Hell's Kitchen: Episode 4.1 Recap
Tonight marks the long-awaited return of Hell's Kitchen, which is the show that taught us all how important it is to be able to cook a proper risotto and Beef Wellington.  If the contestants in the fourth season of the FOX series have yet to master those two culinary delights, chef Gordon Ramsay will surely raise his voice and go a little crazy.  After all, that's what he does best.  Tonight's season premiere introduces us to the 15 finalists who will be competing to become an executive chef at Ramsay's new restaurant, The London West Hollywood.  Who will be the first person to go up in flames?

The episode kicks off as though we're watching a horror movie, with spooky music, a full moon, and flashbacks to contestants crying.  The bombastic voiceover guy even refers to Ramsay as "The Dark Lord."  I now fully expect Gordon Ramsay to morph into some Satanic demon and start devouring the flesh of the other chefs.  Could that be the big twist for Hell's Kitchen this season?

Actually, the big twist involves Chef Ramsay in an elaborate disguise consisting of a wig and some prosthetic makeup.  He looks like a strung out member of The Rolling Stones, and he's going undercover to hang out with the contestants.  Not knowing that Chef Ramsay is on the bus with them, cocky Craig insists he's going to win, while Bobby refers to himself as "the black Gordon Ramsay."  Rock Star Ramsay is not amused.

The chefs get to the restaurant to meet Jean-Philippe, who gives them his best Ramsay impression.  He then asks Rock Star Ramsay to do an impression, and the contestants are shocked when he rips his fake face off and reveals that he's the real deal.  It's time for the chefs to cook him their favorite dishes.  They've got 45 minutes to do it.

Cocky Craig, who wears a giant chef's hat at all times, cooks up some jerk-flavored Chilean sea bass and risotto.  Ramsay calls it a pile of you-know-what, and also threatens to shove Craig's hat where the sun don't shine.  Jen is next, and he tells her that she can't cook.  One by one, the chefs step up, present their dishes, and are insulted and sent back to the pack.

However, nobody fairs as poorly as Matt, who, for some unholy reason, decided to mix together caviar and white chocolate.  Ramsay takes a bite and immediately heaves it all up into the trash can.  It's totally overdramatic in that special Hell's Kitchen way that we know and love.  Petrozza also does poorly with his "hen in a pumpkin" dish, which is exactly what it sounds like.  It looks revolting.  The black Gordon Ramsay fails miserably as well.

Receptionist and former cook Rosann has whipped up a spicy mussel soup, which Ramsay thinks is perfectly seasoned.  Hey look, a compliment!  She definitely shouldn't get used to those.  Vanessa also did well with her halibut dish, which Ramsay says is the best thing he's tasted all day.

Now that everyone is done embarrassing themselves, the chefs have to divide into teams and choose captains.  Vanessa will be the captain of the women's team, while Bobby will lead the men's team.  Bobby seems far too full of himself in my opinion, and it's definitely going to come back to haunt him later.

The teams head to the kitchen and start working on recipes.  Jason immediately proves to be a charmer by announcing that he's not going to lose anything to a woman aside from an ironing contest.  However, the men's team doesn't look very impressive after Ramsay shows up and asks what the five entrées are for the dinner service.  None of them seem to have any idea, which gives the women a chance to impress the chef right off the bat.

Alright, Hell's Kitchen is open!  Petrozza and Shayna will be serving customer's tableside, which should prove amusing.  The teams start cooking, and here's where we find out that Sharon can't cook a proper risotto.  Did she not read my first paragraph?  If you're on the fourth season of this show, you better be able to cook a risotto while blindfolded and sleepwalking.  Ramsay has Jen cook the dish instead.

Jason also does a terrible job.  Not only does he step out for a cigarette at the beginning of service, but his appetizer is a disaster.  He's so incompetent that he causes Ramsay to blow his top and start screaming. Meanwhile, stay-at-home dad Dominic screws things up by cooking rubberized scallops.

Vanessa has failed as a captain due to her mousy nature, so Rosann steps up and takes over instead.  As Rosann puts it, Vanessa "is Hannah Montana, and I'm New York City!"  They have two different styles.

While Rosann steps up for the red team, Bobby refuses to help out his teammates.  He thinks it'll just confuse things if he jumps in, officially making him the worst captain ever.  Louross takes over the captain position instead, attempting to get the blue team back on track.  Three hours after service begins, food finally starts leaving the kitchen.  However, by that time the customers are starting to walk out, which forces Ramsay to. . .


With not one entrée served tonight, everyone looks like a failure, but Ramsay announces that the men have lost the battle.  Louross has to choose two of his teammates to put up for elimination.  He picks Bobby for his poor leadership skills, and Dominic for screwing up too many scallops.  When asked why he should stay in Hell's Kitchen, Dominic places the blame on Bobby, saying that he never stood a chance with such a poor captain.  Gordon looks the two of them over and decides that the person going home tonight is. . .


Bobby gets to stay because Ramsay thinks he has potential, but he just doesn't see enough creativity and natural talent in Dominic.  It's a pretty surprising decision, but I guess Chef Ramsay knows what he's doing.

Next week:  the chefs go dumpster diving!  What could be more appetizing than that?

- Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of FOX)