Hell’s Kitchen returns with dysfunctional fun

Last night on FOX, Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” returned for Season 5. The winner of this season will earn $250K and the position of executive chef at Ramsay’s new restaurant at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. After 300 hopeful chefs were brought to the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant to find out who the 16 finalists would be, restaurant manager Jean Phillippe announced the names of those selected, and we were off to the races. And I have to say, it’s pretty clear that the criteria is not all based on cooking skills. Though they boasted that this was maybe the best class of talent the show has seen so far, you know that the producers and probably Ramsay himself prefer to have a few crazy contestants who wil boost ratings. After all, it’s a freaking reality show.

The first episode means one thing…the contestants each have to make their personal signature dish for Ramsay to taste. Carol went first, and made a roulade of veal that Ramsay said was “delicious.” This girl is already a contender. Wil, a 26 year old dude, was wearing a pride pin, something Ramsay asked about but I’m not sure quite understood. Anyway, Ramsay said Wil’s dish tasted better than it looked. Ji, a 33 year old who grew up in her dad’s restaurant, made a Miso Chilean sea bass, which Gordon loved. Robert, a 29 year old very large dude from New York City, also made Chilean sea bass, but wrapped it in some sort of potato thingy Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Guy Fieri’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown 2 Set to Start January 4

The Food Network has struck gold with Guy Fieri, who has four different shows and is about as ubiquitous on the network as misteltoe and egg nog this time of year. The guy is a workhorse and execs at the Food Network clearly love everything Fieri works on. And for good reason–he’s entertaining, knowledgeable and can grab the reins of any show and make it more interesting.

Fieri’s back again with Season 2 of “The Ultimate Recipe Showdown,” which begins airing January 4 at 9pm ET/8pm central. This season began with 12,000 recipes, which a panel of judges narrow down to 24, in categories of Comfort Food, Burgers, Hot and Spicy, Desserts, Cakes, and Hometown Favorites. Each week the winner takes home $25K and a chance to have their recipe featured on a T.G.I. Friday’s menu. Co-host Mark Summer is not helping Fieri this time, and while he claims to be bummed out about that, Fieri is ready for the challenge of hosting it alone. He’s also very excited and ready to rock.

“This second year is remarkable,” Fieri said yesterday during a conference call. “There is a real in-depth view of the contestants. It’s not just about the food on the plate and how it’s presented. Producer Art Edwards really got more of a compelling background piece on the show contestant’s giving the show much more depth.” He then adds, “The folks this year were a fantastic group and many of them had that one signature piece that just blew the judges away.”

Fieri, who was taking a break from filming his “Chefography” for the network at the time of the call, has possibly taken more air time away from his buddy and network darling Bobby Flay. Whether or not it’s too early to tell if that’s the case, the Food Network is definitely keeping Fieri busy. They shot the full season of “The Ultimate Recipe Showdown” in less than two weeks. “We shot a show a day along with bumps (ins and outs) but each show took about 10 hours to shoot,” said Fieri. “Each episode was shot back-to-back. It was a 12 day schedule for this year’s season.”

And while the show has already been taped, you’ll have to tune in each week to see who wins.

  

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Kitchen Nightmares: Returns Thanks to a 5 Game World Series

Last night Fox had to scramble for extra coverage when the World Series abruptly ended after a two-day rain delay in Game 5. Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” returned in its usual slot at 9pm ET, with a bonus re-run episode at 8pm. In the new episode, Ramsay visited South Bend, Indiana….his second venture to the middle of America after doing most of these shows in New York and Los Angeles. The establishment here, a few miles from Notre Dame University, was J. Willy’s, a bar/restaurant focusing on barbecue cuisine.

The restaurant was owned by three people–married couple Rich and Tricia, who owned another restaurant three hours away and were rarely at J. Willy’s, and J. Willy himself, a.k.a. John William. Dave the manager and Steve the chef as well as the rest of the staff were just pawns doing what John made them do, which was to use more and more processed, cheap food and cutting corners everywhere. As a result, this restaurant was $1.2 million in the hole. Yes, you read that correctly.

So Ramsay arrived and noticed the ratty decor and then proceeded to order from the menu….potato pizza (blech), beef ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. He was grossed out by all of the items and I was too watching it. At the dinner serivce that night, Ramsay also noticed that the poor food quality was scaring customers away. So he brought the three owners to a nearby church and posed as a priest at confession, asking them to share their feelings about why the restaurant was failing. The general verdict was that John had lost his passion and it was all his fault. Ramsay convinced him that if he freshened up the menu and got his staff on board, things could quickly change. They went back to the kitchen and started throwing out all of the processed and spoiling food.

Then Ramsay taught the kitchen staff how to make homemade BBQ sauce, and they served it that night along with fresh hamburgers and fresh cut fries. Everything was a hit until they ran out of food and started using frozen stuff again that had somehow been saved from the purge, angering Ramsay. So before he gave them a re-design of the restaurant, Ramsay made sure the owners were all committed to making changes. They agreed, he made it beautiful and brought in four of his own chefs to help re-design the menu further. The kitchen got behind and was making mistakes again, but manager Dave, and the three owners were able to rally their staff and have a great dinner service.

Ah, success. And they showed the restaurant months later still enjoying success and winning BBQ sauce competitions. Good for them, and hopefully they are climbing out of that big financial hole. Ramsay, you bugger, you’ve done it again.

  

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