style. They’re only one dinner service away from winning and he will be watching everything. He reminds the chefs that their kitchen help should be treated like staff, not like friends. Heather and Virginia quickly head back to the kitchen to brief their teams and get ready for the onslaught. Virginia asks her team to be strong and not burn anything. Heather instructs her team that she wants good communication, but won’t tolerate yelling.
How are the support teams feeling about the situation? Tom seems, er, confident. He tells us that even a blind squirrel finds a nut. M’kay. Giacomo assures Virginia that he quadruple-checked to make sure the oven is on. In no time, the first ticket hits Heather’s kitchen. She calls out the order and Ramsay tells us that the energy in Heather’s kitchen is good so far. When Virginia calls out her first order, her support staff all, well…..they all look confused. Not that this is too difficult for Keith whose mouth is always hanging wide open. Chef Ramsay has yet another surprise for Heather and Virginia: there are some very important clients in the dining room who will be helping him choose the winner. Ramsay tells us that the president of the Red Rocks Casino – where the winner will be working – is there to taste dishes from each kitchen.
Heather is determined to get off to a quick start tonight and things seem to start well enough. How’s Virginia? It seems she might be questioning her support staff choices and now she’s worried that they’ll screw things up for her. NOW she thinks about this? Why not before she choise the culinary equivalent of the Bad News Bears? Because she’s so worried the guys will screw up, Virginia is spending way too much time plating the food herself. While 32 of 50 appetizers have been served from Heather’s kitchen, things aren’t going so well for Virginia. Of course, Virginia’s not having food returned to her kitchen either. Here comes Jean Philippe back to Heather with a bland and lukewarm appetizer. Chef Ramsay urges Heather to get a grip and ensure that no more dishes come back tonight.
Virginia’s having issues in her kitchen as well. Chef Ramsay urges her to fire up her team and get them moving. Cut to Tom griping and getting his panties in a bunch about being told what to do: he doesn’t need anyone to psych him up. Presumably, they just need to pay him more money to get him out of the coma he normally falls into when a dinner service begins. Virginia is adamant about not letting sub-par food out of the kitchen. Thanks to Giacomo, not much is getting out of the kitchen anyway. Giacomo whines that he is the biatch of the kitchen as he runs around like the donkey he is. With the assistance of Keith, Virginia finally gets things under control but she complains that Keith is taking advantage of her. Gee, ya think?
Fish Oil and K-Grease Don’t Mix
The president of Red Rocks Casino is served dishes from Heather’s kitchen and the reviews are mixed. He thinks the pasta is a little thick, but she can definitely cook a steak. Another diner sends a salad back because it has too much dressing. Meanwhile, Rachel complains that Heather is riding her ass and Sara is being her usual (un)charming self.
Virginia manages to get most of the appetizers out, but she’s still playing catch up with the entrées and she’s not getting any help. Tom is just standing there like he’s had a stroke and then pulls an attitude. He tells us he won’t be bossed around by a woman and that this is like listening to his ex-girlfriend. Lucky girl. At the height of his uselessness, Tom slices his finger open and things slow down even more. Giacomo tries to pick up the slack, but you can imagine how that goes.
Two hours into dinner service Heather is still in the lead. She’s served 42 of 50 entrées, while Virginia has served only 35 of 50. With Tom off getting medical attention, things have pretty much ground to a halt in Virginia’s kitchen. When Chef Ramsay tells Tom to suck it up, Tom fumes…..but then he sucks it up, slaps a rubber glove on his hand and gets back to work. Of course, he still bitches the whole time, but at least he’s cooking while he does it. He whines about how he’s being treated and then, in a moment of hilarity (for me, not for Tom), he tells us that he’s not a bad looking guy. Tom has the self-awareness of Paris Hilton. The good news is that the Red Rocks president gives Virginia’s food an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Unfortunately, not all the diners are happy with Virginia’s food: a snapper entrée is sent back by a diner who complains that the fish is too oily and he wants a new order of snapper. This wouldn’t be a big problem if there was any snapper left in the kitchen. Virginia breaks the news to an incredulous Chef Ramsay as Keith smirks.
As Heather’s team moves on to desserts, Chef Ramsay reminds them that this is the point at which it’s crucial to keep service up. This is also the point at which Sara chooses to be Sara and do a half-assed job with the desserts. Heather keeps sending them back as Sara whines and I reach for my voodoo doll. Both kitchens finish serving their diners and each chef thanks her team. Keith tells us that he really wants Virginia to win….because he wants the money. Ah, feel the love.
All Over But the Crying
Chef Ramsay assembles everyone in the dining room and tells them to give themselves a hand. He congratulates Heather and Virginia and tells them that now it’s time to get real and serious. Ramsay tells them that his decision will be influenced by someone that they didn’t even know was in the dining room this evening. He then calls in Scott Krieger, the president of Red Rocks Resort. Krieger tells Heather that the sea bass was wonderful and compliments Virginia on the best short ribs he’s ever had. Chef Ramsay says that this will definitely be a tough decision for him. He sends the chefs back to the dorms to wait for his decision.
After we watch Chef Ramsay looking pensive for about 5 seconds, we see Scott and Mary Ann headed for the dorms to collect Heather and Virginia. Ramsay will meet them upstairs to announce his decision. He compliments both chefs. He says that Heather started out a young girl, but she’s matured. He compliments Virginia’s extraordinary palate. Ramsay has read all of the customer comment cards and they show a slight edge….very slight. This decision, he says, is one of the most difficult he’s ever made.
Behind Heather and Virginia are two doors. He hands each of them a key. The winner’s key will not only open the door into Hell’s Kitchen, it will open the door to the restaurant in Vegas.
Big Finish! <----with jazz hands
In Hell’s Kitchen, a crowd is assembled to await the winner of the show. Each chef is confident that she will win. Virginia tells us that this is like being in love: you just know and she knows she’ll win. This might not bode well for her marriage.
On the count of three, Heather and Virginia will turn their keys. Chef Ramsay counts down and – after an interminably long commercial break – one door opens and Heather walks through it into Hell’s Kitchen as the crowd below cheers. Heather screams and cries like a little girl and then runs down to her parents. Behind the other door, we see Chef Ramsay giving Virginia a hug. As they walk down the stairs together, he tells her that she has nothing to be ashamed of: she did an extraordinary job. Virginia congratulates Heather and tells us that she trusts Chef Ramsay’s decision. It’s one of the more gracious loser speeches in reality TV history. Seriously.
Chef Ramsay congratulates Heather. She won because of her determination. She controlled her kitchen from start to finish. She has great leadership qualities, especially for a 25 year-old cook. Ramsay predicts that Heather will be a big success. Raising a glass of champagne, Ramsay toasts Heather as the winner of Hell’s Kitchen. Everyone raises their glasses and cheers as confetti falls to the floor. Heather says that her life has just changed drastically
Postscript: 3 Months Later
Time flies, doesn’t it? Here we are at the Red Rocks Resort where Heather is introduced as the new executive chef. The restaurant staff cheers as Heather greets everyone. A bouquet of flowers in hand, Heather confesses that she didn’t think she’d make it this far so quickly. Heather honors her parents, saying that her success is just as much theirs. She then toasts an absent Chef Ramsay for the Hell he put her through.
In his final interview of this season, Gordon Ramsay tells us that his work is done. It’s been a phenomenal journey and he’s ready for the next challenge.... now f*** you all!. I love it when he talks dirty.
Until season three, you can find me at watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBCAmerica…..Critical@fansofrealitytv.com