Guest blogger John-John Williams IV reports:
Like an old monster movie, Hell's Kitchen opened with a camera snaking through the set of the show. Eerie music was then paired with clips of host Gordon Ramsay verbally ripping apart last years contestants. Finally the camera rested on Ramsay, who was standing atop a swiveling floor.
"The dark lord reigns again," the ominous voice of the announcer boomed as Ramsay appeared in and out of the darkness as lightning flashed.
It might seem a bit overdone, but Ramsay is the ultimate bad boy. He has the uncanny ability to strike fear in most people. He's made plenty of men and women sweat and cry. This season will be no different. A minute-long clip of teasers for the new season of Hell's Kitchen showed Ramsay cursing out, screaming at and belittling contestants. (How I've missed this show.)
Some might think Ramsay is mean. I think he's simply protecting his investment. (The winner of this year's show will win $250,000 and the position of executive chef of one of Ramsay's restaurants in Los Angeles. )
Ramsay got right down to business during the premiere of the fourth season. He challenged contestants to make their "signature dish" in 45 minutes or less. For the most part, the contestants did terribly. Then Ramsay broke them into two teams — men against the women. The women kicked butt and the men had to send someone home.
Here's a breakdown of each of the contestants, as well as how they fared in episode one:
* Ben Caylor, 29, an electrician and former chef from Charlotte, N.C. (He wasn't on camera enough to get a good sense of his abilities. Pretty forgettable so far.)
* Louis Petrozza, 47, a catering director from Charlotte, N.C. (Cooked a dry hen in a pumpkin. Ramsay hated it.)
* Matt Sigel, 35, a sous chef from Pine Hill, N.J. (Made a horrendous meal of venison and diver scallops, caviar, lime zest, capers and white chocolate. Ramsay literally vomited in a garbage can after eating it.)
* Craig Schneider, 30, a sous chef from Coram, N.Y. (Wore a tall chef hat to compensate for his lack of height. Ramsay told him never to wear the hat again or he "would shove it up his butt sideways." )
* Jason Underwood, 29, a sous chef from Las Vegas. (Ramsay told him that his pasta dish tasted like it was poured out of a tin can.)
* Christina Machamer, 25, a culinary student from St. Louis, Mo. (Ramsay was unimpressed with her cooking.)
* Corey Earling, 25, a private chef from Brooklyn, N.Y. (Ramsay called her dish plain and boring.)
* Jennifer Gavin, 24, a line cook from Chicago. (Ramsay didn't like her risotto during the individual challenge, but she got her act together for the group restaurant challenge when he praised her cooking.)
* Rosann Fama, 33, a receptionist and former cook from Staten Island, N.Y. (Ramsay liked her spicy mussel soup. She stepped in as the leader of the women's group after Vanessa failed to take charge in the kitchen.)
* Sharon Stewart, 31, a room service chef from Las Vegas. (Some of the other contestants think she is a bit ditzy. I think they have a point.)
* Shayna Zodoka, 28, owner of a catering company from Buffalo, N.Y. (Didn't do that well in the restaurant group challenge.)
* Vanessa Gunnell, 31, a line cook from Bozeman, Mont. (Ramsay loved her pan-seared halibut; she fumbled a bit during the group restaurant challenge.)
* Bobby Anderson, 37, an executive chef from Niagara Falls, N.Y. (Calls himself the "Black Gordon Ramsay." Very arrogant; hasn't shown that he has the goods to back up the gab. He completely stunk as the leader of the men's team during the restaurant challenge. Was placed in the bottom two by Louross.)
* Louross Edralin, 24, a hotel cook from Las Vegas. (Emerged as a leader during the group challenge where Ramsay asked him to take over for a failing Bobby.)
, 43, a stay-at-home dad from Catawba, S.C. (After a disastrous effort in the first group restaurant challenge, Ramsay sent him packing for over-cooking scallops.)