Guest blogger John-John Williams IV returns with his thoughts on last night's premiere of the new season of Hell's Kitchen on Fox. Take it away, John-John!
I've watched Hell's Kitchen for the past three or four seasons—give or take – and I have never witnessed the type of antics I saw on last night's season premiere. You would think that you've seen it all when a reality television show hits season six. But last night's show included all types of firsts in the series.
Die-hard fans please correct me if I'm wrong, but has a contestant ever challenged Chef Gordon Ramsay to a fist-fight in the parking lot? Has Ramsay ever thrown someone off the show during the season premiere in the middle of dinner service? What about offering the winner of this season to be the head chef of a restaurant in Canada? And how about bringing back a contestant from a past season to compete in another one?
Trust me, this two-hour season premiere definitely piqued my interest. I will eagerly be watching the rest of the season.
First off, I don't think that this year's 16 contestants are all that impressive. They make stupid mistakes in the kitchen. (How many times was a piece of halibut, a scallop, shrimp, or chicken severely undercooked throughout the two disastrous dinner services?) The hopefuls have major attitude. And they are not afraid -- or respectful enough — not to get into near fights with others. (This includes Ramsay and his staff.)
Things started off normally enough. The contestants arrived at Hell's Kitchen. They were greeted with a series of video messages from former contestants Bonnie from season 3, Aaron from season 4, and Colleen from last season. The three alumni tell the newcomers: make sure they turn on the heat before cooking; taste their food before they serve it; and don't cry in the kitchen. It soon becomes apparent that each one of these rules will be broken repeatedly throughout the course of the season.
Anyhoo, the contestants are immediately asked to flex their culinary muscles when they are challenged to cook their signature dish. Each contestant has 45 minutes to wow Ramsay.
Some contestants -- Tek, Tennille, Tony, and Van — get Ramsay's approval. While others — Suzanne, Melinda, Lovely, and Louie — irk Ramsay more than anything. Ramsay spits out Louie's biscuits and gravy.
This season, Ramsay immediately splits up the contestants by gender and forms two teams. He turns the signature dish activity into a challenge, and the men's team wins. As a reward they are to eat dinner at Ramsay's London West Hollywood restaurant. The women have to clean the entire dirty-pot-and-dish-filled kitchen as punishment. After the women finish cleaning the kitchen they spend the rest of the night studying recipes and the menu for dinner service in Hell's Kitchen. The guys continue their celebrating by drinking champagne and swimming in the hot tub.
All the partying really doesn't affect the guys the next day because everyone is horrible during the dinner service.
The women repeatedly mess up on appetizers. The men – specifically Louie-- have problems cooking meat. Melinda gets yelled at by Ramsay after he discovers that she has thrown away perfectly good pasta. Lovely leaves the kitchen because she feels sick and is absent for about 45 minutes while she consumes several bottles of water. (Oh brother!!!) Meanwhile, Amanda freezes salmon by accident, which enrages Ramsay. Louie further irks Ramsay by ruining like a gazillion lamb chops. Ramsay has enough of Louie and kicks him off the show! (There's one of the firsts I was talking about.) Louie mouths off at the confessional camera. (Blah, blah, blah.) Meanwhile, a disgusted Ramsay closes down the kitchen early.
He then asks Robert – a contestant from last season who left the show early for medical reasons -- to join the show. Robert gladly accepts.
Ramsay then goes off on the contestants. He announces that the women are the losing team. As a result they must chose two members of their team for eviction. They chose Melinda and Amanda, who insists that Lovely should really be the one up on the chopping block. It doesn't matter in the end. Ramsay sends Melinda home packing. (She really needed to go. She always looked confused. And she didn't do anything correct as far as I could see.) Ramsay then assigns Robert to the women's team. The women rejoice because they think that Robert will be their savior.
Sure, Robert gives the women some tips. But those tips don't help when the women's team loses the next day's shrimp cleaning challenge. As punishment, the women have to clean a legion of shrimp for the night's dinner service. The men's team goes to lunch with Ramsay, and later enjoys a yacht ride. During the lunch, Joseph starts mouthing off at Ramsay again. He informs everyone that he doesn't really care about eating lunch with Ramsay. He wants to compete in the kitchen. (During the signature dish challenge, Joseph had demanded that Ramsay gives him a fork. He also lips off to Ramsay a little bit.)
Fast-forward to the night's dinner service. Both teams are disastrous — again!
Van and Tennille are chosen to make scampi tableside during the dinner service.
Tony messes up repeatedly. First he shows that he can't cut grapefruit. He also screws up by cooking scallops ahead of time. He's on his way out! Robert screws up risotto, and Ramsay yells at him.
Van starts arguing with Ramsay's head waiter, Jean-Philippe. The two get into a shoving match when Jean-Philippe attempts to chastise Van for running in the restaurant. Ramsay steps in and mediates.
Meanwhile, Tennille struggles on scampi appetizers and brings her team to a halt. Sabrina tries to serve raw chicken, which angers Ramsay. Tony moves on to messing up halibut. Kevin takes over for him, and incorrectly cooks the fish as well. In the women's kitchen, Lovely messes up cooking sea bass.
Ramsay has enough. He tells everyone to stop cooking and start serving shrimp cocktail since this is a cold dish that they cannot incorrectly cook. After the shrimp cocktail is served, Ramsay shuts down the kitchen early — again!
Ramsay informs the contestants that neither team has won the challenge, so both teams need to nominate two contestants for eviction.
The women chose Lovely and Tennille. A fight almost breaks out between Van and Jim, after Jim suggests that Van be put up for eviction because of his scuffle with Jean-Philippe. Van gets really irate with Jim and basically challenges him to a fight. (What a hot head!) But this is nothing compared to what happens during the eviction.
We never find out who is evicted this episode because Joseph begins mouthing off at Ramsay — again! This time, Joseph refuses to name the reason why Tony and ??? have been nominated for eviction. He gives some stupid explanation about his teammates being men, so they don't need to explain why they were nominated. Oh yeah, Ramsay calls Joseph "stupid" repeatedly, which gets Joseph to start cursing at Ramsay. He then starts lashing out at the other contestants who are trying to calm him down.
The episode ends with Joseph ripping off his chef's coat, and charging Ramsay, challenging him to a fist-fight in the parking lot. (Whoa!) The audience is left wondering which contestant or contestants will be kicked off the show; and whether or not Ramsay and Joseph throw down.
I can't wait for next week's episode!