Hell's Kitchen - Season Three, Episode Four Recap

Originally aired on Monday, 06/25/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: While the women continue to dominate in the shorter challenges, neither team can seem to get a streak of success going for dinner service at Hell's Kitchen.

Episode Highlights:

  • Gordon Ramsay tests the chefs' palates in a blind-and-deaf taste test.
  • The teams have another rough night when it's time for service.
  • The eliminations this week are more political than merit-based...and Ramsay's not happy about it.

Jen Yemola is still trying to recover from her terrible lapse in judgment last episode. She attributes her decision to try to serve pasta from the trash to the stress of the Hell’s Kitchen competition.

She, and all the other chefs, hope to redeem themselves in the next challenge. Ramsay brings them into the Hell’s Kitchen main room in order to test their palates. The teams will pit one chef against the other, and each individual will have the chance to taste an item while blindfolded and with headphones on. The team to correctly identify the most items will win.

First up is Julia Williams vs. Brad Miller. She gives the women an early lead by correctly identifying American cheese (Brad thinks it’s Cheddar). They both correctly identify fried chicken, but both miss boiled carrots.

The next pairing is Melissa vs. Rock Harper. Rock correctly identifies hard-boiled egg yolk, which Melissa thinks is potato. They both correctly guess potato for the next choice, but neither correctly identifies venison.

When Bonnie Muirhead and Josh Wahler match up, Bonnie at first has some technical difficulties as she continues to be able to hear Ramsay despite the headphones. Eventually they seem to get it working, and Bonnie misses lobster just by a little by guessing langoustine, while Josh thinks it’s scallops. She gets the next item correct – bok choi stem – while Josh thinks it’s radish. She also gets the last item correct, pear, while Josh thinks it’s mango. She says in interview she has a good palate.

Going into the last heat, the women have a five to three lead. Vinnie Fama would have to get the first taste right to keep the men in the game, but unfortunately for his team, he thinks the seared tuna is pancetta. The women have once again won a challenge, making this their third win.

The men’s team is dismayed to learn that their punishment is to do the prep work for both kitchens, and to have to sample a whole platter-ful of offal: kidney, tripe, liver. They are upset, claiming that Bonnie must have cheated and could continue to hear Ramsay once she said she was fully muffled. They think her exact answer of “bok choi stem,” which were the precise words Ramsay used to refer to it, proves them right. She dismisses their claims and the women head off to enjoy their prize.

Meanwhile, the men have to eat their way through the offal. Rock nearly throws up, and it seems that most, if not all, of the men are grossed out. This seems curious for serious chefs who usually are fairly open-minded about all kinds of food.

The women’s prize is a trip to an unusual restaurant where the entire service takes place in the dark so as to increase the taste and sensual experience of eating the food. The women once again have the chance to talk with Ramsay outside the pressure cooker environment of the kitchen.

However, the friendliness won’t last long, as it’s time for that night’s service, and, as Ramsay informs the teams, their success will be determined by the comment cards returned by the diners.

The blue team gets off to a rocky start; Josh struggles to get out his appetizers and Rock is called out by Ramsay to help get things back on track.

Over on the red team, Julia also slows down her team by overcooking her scallops, but it’s Melissa’s lack of communication with Ramsay and his perception that she’s not working with her team that earns her the dressing down instead of Julia.

With Rock pitching in, the men start to get out their appetizers, but then hit another roadblock with the entrees when Vinnie keeps messing up the Wellingtons.

The red team also has problems with their entrees. Bonnie can’t seem to get it together with the meat, and her flustered answers to Ramsay infuriate him. Nevertheless, they somehow manage to get out twice as many entrees as the men after two hours.

A customer gets angry at the amount of time she has had to wait, and heads back to speak with Ramsay, who tells her to get lost. These moments are so clearly staged, it’s a mystery why they keep setting them up.

Both Bonnie and Vinnie continue to sink their team. Ramsay discovers Vinnie’s “private trash” where he set aside the ruined food. Ramsay is horrified at the money Vinnie threw away that evening. Bonnie, meanwhile, has totally lost sight of the goal, and when Melissa pitches in to try to help, it just muddles things further. Ramsay becomes apoplectic.

Once the diners start sending back their dishes for a variety of flaws, it’s pretty much all over. He shuts everything down.

Bonnie breaks down in tears, and after Ramsay tears down both teams, and elects Rock to select a nominee for his team, and Jen, a nominee for hers, Bonnie is certain she’s going home.

Vinnie’s pretty sure that he’s going home as well, but is that Rock’s strategy? Maybe not, and Vinnie’s advice to Jen is do the same: nominate a threat.

Both Rock and Jen do, with Rock nominating Josh and Jen nominating Melissa. Ramsay can’t believe what he’s hearing, and overrules them, bringing Bonnie and Vinnie to the carpet. Vinnie tries to defend himself by saying he has the most experience. Bonnie admits she messed up, but says she is learning from her errors.

And it’s Vinnie who is turning in his chef’s coat – Ramsay doesn’t think he can go any further. Bonnie is safe to try once again to improve her performance in service next episode.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Fox)