If you watch Hell’s Kitchen, you already know that Christina Machamer overcame exceptional odds to win of the fourth season of the notorious show, becoming the executive sous chef at Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood Hotel. Check in each week as Christina “dishes up” her insights on Hell’s Kitchen‘s fifth season, her notorious new boss, and life after reality TV stardom.

By Christina Machamer

“Horrible, unfair, worst string of eliminations in reality TV history. Seth vs. Charlie? Seth is less qualified to stay in Hell’s kitchen than a sophomore home ec student. Why, or better yet, where do they find such idiots to compete on this show? With the exception of one or two contestants, none of these baboons deserve to be called chefs!”

Yeah, I thought the same thing too. Then I remembered that Hell’s Kitchen is filmed. (In fact, season 5 wrapped right after my season over a year ago.) It takes two days to film one 43-minute episode. Contestants are filmed and wearing microphones the entire time. Much of our experience is edited out. For example, after Matt was traded to the red team, all of the girls decided they were going to target him for elimination. Later that night, Matt and I had a long talk out on the patio. Matt had no friends in Hell’s Kitchen, and, in truth, I didn’t either. That night we formed an alliance. Although Gordon may have the final say, I believe that this “friendship” was pivotal in both of us making it to the final six.

After Shayna’s elimination, my boyfriend asked, “Who is she? I swear she was never on the show before this.” To us, Shayna was a huge character. She was outgoing and funny, but she just never really did anything to stand out.

Or, take the inverse. During his time in Hell’s Kitchen, Jason was nothing but respectful to his female competitors. He has a beautiful girlfriend whom he adores. Yet four out of 400 hundred comments he made ended up on the show, and he looked like a male chauvinist pig.

When watching this show, you must take it in stride, and remember that editing leads us to our opinions as viewers. Jen made a great deal of obnoxious comments on season 4. She wasn’t always that horrible, but when certain comments and actions are put together, the villain emerges.

What does this say about season 5?

Why can’t these “chefs” even get a Caesar salad order correct? Most of it has to do with nerves. Chef Ramsay can be quite intimidating. Orders are called out quickly, you have usually only worked a station once or twice, and most cooks have never worked in a brigade system before. This show is not about skill, it is about cooking food to an exceptional standard in the worst possible circumstances. Dinner service also lasts typically four hours, fifteen minutes of which are aired. What we see is more of a highlight reel.

Why is Lacey so pathetic? OK, not everything can be blamed on editing. I am not a Lacey fan, but no sleep can affect anyone. I think she knows that she is in over her head, and that makes her defensive. Also, I do not believe that she has ever worked as hard as she is now. The average day in Hell’s Kitchen lasts between 16 and 20 hours. There is no outlet for your stress, so you can swallow it and move on or claim to be sick, and leave your team hanging while you take a nap.

Why was Charlie (or Wil) eliminated instead of Seth? I am sure it was not simply because of his dismal performance as a waiter. If Charlie had the skills to remain in Hell’s kitchen, his plea would have noted a perfect service, or an item well-prepared. Instead, he just said that he had more experience than Seth, and really who doesn’t? I believe that Charlie screwed up more than a lobster pasta with no lobster.

Still, Gordon Ramsay was not short of candidates for elimination. I am often asked if actors are hired for the show, as we all, at some point, look like no-talent fools. No one escapes Hell’s kitchen without a lashing from Gordon or some more physical injury. We all did and said the things you see on the show, and no, we are not actors. Many of the contestants have more talent than is portrayed. This is part of making a successful show. If we all looked like pros, and cooked things spot on who would watch? This show would be boring. It is our mistakes and triumphs that make this show interesting. So while competing in the show is far more exciting than being a viewer, we will have to wait for the DVD deleted scenes to get the whole scoop. In the meantime, eat well and be well.

After graduating at the top of her class from The Culinary Institute of America and putting in decades of work in some of the country’s top kitchens, Christina Machamer’s hard work has been rewarded with a
Hell’s Kitchen triumph. Now settled into her new West Hollywood digs, she and her partner Cory Lemieux venture into the artisan spice trade with their online company bcbcblends.com. Look for Christina, as she travels the country, seeking out food shows, farmer’s markets, and a possible location for her next culinary adventure.

Read more by Christina:
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: A Bar Mitzvah To Remember
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: V-C-I-T-O-R-Y?
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: The Pressure Cooker
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: Another One Gigabytes the Dust!
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: Chef Ramsay Loves a Fighter
Hell’s Kitchen Insider: First Impression

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