Did anyone else know that the season finale of FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” was last night? I didn’t until Mrs. Mike read the TV listings to me, and suddenly I was stressed that I had to watch four hours of TV (more like 3, thank you TiVo) for blogs this morning about this show and “The Biggest Loser.” Will Harris, I have more respect for you at this moment than ever. But I made it through and now HK is done for a while as FOX turns its attention to the baseball playoffs. Anyway, we have a season finale to discuss, but it was really two back to back episodes, and they shortened the finale episode considerably compared to previous seasons (thank you FOX, seriously).

The first episode began with Gordon Ramsay having the three semi-finalists, Ariel, Dave and Kevin, make a dish out of a cuisine chosen from under a dome. Ariel went first and drew Chinese; Dave drew Indian and then moaned and groaned; and Kevin had Mexican. They would be judged by Ramsay and three celebrity judges that specialize in those cuisines.

Ariel made a duck breast with noodles, Kevin an orange/cumin pork tenderloin with a mole sauce that he forgot to serve, and Dave made a pork dish with curry sauce but admitted he’d never made Indian food before. He also wrestled with what protein to use, and chose pork because he had thought the cow was sacred in India.

The judges liked Ariel’s okay and like Kevin’s okay despite the missing sauce, but Dave’s was the favorite among them. The only glitch was the Indian chef said that pork was also not something typically eaten in India…and yeah, think about that…they usually serve lamb, chicken, fish and veggie dishes in Indian restaurants (man, I could go for that right about now, much to the dismay of Mrs. Mike!).

Dave’s prize was to have each of the three chefs cook their signature dishes for him, and his fiancee and sister joined him once again. Ariel and Kevin, meanwhile, had to prep the kitchen and dining room. Dinner service got off to a good start with each of them taking turns at the pass…Kevin was boisterous, but not as boisterous and obnoxious as Dave. Ariel could not cook lamb properly but Kevin appeared to be throwing her under the bus. Chef Scott and Chef Heather were purposely messing orders up and Kevin was hip to them but Dave was struggling at the start, but got better at finding the mistakes. Ariel also struggled, not noticing parsnip puree was substituted for mashed potatoes.

Ramsay asked them each to pick one nominee for elimination–Kevin and Dave chose Ariel and Ariel chose Kevin. Ramsay admitted that he didn’t care what they had said, he was going to make his own choice…and he chose Ariel to go home anyway. He told her to keep her jacked and keep her head held high for making it this far, but it was now down to a final between Kevin and Dave.

After rehashing most of the season, the second episode began with Dave and Kevin being whisked off in a limo but the limo only took them a short distance to downtown LA hotel. From there, they noticed fans down below and they would be squaring off by cooking a meal in 45 minutes for guest judges, including some potential future bosses at the Araxi restaurant in British Columbia. Dave cooked a rack of venison and Kevin a vanilla flavored lobster. With five judges, the first two picked Dave and the next two Kevin. The tiebreaker chose Dave and he won, but isn’t it funny how these things always end up so close? Fixed you say? Yeah, or at least skewed.

Then Kevin and Dave found out they would be choosing teams from previous contestants–and Dave chose first since he won the challenge. He chose Ariel, Dave chose Van. Then Dave chose Robert and Kevin chose Amanda (because she knew how to cook fish and he had a fish-heavy menue), and finally Dave chose Suzanne and Kevin wound up with Sabrina.

Robert noticed that Dave’s menu was much simpler than Kevin’s. Kevin’s dishes all looked like they could be on a magazine cover, and Robert commented that if they tasted as good as they looked, Dave was in trouble. But Ramsay noted that this could also work against Kevin, as the dishes would be more complicated and tougher to execute.

Anyway, Kevin’s menu featured scallop risotto, beef tenderloin and three kinds of creme brulee. Dave’s included a mushroom risotto, his rack of venison and a chocolate mousse. Much to Kevin’s chagrin, Amanda kept having trouble cooking fish properly and it set the team way behind. Dave’s team was doing much better, until he pissed off Robert with a comment and Robert apparently turned against him for a few minutes. Kevin’s team caught up but it appeared that Dave’s team had the better service overall.

Now it was up to Ramsay to choose his head chef, and he was aided by some customer comment cards. Mrs. Mike thought for sure it was going to be Kevin and I had predicted that for a few weeks, but I still wasn’t sure. And Ramsay admitted it was the closest race ever for a winner. So with their families, customers and fellow chefs all waiting, one door opened and the winner was…Dave! The “one armed bandit” hung in there and won the whole thing. Kevin made it a point to show his young son that it’s okay to be gracious in defeat and not stop following your dreams. Good for him, and good for Dave for hanging tough despite that arm injury he suffered early in the season.

So that’s it…it’s been a pleasure blogging the show for you this season and since they mentioned casting for a new season during the show, we expect at least one more season, though probably not before next spring.

Congrats Dave, and see you all next time!