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Hell's Kitchen 11

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HK11, Ep. 8

The Challenge was to herd barnyard animals (pigs, goats, lambs, chickens, turkeys, ducks) into pens marked with a starch ingredient which would be cooked with that protein. The teams had 10 minutes to do the herding and the men finished long before the women, but the women did get all the proteins required. The next phase was to cook the specified combination in 40 minutes and have each teams pick their 5 best dishes for presentation. Michael’s goat dish was chosen over Dan’s and Dan felt slighted.  Chef/Owner John Shook of Animal came to be the Guest Judge. Here were the selected dishes paired by protein:

Nedra – turkey, sweet potatoes, sweet potato strings                                               1
Ray – 2 types turkey meatballs and spaghetti                                                            0

Susan – duck breasts and citrus couscous                                                                   1     
Anthony – seared duck                                                                                                 0 

Amanda – pork, couscous, spinach                                                                             0
Barret—pan-seared pork, asparagus                                                                           1       

Mary – lamb ragout                                                                                                        0
Zach – lamb, potatoes                                                                                                   1

Ja’nel – goat/wild mushroom ragout                                                                           1
Michael – goat ribs with couscous, scallions                                                                0     

Chef Shook’s response after tasting Michael’s ribs, “This is something I would feed my dog.” He also rated Ja’nel’s the best of all the dishes he rated. So the women won 3 points to 2 and their reward was a VIP visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific, where they got to pet penguins and snorkel with dolphins. Ramsay asked for Dan to bring up his goat ribs dish, which John Shook and Ramsay both stated was much better than Michael’s. They did not say it was good enough to win over Ja’nel’s and I doubt if that was true. The men had to clean, cook and prepare lunch for all the barnyard animals and to set up a petting zoo for Family Night.

Family Night involved a special children’s menu of margherita pizza, cheeseburger with French fries and panko-crusted chicken fingers Child meals were to be served with parent appetizers. Chef Ramsay’s family was there and Chef James’ pregnant wife was too. Ramsay wanted them treated by the Blue team as VIPs.

Dan started by burning the bottom of a pizza. Jacqueline screwed up with rubbery scallops. The Blue team bounced back from a rough start. When the order for Ramsay’s wife’s table came in, Ray sent a cold cheeseburger to the pass. Mary on meat and Jacqueline on fish were critical to the success of the Red team. Mary really excelled, particularly with Wellingtons, and Nedra stated that “Mary is on the money tonight.” Barret had raw lamb and had to refire it before it was OK. In general, his meat dishes were cooked inconsistently. There was an order for Chef James’ wife and Barret screwed up with raw chicken. The women finished and were sent to help the men complete the dinner service.

As has become the norm recently, Ramsay requested the Blue team to nominate 2 chefs they wanted to get rid of.  The nominees were Barret for his poor meat performance and Dan for his attitude problems. Ramsay selected Dan for elimination and gain I think he did the remaining blue team members a favor. “My message to the Blue Team is to shove it up your ass" were Dan's parting comment.

Ramsay pointedly stated that the Blue team had won one of 6 challenges and 1 of 6 dinner services. He urged them to clean up their act.

As HK11 moves forward, I am seeing other talent besides Michael (who has managerial skills but not necessarily outstanding chef talent). Zach has not been consistent but he has usually been strong. The strongest contender from the Red team has clearly been Ja'nel.

How well all do on blind taste tests will say a lot about who makes it to the final 3, but it could be these 3. 

HK11, Ep. 9

Ramsay announced that it is Steak night in Hell’s Kitchen. Nedra reminded the Red team that it would be a good time to eat humble pie and not gloat over their prior dinner service victory. The Challenge is a cookoff using the various major cuts of beef. The chefs have 40 minutes to cook and develop an appropriate sauce or rub from a wide variety of ingredients. Here were their dishes paired up cut by cut:

Cyndi                                            0
Jon                                                1

Nedra/Susan                                 1
Zach                                              1

NY Strip
Amanda                                         0
Michael                                          0

Jacqueline                                     1
Anthony                                        1

Hangar Steak
Ja’nel                                             1
Barret                                            0

Mary                                               1
Ray                                                 0   
The women won the challenge 4 to 3. The mean were beating up on Ray because he went last, but that was unfair because Barret and Michael also were beaten in the head-to-head competitions with Ja’Nel (very tough to beat) and Amanda (not tough to beat).

The reward for the women was a trip to the Wilshire Hotel top level pool with a 360 degree view, with manicure and pedicure pampering. The men had to portion an entire side of beef, making the appropriate cuts to get the various types of beef dishes.

Steak Night opened with a menu featuring special appetizers of crab cakes, crab cocktail and Slider Trio and special entrees of NY Strip, RibEye and Filet. Ramsay announced that there would be tableside service of prime rib and that Susan and Zach would handle that.

Barret started dinner service off on the wrong foot by firing crabcakes before any had been ordered. He should have known how Ramsay feels about that, as it made him look like a rookie who didn’t know what he was doing. Crabcakes and crab cocktails went out quickly for the Blue team. Mary was having problems with sliders because she did not hear the first order for them, then suffered the ignominy of one of her hairs sent out to a diner. Barret was having trouble with the garnish station. He sent up crabcakes without the accompanying salad.  The Blue team finished appetizers and was well into entrees before the Red team finished their appetizers. Ray screwed up with a rare NY strip steak and was sent off with a giants serving underlay to eat all of the wasted garnishes and other entrees wasted for that table. When he returned he and Michael both cooked NY strip steaks that got passing grades. Amanda sent a raw filet to the pass. When she did it a second time she, Jacqueline, Nedra and Mary all tried to get it done, but all 4
were sent upstairs for good. That left Ja’Nel, Cyndi and Susan brought in from tableside (replaced by Jean-Philippe) to finish for the Read team. However, the Blue team had long since finished their service and won it.

The usual “nominate 2” was offered to the women. They chose Amanda and Jacqueline. Ramsay decided to eliminate Jacqueline, although what redeeming value he found in Amanda is not obvious. Ramsay stated that Jacqueline talked a good game but did not deliver.

Ja'Nel continues to be the only woman to impress me. Michael is fading for the men, leaving Zach as the most competent.

Jacqueline's days are numbered, as are Barret's.

HK11, Ep. 10

The focal point of this episode was a Quinceaneara, a special 15th birthday party for Latino teens and their families. The honoree was Brianna, whose mother and party planner accompanied her to Hell’s Kitchen.

The challenge was the creation and cooking in 45 minutes of a 5 course tasting menu including one cold appetizer, one hot appetizer, one chicken entrée and one beef entrée. The points were determined by Briana, her mother and the party planner tasting and awarding them to the Blue team or the Red team. Here is what happened:

Jon-                                   1
Ja’nel -                              0

Barret -                             0
Cyndi -                              1   

Nedra – grilled shrimp      0
Ray – homemade ravioli   1

Anthony - chicken             0
Mary - chicken                  1

Michael - steak                 0
Amanda - steak                1

The women won their 8th out of 9 challenges and got a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. The men had to labor under the strict control freak of the party planner, who is always played by actors to be the villains. They had to clear tables, cut ribbons and cut tulle fabric for dolls’ dresses and it had to be perfect.

In the dinner service, Amanda started poorly in cooking non-raw tuna appetizers for half the head table while Jon and Anthony handled their half with ease. Ramsay wanted all appetizers to be completed before the traditional Quinceneara waltz, but Red could not finish two appetizers in time. For entrees, Zach on Garnish got himself in trouble by not cooking sufficient potatoes and this happened again later.  Barret had trouble with linguine and later when nasty sinews ruined a burned kebab, but he fixed them on the next try. Nedra had dry chicken. Cyndi had raw steak.

The Blue team finished well ahead of Red, but Ramsay did not award them a win. The Red team clearly lost and both teams had to nominate the usual 2 chefs to consider for elimination. Blue decided on Zach and Barret. Red went with the obvious Amanda and chose Cyndi over Nedra. As always, it’s a charade for character building, as only Ramsay makes the decisions in Hell’s Kitchen. He chose Amanda for elimination, which was totally appropriate. Then, he announced that he was not through and ToBeContinued flashed on my TV screen. If you look ahead one week for the number of chefs remaining, you have to conclude that there will be a second elimination to start that episode. It will probably be Barret or it could be Nedra in a surprise move, but I doubt that it will be Zach or Cyndi because their transgressions were not serious enough.


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