Episode Overview: We're down to six chefs on Hell's Kitchen and the teams are again evenly divided between men and women. However, the experience profiles between the two teams are pretty disparate. What the women's team lacks in serious fine dining restaurant service experience, they make up for in unrefined talent and taste. The men, on the other hand, have the pedigree, but can they pull their team together well enough to capitalize on their experience?
The chefs are having mixed reactions to Melissa Firpo's departure. Bonnie Muirhead is somehow inexplicably shocked, even though Melissa was both the target of Gordon Ramsay's ire and on the chopping block previously. Rock Harper, on the other hand, is pleased, mainly because it's one less chef to compete with.
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Now the teams are even split again on Hell's Kitchen, three men vs. three women, and it's time for the next challenge. Each team will have thirty minutes to create one appetizer and two entrees from a batch of leftovers. (Leftovers, incidentally, in the context of Hell's Kitchen, also somehow means uncooked pasta. Funny: elsewhere that is just called an ingredient.)
The men get right to work but the women are caught in a whirlpool of indecision and cannot arrive at a menu. Minutes pass…ten minutes…fifteen minutes…as the minutes tick down it seems unbelievable that they could possibly still be dithering. But dither they do until there's less than ten minutes left.
It seems like it's going to be a blow-out when Bonnie goes head-to-head against Brad Miller in the appetizer course. Even she thinks so; when she sees his complex starter. But, even though her dish is a simple rustic chicken soup, the flavor is strong enough to cause Ramsay to declare the round a tie.
The men and women are equally matched in the next round too, which, in this case, is not good. Jen Yemola's steak and eggs are cooked adequately but the utter lack of imagination does not impress Ramsay at all. Josh Wahler's chicken dish is just plain old bad. Neither side scores a point.
It's up to Julia Williams and Rock for the last round. Unfortunately, Julia's Waffle House background catches up with her, and though her fish and chips are well-cooked, they don't stand up to Rock's sophisticated surf and turf entry. The men win.
For their reward, the men get the chance to try to take out their aggressions against Ramsay himself in a game of paintball. It's great for them to have a shot to take him out, but he actually dominates the game, picking off the men one by one. It's saying something about the likeability of your contestants when your audience finds itself rooting for the screaming rage case of a head chef rather than the poor downtrodden hopefuls. But there was something viscerally satisfying about watching Ramsay take down each arrogant dude one by one.
Meanwhile, the women suffer their punishment: cleaning the restaurant and taking care of the deliveries. They appear to be slipping under the pressure. Although Bonnie checks the invoices, she still gets it wrong, leaving them with fish skeletons instead of fillets. She starts tearfully moaning about how awful this is, always an effective response to personal errors.
Once that's all completed, it's time to prepare for the next service. Ramsay informs them that this will really be their chance to shine. Each kitchen will have the opportunity to create their own menus, and the patrons will be able to pick the menu they like the best.
Both groups encounter some challenges when designing the menus. On the men's side, it's frustration with Brad's alpha dog assumption of the leadership role, and his need to make the menu unnecessarily fussy.
On the women's, it's once again their overall difficulty with making decisions. One thing the majority of the team (Bonnie and Jen) can decide on is that they don't want to make Julia's dishes and none of hers end up on the menu until Chef Ramsay intervenes and helps her get her steak dish on the menu.
Good thing Ramsay stepped in, because it turns out that steak dish is extremely popular; when service starts, the red team is initially flooded with all the orders. Unfortunately, their success at menu planning doesn't bring them together as a team, and the group struggles to work cohesively. It also doesn't help that they put a rabbit dish on the menu that none of them actually know how to cook. Ramsay pretty much has to talk them through it, and it's stunning that he doesn't completely lose his mind with rage at this. The dish, once they figure out how to get it out, is a success.
The men finally get some orders in, but Brad really struggles to get out his starters. Once he does, some dishes are sent back to Ramsay's dismay. When the men start on the entrees, Josh becomes Ramsay's target, and although the Chef exhorts them to help, both Brad and Rock seem to come to the same decision. The blue team looks to be the worst tonight, so let one person utterly fail and make Ramsay's choice for elimination easy. Josh comes across as sort of a tool, so it's hard to blame them for taking this course of action, but it does seem short-sighted since the goal is not tool-isolation but actual meal distribution.
But it's not all bad news. Julia might not have the same fine dining experience as the others, but when it's time for service, she manages to keep it together. He's also impressed with not only how popular the dish is when the patrons ordered, but that none of the steaks come back.
Her strength isn't enough to make her team pull together, though. Bonnie isn't cooking with gas – literally. Her pan is on the stove, but Ramsay has to remind her to turn on the heat. The blue team is able to overtake the women and complete the service before them. The women complete later, and then it's time for Ramsay's evaluation.
And in the battle of the sexes on Hell's Kitchen, both men and women are failing Ramsay's expectations. Only Julia gets kudos from Ramsay, and therefore has to select on person from her team to put up for elimination. The men all disappointed Ramsay, so they have to nominate one of their own together.
After the usual debriefing and posturing back at the house, it's time for the elimination. Julia puts Bonnie on the chopping block; her palate and creativity are admirable, but…um…she doesn't know to turn on the stove in order to cook. Brad's team nominates Brad due to his unsuccessful leadership.
And it's Brad who's going home tonight; Ramsay thinks he's just a chef and not a leader. Bonnie once again escapes with her chef's jacket, hopefully with the valuable lesson learned that heat is an essential part of cooking.
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Fox)