Hell's Kitchen: Season 4 Finale, Part 1 Recap
Last week on Hell's Kitchen, the three remaining chefs attempted to impress Gordon Ramsay by recreating one of his dishes based on nothing but a taste test.  This led to Christina's third challenge win in a row, but she struggled along with the other players when Ramsay allowed everyone a chance to take charge of the kitchen during dinner service.  This is when we learned that Corey doesn't like to yell at people, Christina has a screechy voice, and Petrozza can't spot an incomplete risotto.  Despite everyone's leadership difficulties, Ramsay ultimately decided that it was Corey's turn to pack her knives and go.

Tonight on part one of the Hell's Kitchen season finale, the final two contestants make their signature dishes, design their own restaurants, and even meet Whoopi Goldberg!  I'm not even joking about that last part.  I hope someone asks her what it was like to star in Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Before the episode begins we get a ridiculously long recap of everything that's happened this season.  Aww, I forgot all about incompetent Rosann and Craig's giant chef's hat.  I suddenly feel like this season's been going on for a thousand years, and it's probably going to feel like double that with all the filler that's bound to be padding out tonight's installment.  You know, filler like a ten minute recap of the entire season.

Approximately four years later when the episode actually starts, Ramsay lets the final two know that they'll each get to design their own restaurant.  Or their own half of Hell's Kitchen, to be more precise.  After the chefs go back to the dorm to plan their menus, wacky tuba music lets us know that Petrozza is a lazy schlub while Christina is a diligent worker.  She has her menu ready to go the next morning, but he continues to struggle.  Between the kooky music and the Odd Couple vibe that these two give off, I'm expecting FOX to spin them off into their own crazy sitcom.  Maybe Jen can show up for guest spots as the cantankerous neighbor.

The chefs meet with the Hell's Kitchen designer to decide what their restaurants should look like.  Petrozza wants flowers, candles and warmth, while Christina wants an abundance of brown.  She also wants her wait staff to be dressed all in black, so apparently she's going for a drab and boring feel.  Petrozza wants his wait staff to be dressed in bright colors, which at least makes Jean-Philippe happy.

With the menus completely planned, Ramsay calls the chefs up to his office.  He fakes them out by telling them he's been wondering if he has the right finalists, then takes a long pause before ensuring them that he knows he does.  I'd expect that kind of thing from Mary Murphy, but that's a low blow for Ramsay.  Christina and Petrozza get a chance to fly to New York to visit Ramsay's restaurant, which should give them a feel for the environment one of them will be working in.  On the plane ride across the country, numerous flashbacks to the chefs' greatest moments provide lots and lots of delicious filler.

The chefs step out of a limo in Times Square and see a giant screen welcoming them to New York.  I'm surprised the final two didn't leak out on the Internet with all this hubbub.  Aside from that surprise, Ramsay also tells them that they'll get to go to Dubai to visit another of his restaurants.  I assume that'll be happening after the show, because there's no time for trips across the ocean when we have filler to get to.

After arriving at The London restaurant, Ramsay tells the chefs to create their signature dishes.  Petrozza goes for filet mignon while Christina cooks up a New York strip steak.  Petrozza pulls a fancy trick that makes a green onion look like a paintbrush, but Christina prefers clean, simple food.  As if having their food judged by Ramsay isn't stressful enough, he lets five of his executive chefs from around the world judge the dishes.  Whoever racks up three votes from the experts will win the challenge.

Though both chefs have their food criticized for a variety of reasons, they're eventually tied at two and two.  The tiebreaker just happens to be the man who will be bossing the winner around at The London West Hollywood.  He chooses Petrozza as the winner, which marks a nice change of pace from Christina's string of victories.  For winning the challenge, Petrozza will get first choice of which eliminated Hell's Kitchen contestant he wants to work with in the final dinner service.  Christina will be stuck with the last pick, which probably means she'll be working with Jen.

Petrozza nearly has a heart attack when Whoopi Goldberg comes out from behind the crowd and meets everybody.  I believe his exact words are, "Oh my God, oh my God!  Whoopi Goldberg!  Mahhhhh!"  Before anyone can ask her about that comedy classic Jumpin' Jack Flash, the chefs are whisked back to L.A. to see how their restaurants are coming along.  Christina is horrified that her wallpaper is striped, but Petrozza is thrilled with his design.

Christina has the designers repaint her walls so they don't look like mocha colored zebras, then prepares for the final challenge.  The next day, Ramsay brings back six of the eliminated competitors.  Petrozza gets first choice of who to work with, so he picks Bobby and Ben.  Christina snags Corey and Louross, which then leaves Petrozza with the horrible task of choosing between Jen or Matt.  Because FOX hates me and wants to drag everything out as long as possible, the episode ends there.

Next week on the second half of the Hell's Kitchen season finale, Christina and Petrozza face off in a culinary battle to the death.

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