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
It’s been a quick week since the premiere of Season 5. For those living in L.A., it is restaurant week, and we have been busier than ever at The Gordon Ramsay. I was once asked, “Why would you want to work fifteen hours in a kitchen, then come home and watch a TV show about other people working in a kitchen?” The answer is, “To see my boss covered in risotto.”
Episode 2 started to look a little familiar, when the contestants marched outside to see a mountain of garbage. This is the worst. In preparation for the show, I bought a new set of pajamas. I knew, having seen the previous season, that at some point we were going to be woken up by the sous chefs, and I didn’t want to be caught on national television in my comfy rags. Sure enough, in the second episode, we were woken up and herded downstairs. I didn’t even have time to grab a pair of shoes. Crawling around in the garbage was not a good use of new clothes, and the stains, let alone the stench, never came out.
This year, the contestants had to grab fresh scallops from a large bin of sea water. I took a small amount of guilty pleasure in watching Colleen fall in. Then again, if this were my season, that probably would have been me.
On to the challenge. I wasn’t surprised that the chefs had little experience dealing with fresh scallops. In Europe, it is popular to eat the whole scallop, much like one would a clam or a mussel. Here in the US, however, we only eat the abductor muscle, and the product is often more fresh, and less expensive when only that part is purchased.
Even though the men won the butchery challenge, Robert missed out on most of the reward. I had a chance to meet up with Robert earlier this week, and I have to boast that my first impression was spot on. He is talented, genuine, and promises to make this season very interesting. Although it saddened me that Robert couldn’t join in the reward, I have to wonder if maybe he was lucky to be spared Forrest’s retelling of Gordon’s life. Was that creepy to anyone else? I work for Gordon, and have probably spent more time with him than anyone else in my kitchen. Still, I do not know all of the details that Forrest was spewing. Weird.
Back in the kitchen, Ji slipped and injured her ankle, leading to her courageous withdrawal from Hell’s Kitchen. I cannot tell you how many sizzle reels there are of me falling from last season. In one clip, we were racing against the boys to complete a dinner service. I was bringing the last dessert order to the pass, and felt myself going down. I looked at the two items in my hand, a souffle and a creme brulee, and decided to save the souffle, as it took 20 minutes just to bake. The floor is treacherous. It is not like a real kitchen. It is more like industrial linoleum, where any water or food scrap is a potential hazard. You learn this as you advance in Hell’s Kitchen, and try to work around it. It just angers me that such a stupid accident took out one of this season’s strongest competitors so far. I hear that Ji is fine now, but I wish she would have toughed it out. Gordon loves a fighter. Heather West burned her hand in Season Two, but stuck it out, and took home the victory. I was sick most of my stay in Hell’s Kitchen, and during the finale, I kept repeating to myself, “This is one more day for the rest of my life. I can make it through this. Just one more day.” So to future contestants, when you injure yourself, and you will injure yourself, fight back. Take it one day at a time. It is an easy penance to change your life.
Which brings us to the close. Fourteen chefs remain. Lacey and Colleen, you both dodged a bullet, big time. These kinds of chances don’t come around twice. Next week, Ramsay brings on the beef, and in the mean time, I keep earning the bacon.
Until next week, 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