Hell’s Kitchen: the Velvet Hammer swings

Last night was the season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” on FOX, and one of the stiffest competitions yet on the show between two low-key but talented Floridians, Danny and Paula. At the end of last week’s episode, they had just chosen their teams for their big dinner service, and Danny chose first since he won the challenge back at the Borgata in Atlantic City. His team was Ben, Giovanni and Carol; Paula had Andrea, L.A., and Lacey. Giovanni didn’t want to be there, and Carol admitted she had been pulling for Paula. But the biggest issue was that Paula got stuck with Lacey. Danny knew he had a decided edge already.

During prep, Lacey was at it already, just being Lacey…as she ruined an entire batch of creme brulee. Then Gordon Ramsay wanted to see the design of each restaurant. Paula went first, with her brightly themed “Sunergy” very impressive to the boss. Then Danny, who couldn’t resist
hanging fish on the wall and calling his restaurant “Velvet Hammer,” a reference to his sexual prowess in high school. I can’t believe he actually went through with that name!

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Hell’s Kitchen: throwaway episode?

By all accounts I thought last night was going to be the “Hell’s Kitchen” season finale, but it turned out to be mostly a fluff episode, setting up the meat and potatoes of the big showdown between Danny and Paula next Thursday. The show began with a 10-minute recap of the season, followed by the two finalists enjoying way too much champagne together and then feeling like crap when they had to wake up early the next morning.

They met with a designer for their restaurants, and had to pick a name…Paula picked something like “Sunshine” though I don’t quite remember exactly what…and Danny picked “The Velvet Hammer,” saying that was his high school nickname, because he “was smooth but could lay the hammer to the ladies.” Did he really just say that? Did I really just write that? Yep. Freaking hilarious.

Then they traveled on a private jet with Gordon Ramsay to the Borgata in Atlantic City, where one of them would run Ramsay’s new restaurant. Meanwhile, Paula and Danny each had two “advisors” left to keep an eye on the design progress, and those were family members, or Paula’s stripper sister and mom, and Danny’s dad and girlfriend. They were able to communicate with each other via webcam to make sure everything was running smooth.

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Hell’s Kitchen: Down to two

Last night’s episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” brought us to what we’ve all been waiting for this season….what has become the inevitable cage match between the two most talented competitors. But first, after Ben had been eliminated last week, the three remaining chefs–Andrea, Danny and Paula–had a quick visit from their families. And I don’t know how much was edited, but they showed about one minute of said visit, and then the families were headed home again. What, they didn’t even have the chance to cook for them? Weird.

Then the challenge came and it was cooking a dish for 100 Hell’s Kitchen customers–who were all the top chefs in Los Angeles…and I do mean top chefs…all Michelin star and James Beard award winners. Each chef had to cook one dish, with tasting portions of 100. And they had only 90 minutes to do this. It went so fast that I could barely hear what their dishes were, but know Danny made some sort of halibut and it failed miserably, with 76% of the visiting chefs calling it the worst of the three. That same 76% number called Paula’s dish the best. So Paula had a makeover, after some fabricated romantic banter between Paula and Jean Phillippe in the limo. Please! Then Paula had her makeover and she actually looked really good with her hair down, not the plain looking chef we’ve all seen this season.

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Hell’s Kitchen: shocking elimination?

Remember last week at the end of episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” when they said something about us not believing who they send home this week? Yeah, well that was truly hype from FOX and I know now not to ever believe them. At the start of last night’s episode, they showed Ben enduring the wrath of Gordon Ramsay and that if it weren’t for Robert leaving the show and Andrea having a free pass, Ben would have been next in line to go home.

Then they began with Ramsay bringing out three of his signature dishes, and they all loved his fish stew, which he then asked them all to re-create as best as possible. Ben was cheating a bit by finding a secret ingredient and then hiding it. And when Ramsay tested all four from Danny, Ben, Paula and Andrea, he said that all four were very good. But he eliminated Andrea immediately for missing a key ingredient, and then Ben…so it came down to Paula and Danny. He chose Danny because Danny used stock instead of water…I’m not sure how he knew that, but Ramsay has a Superman palate. So Danny finally won a challenge, and Ramsay took him for a ride in a private stunt plane. Very cool. The others, meanwhile, had to clean and prep the kitchen for dinner. Andrea was whining the whole time, which annoyed Ben and Paula to no end.

Then Ramsay sent them all to their dorms before dinner, and the big “surprise” was that he was giving them all a set of cookware for making the Final 4. As Mrs. Mike said, “BO-RING!” At the dinner service, Paula was slower than usual but Andrea literally lost two of her Beef Wellingtons, and Ben was his usual sloppy self. Then there was a very large dude who proposed to his girlfriend…and I do mean very large. Anyway, the dinner service started so well but then the wheels eventually came off, and Ramsay said he was disappointed. He asked the four to come up with a consensus nominee for elimination.

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Hell’s Kitchen: Fabricated drama meets real drama

So remember last week at the end of the episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” where Gordon Ramsay said he was shutting down the restaurant? You all knew this was fabricated drama, right? So the show opens last night with Ramsay saying the reason he’s shutting down Hell’s Kitchen is that the final 5 contestants are going to Atlantic City, to the Borgata Hotel & Casino where one of them will be excecutive chef of their own restaurant. Ramsay wanted them to have a taste of what they are competing for. All that for that? Please.

They arrived at the Borgata via limos and private jets and had the opportunity to see the space that will house said restaurant soon. Then, at dinner with some of the Borgata’s top executives, something went wrong. Robert started having real chest pains and was sent to the hospital. Competition or not, they all love Robert and wanted him to be okay. So while Danny, Paula, Andrea and Ben tasted the good life a bit and flew back to Los Angeles without Robert, Ramsay called a meeting once they arrived. He then brought Robert into the room, but the news wasn’t good. Robert had pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the walls around one’s heart, and an early sign of heart disease. Robert was okay, but he was not able to continue in the competition. Everyone was bummed, especially Robert, who, let’s face it, is about 200 pounds overweight. Ramsay told him that had he stayed, Robert had a legitimate shot to win this thing. So sadly, Robert left and it was now down to the final 4.

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