Culinary Showdown 4: Hell's Kitchen vs. Top Chef
The chefs of both Hell's Kitchen and Top Chef were thrown some curveballs this week. On Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay tried, actually, to toss his chefs a softball by giving them an easier menu designed to be family friendly. The Top Chef cheftestants, on the other hand, wound up facing multiple change-ups as new twists were added to challenge in order to require even more improvisational skills.

Despite the fact that Ramsay was trying to give his chefs more of a chance at a successful service by easing up on the complication of the dishes, by this stage of the competition, the chefs seem so rattled that I think some of them might mess up pouring a bowl of cereal and milk if Ramsay were standing over them. However, some chefs were able to rise to the occasion on Hell's Kitchen – and Top Chef – and in both cases showed that each show has a tendency to reward certain personality traits over others.

On Hell's Kitchen, Jen and Bobby took the lead and managed to shine during a difficult service. Both have been a little cocky or put other people off by their self-confident or take-charge attitude at other moments. But the fact is that it might take a pretty thick-skinned person to be able to keep his or her cool when Ramsay is swearing up a blue streak and team mates are freaking out all around.

And on Top Chef, once again, we saw that those chefs who are able to create and conceptualize on the fly are the chefs who are usually able to do well. While this episode centered on improvisation, the fact is that Top Chef is almost always about improvisation. The chefs don't get to make the same dishes multiple times, and they rarely have time to study what they will be cooking the next day.

One thing the Hell's Kitchen chefs will probably come away from the show with that Top Chef cheftestants will not is increased dessert-making skills. The chefs might not all take a turn on the station, but unlike Top Chef, dessert doesn't usually make an appearance only once a season. Perhaps the additional marketable skill will help offset the stigma of participating in the reality show in the first place? It's something, at least.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Images courtesy of Bravo and Fox)