Since we can never have enough Gordon Ramsay in our lives, Hell’s Kitchen is back on air for its 15th season. The previews lead us to believe that it’ll be a “Kung Fu Fighting, Pants Ripping” season. I guess when you’ve done this 14 times before, you need to add a little intrigue to your promos. So I’m looking forward to seeing what crazy shenanigans Ramsay and crew will include this year to make it more unique than ever before. My guess? Someone rips their pants.
The show starts with an intro claiming that the show has become a “beacon of hope” for many chefs, before airing a zany montage of chefs losing their marbles in the kitchen. This new group of chefs is, per the show’s narrator, the “most unstable, unpredictable, imbalanced group Hell’s Kitchen has ever seen!” (Maybe due to the aforementioned pants-ripping?) The narrator reminds us that there’s no need to panic though, because the doctor is in! I guess Gordon Ramsay went to medical school between seasons.
The contestants find a slot machine that Gordon Ramsay left for them, which announces that the contestants must meet Ramsay in Las Vegas. Plane tickets emerge from the machine and everyone is psyched.
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“This is a big deal. I was in Vegas once when I was twelve. It doesn’t count!” Chad says. He anticipates a night of drinking and gambling. But the prime reason that Gordon brings them to Vegas isn’t to party — it’s because a majority of Hell’s Kitchen winners end up in Vegas after the show.
Christina Wilson, the winner of season 10, parade the new contestants alongside other Hell’s Kitchen alumni. “They closed down the strip for us!” Sherkenna states.
Eventually, Gordon shows his face. “How did you enjoy that Vegas welcome?” he asks. He then says that the winner will be the head chef at BLT Steak over at Bally’s in Vegas. “That comes with a salary of a quarter of a million dollars,” Gordon claims. For the first time ever, the signature dish challenge will happen right in the restaurant where one chef will one day call home.
The chefs have 45 minutes to get cooking and prove their worth. And while the dishes look delightful, I’m sure a few of them are disgusting, since it’s Hell’s Kitchen.
The first dish to be tasted is Sherkeena’s dish. Sherkenna is from Tennessee in a town of only 300. She made a crab-stuffed salmon, which, while tasty, “looks dreadful” to Gordon. He gives it a two out of five.
Eddie makes a deer tenderloin, and thinks it’s amazing since he’s a hunter as well as a chef. Ramsay Agrees. “The venison is cooked beautifully,” he says, giving Eddie three points.
Frank is an active duty Marine, which gets a huge amount of applause from the audience. He made penne ala vodka with grilled chicken, which is “okay, but not special.” Ramsay also gives him a three.
Ashley, who has two dads, is up next. She cooked an ostrich filet, with a blueberry red wine balsamic. “This is on the verge of being bland,” Gordon says, awarding her a two.
Dani is an amateur boxer who fought recently. “She went down,” she says. “Chef, I made for you pan seared scallops with thai curry sauce.” The dish gets the first four of the night. Mark from Anaheim makes black mussels, and isn’t as lucky, getting just a one. Meese makes a dry pork loin, which also gains a one, and Vanessa’s eggplant has similar fate.
Jared is a locksmith, a professional poker player, and has a halibut as his signature dish. “What do you think I’m going to say?” Ramsay asks. Jared thankfully guesses correctly, at four. Jackie from Jersey shows the chef a seared scallop, and it’s on the tiniest plate in the world. The lack of food actually knocks Jackie’s score down from a four to a three.
Of course, someone needs to have a terrible dish, and it’s Kevin. He makes a strange salad/pizza combination and didn’t even make his own dough. How dare you, Kevin. Might as well have heated up an Ellio’s and served it to he man.
Chef Ramsay asks Kevin if he wants to go home, and Kevin claims that he can do better. “Terrible,” Ramsay mutters.
But back to judging! Alan is a sous chef from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He made a salmon, and was adopted from a family with Amish lineage. His dish doesn’t impress the chef, who awards him with a measly one.
Kristin was on probation for “numerous things” before meeting the king of Hell’s Kitchen. “I started cooking because I was on house arrest,” Kristin laughs. And while her dish isn’t the best, it still gets a moderate score.
Ariel is up next, making a Middle Eastern dish called shakshuka. “It’s a comfort dish that oozes quality,” Ramsay admits.
Manda made corn flake fried scallops, which look like a nightmare. She’s a single Mom, and she’s on the show to give her many children a better life. “It’s not bad, but it’s a little bit weird,” says Ramsay. Manda claims that she’s also weird, which makes the dish personal! Ramsay buys it, and gives her a three.
Currently, the women are up in numbers, but Hassan, from Team Blue, ends the competition with a dish that impressed Ramsay enough to give him a four, making the first win for the men. As a reward, they get the entire VIP section of Drai’s Nightclub. The women need to peel fifty pounds of shrimp, and a whole bunch of potatoes as punishment.
The guys immediately celebrate, being served champagne by a bikini-clad Drai’s waitress. The women, however, are totally miserable, comparing the hard labor to “a I Love Lucy show episode or something.”
When the contestants head back home, they see that they’ve been gifted knives. But there’s no time for knives! A dinner service has to happen!
The Dinner Service
In the Blue Kitchen, Jared already takes on a leader role by lecturing the guys on how to slice fish. After a brief pep talk from Ramsay, Hell’s Kitchen opens.
There are a few special diners, otherwise known as “people who were in reality shows back in the day.” Remember Audrina Patridge? She’s there, and she’s hungry.
Chef Ramsay is very impressed with Alan and Kevin’s scallops, which helps give their team an easy start. In the Red Kitchen, Vanessa is on the appetizer station and is already starting to freak out. “Scared, excited, wanting to throw up … everything’s coming out,” Vanessa jokes. When Chef Ramsay approaches her about her lackluster pizza cutting, she admits that she’s extremely nervous.
Alan is already working on entrees, even though the chef hasn’t even called any of them yet. “Would you mind if we send the appetizers first?” Ramsay sasses. Poor Alan. He was doing so well, too.
The Red Kitchen seems to lose momentum, mostly due to Vanessa. Ramsay pulls a poor-looking plate, which Vanessa takes full credit for. “It’s even cold in the middle,” he grunts. “I’m trying to breathe and cook at the same time,” Vanessa shoddily claims.
Alan’s entree flub made him lose his game all together. His next round of scallops? Rubbery as all get-out. “What’s going on?” Gordon yells. What is going on, Alan?
It’s 7:04, an hour into dinner service, and the diners are starting to get antsy about their food. “No one’s stepping up, and no one’s taking charge!” Ramsay yells.
Frank steps in to help with the pizza, since he’s Italian, so I guess the team figures it’s like second nature to him. The Red Kitchen doesn’t have similar luck. Ramsay has to rearrange the kitchen to get food out, since it’s way too backed up.
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The Blue Team Crumbles
Jared and Eddie attempt to lead things as far as risotto is concerned, but Chef Ramsay isn’t impressed at all. After tasting the risotto, he spits it out and forces the two of them to leave the kitchen and eat their tasteless mistake in the dining area. So, now the Blue Kitchen is two men down.
Sherkenna is on the meat station, and thankfully cooks a beautiful Wellington. The Blue Kitchen suffers more problems and after some diners leave, Ramsay decides to kick the entire team out of the kitchen. Immediately after they leave, he calls them bozos and reprimands them to think of two bad contestants to consider for elimination tonight.
“It felt like the heavens opened up,” Kristin stated, after the Red Kitchen was the last one left.
The Blue Team deliberates in their home, and Chad thinks Mark might be the weakest link. Joe thinks that Alan and Kevin screwed up on the fish station, based on those rubbery scallops. Alan retaliates by saying that absolutely everyone “effed up.”
Now it’s the moment of truth — who’ll be sent home?
Joe nominates Mark for the burnt pizza, and Kevin based on his bad skill set. (Don’t forget, his signature dish was pretty horrific.)
“I’m just not sure that either of you are going to grow,” Ramsay says, threatening to send them both home. Mark tries to save himself by saying it’s a big thing for him to be here, which Ramsay doesn’t buy. Kevin says he’ll be coming back “bigger, better, faster, and stronger.”
The chef’s decision is to push Kevin… back in line. Since Mark is the one to go. (Really?)
Mark didn’t expect this at all, and obviously being out first is humiliating. Chef Ramsay gives a warning to the Blue Team, saying that he’s never seen a team freeze up so quickly before. Maybe it was based on all of that champagne from earlier.
Hell’s Kitchen airs on Fridays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)