Tonight: Part One of the Danny vs. Paula face-off begins now!

But first, we see a wee-cap of this rollercoaster ride we call Hell’s Kitchen Season 5, and watch as the other 14 chefs fall to Danny and Paula’s talents, one after another. If you expect me to recap this recap of the episodes I have already recapped… think again, my friend. Because if you’re reading this, you know what happened, right? Lacey was annoying! Carol was mean! Ben was loud! Colleen was inexplicable! Robert was awesome! Andrea was bossy! Et cetera, and so forth. Last week, Andrea hit her expiration date in Hell’s Kitchen.

Danny and Paula are now the final two chefs vying for the ultimate reward: $250,000, and an executive chef position at the Borgata resort in Atlantic City.

'Hell's Kitchen' Recap: Season 5 Finale Part One

To start us off, Ramsay tells Danny and Paula that their final challenge begins now. He splits the dining, projecting each of their faces onto either side of Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon compels each of them to get creative and get working right away on their vision for a dream restaurant.

Danny and Paula hug and laugh as they run upstairs to get started. They are each so excited to be in the final two, and I couldn’t imagine two more talented and positive chefs to watch in the end. They toast their success with champagne… and then keep on drinking into the night. Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, they’re still up and drinking at 2 AM! Morning comes quickly (6:30 AM) and Danny is HUNG. OVER. So is Paula, but she says she’s a pro on the drinking front, so she’s not too worried. Paula rushes to write down ideas, and Danny still has nothing down on paper, when they go down to Hell’s Kitchen to get going on creating their dream restaurants.

Waiting for them is John Janavs, the Hell’s Kitchen architect and designer. Each gets one-on-one time to discuss aesthetics with him, and Danny has a hard time communicating his vision–and then gets shut down when he pitches a “mounted fish” idea. John tells him he needs to think a little higher end. Ouch. Paula wants to name her restaurant “Sunergy,” and John doesn’t seem too jazzed about it. Danny has two names in mind: “Velvet Hammer,” his nickname in high school, or “Susan Marie,” his mother’s name. She passed away a few years ago, and John says that would be a fitting tribute.

Danny works with Scott and Paula working with Gloria to develop their menus. Paula says she intends to keep hers simple, keeping with her staff in mind, because it’s most important to deliver on execution.

Ramsay arrives and asks how the champagne was, and Paula and Danny give up some knowing smiles. He then tells them they’re going to Atlantic City again for some “unfinished business.” But they can’t afford to leave the restaurants unattended, so he’s brought in two advisors for each of them. While they’re in AC, the advisors will be their eyes and ears on the construction of each of their restaurants. Ramsay brings out Paula’s mother and sister and Danny’s father and girlfriend. Danny says he has an edge because his dad is in construction and his girlfriend knows his style perfectly. Paula and Danny have only five minutes to discuss their ideas with their families. Paula emphasizes that she doesn’t want girlie or froofy anything, and NO PINK. They say goodbye nervously, wishing they could be there themselves to see how the restaurants turn out.

The chefs board the plane to Atlantic City and drink more champagne with Gordon. Ramsay reminisces with Danny about his poor signature dish tasting in the beginning, the Mahi Gone Bananas. He asks if Paula and Danny sized each other up early on, and they say they saw each other’s potentials right away. Paula says her favorite reward was the live segment on Good Day LA. They toast as they land in Atlantic City, and check out their massive suite. Inside the room, they pop more champagne and settle in.

Back in Hell’s Kitchen, construction is going strong, and there’s a problem with Paula’s candles–the fire marshal won’t allow real ones. John pitches fake candles to the mother and sister, which initially Paula said she didn’t want. On the other side, Danny’s girlfriend is taking over, and John looks a little worried that she is changing the plans.

The chefs get video conferences with their advisors, and Danny’s dad and girlfriend say that John is forcing a lot of compromises on them, but they managed to get some classy looking metal fish to put up. Paula’s sister tells her about the minor candle issue, and she’s still a little confused by Paula’s vision, but they still have time, and a lot of work to do.

The next day, Danny and Paula get a knock on their door from the Borgata director of marketing, and they arrive at an important mystery “meeting,” not knowing what it’s for. They walk in to clapping and screaming of 500 staff members of the resort. Ramsay then introduces the Chief Operating Officer of the Borgata, Larry Mullin. He’s their potential new boss. Ramsay hands each menu to Mullin, and asks what he would order from each. Mullin names Danny’s jerked lobster tail, arugula salad with duck, and beef fillet. He then says he would have Paula’s warm wild mushroom salad, shellfish medley, and roasted black sea bass. He says each menu looks great, and then Ramsay tells them their next challenge: to cook what Mullin ordered from the menus. He brings out brand new chefs’ jackets for each, and now Paula and Danny have 45 minutes to fulfill the order.

They rush to the kitchen and prepare the order, then bring back the dishes to the stage. Each dish will go head to head in three individual tastings.

For the first taste, they welcome an executive chef of one of the other Borgata restaurants. He tastes Danny’s lobster versus Paula’s mushroom salad, and chooses Paula’s. For the next dish, another executive chef comes on stage. He tastes Paula’s shellfish in a chili cilantro broth and Danny’s Baby arugula salad with crispy skin duck breast. Danny is sweating, because if he loses this one, he’s done. But he need not worry, because he wins this tasting. It’s now one to one. For the third and final dish, Larry Mullin, the COO, will cast the deciding vote. Paula presents her roasted black sea bass, and Danny his pan-seared fillet of beef with a twice-baked potato.

It’s a tie, and Mullin has a tough call. He finally says that… Danny wins! He finally managed a win over Paula. She is disappointed, but she tried hard and came close. Ramsay says Danny will find out his reward later. Right now, they need to head back to Hell’s Kitchen.

With 19 hours until the final service, the chefs return and see the construction progress on their sides of the dining room. Paula is happy to see no pinks and purples, and overall she’s not too worried about the restaurant, even though it’s far from being done. Danny loves the fish on the walls, and butts heads with John a bit about his bench concept, again. He’s more nervous about how his side is going to come together.

The families hug goodnight, and rest up for the next day.


It’s the final morning, and each is nervous and excited. They walk into the kitchen and see Ramsay. He pitches one more challenge: under six domes on the table in front of him are “key ingredients” for their dinner service that night. Scott and Gloria help him open the domes, and underneath are the heads of six eliminated chefs: Giovanni, Lacey, Carol, Andrea, Ben, and LA! It’s a good prank, though pretty expected. Ramsay greets the six, and we get a little montage of why each of them was eliminated from Hell’s Kitchen.

Ramsay tells Danny his prize from the challenge is having first pick. He picks Ben. Ben says Danny is the underdog, and he always roots for the underdog. Paula chooses her girl Andrea, and they hug. Paula says she wants Andrea because she never gives up.

Danny then chooses Giovanni, so the remaining Blues Brothers are together again. Paula then chooses LA, and Carol is upset to be the second to last. Danny (of course) picks Carol, and Paula gets stuck with Lacey. Andrea says if Lacey so much as opens her mouth, she’s going to come at her “like a tornado.” As he sends them upstairs to prepare, Ramsay tells the brigades they need to bond, and get in the mindset that Paula and Danny are their bosses today.

So concludes Part One of the Hell’s Kitchen Season 5 Finale. 

Next time on HK: The two Floridians head up their brigades in the most important dinner service of their lives… and I’m willing to bet big money that Lacey makes Paula’s life pretty hellish!

Next Thursday at 9 PM EST: Join me when I livethought the Hell’s Kitchen finale, and we finally see who can stand the heat in Hell’s Kitchen! (After which I will be taking questions for the final two chefs for our exit interviews… feel free to submit any questions for Paula and Danny now in the comments section or via our BuddyTV Twitter!)

And don’t forget: Hell’s Kitchen Fantasy TV is in its last leg! Make your final choice now for a chance to be at the top of the leaderboard!

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.