'Hell's Kitchen': Gordon Ramsay's kingdom for a good risotto

hells-kitchen0608-320.jpgI hate the official titles for these episodes. Who's going to be interested in "15 Chefs Compete"? No one, that's who. Tivo has another title for this one, which is even worse: "A chef argues with Ramsay." Feh.

Gordon Ramsay's Bleep-O-Meter: 55
Contestants' Bleep-O-Meter: 50
Best Quote by Salvatore: "Chef, they're going to think I'm a man-whore."

The chefs all trudge upstairs to talk about their experiences. The red team (that's the women, who lost last episode) is particularly glum. Autumn starts in on explaining what they need to do better, and it appears that her primary recommendation is "Do what Autumn says." Siobhan tells us that she won't put up with that. Fran tells Autumn she's not a team player. As you remember, Fran decided Autumn wasn't a team player at approximately the moment that Autumn nominated Fran for elimination. What a coincidence!

The weekly challenge: The chefs will work in pairs, and each pair will cook eggs four ways: poached, soft-boiled, sunny-side-up, and scrambled. Because the women have an odd number, Siobhan will be working on her own. And they're off! They have five minutes. Wait, you can cook four different kinds of eggs in five minutes?

The women go up 10-8, then Jason and Ben get two out of three acceptable, so it all comes down to the last egg. It always comes down to the last egg. So... is Ben's soft-boiled egg good enough to break the tie? Yes. The men win!

The reward is "A beautiful! Stunning! Helicopter tour of L.A." I like that Gordon is trying to mix in other adjectives than "amazing."

The next day, the women are doing prep. Siobhan is unsure what consistency to make the potatoes, and Autumn assures her that it doesn't have to be perfect. You know, I'm not absolutely sure that's Gordon Ramsay's philosophy in a kitchen. On Siobhan's other side, Fran starts poking at the potatoes. Then Nilka tries to get Siobhan off the potatoes so she can do it herself.

It's time for the service. Chef Ramsay allegedly surprises the teams with the news that they'll be doing tuna tartare tableside. Isn't this the sort of thing you have to know before prep starts? And ideally as far back as when you were slicing up the tuna? The people working tableside will be Fran and Scott, which probably means that Gordon thinks they're good chefs and wants to keep them out of the way for a few episodes. Chef Ramsay asks Salvatore to name the desserts, and he can't name even one. Out of the kitchen! Get out! And study a menu. That's not as much fun as throwing someone out before the service even starts.

Jay is sent upstairs to get Salvatore. As he comes back, the first order comes in. Salvatore manages to say the desserts. The women's water isn't boiling yet. And it's time for Mikey's risotto! It is ... undercooked. Chef Ramsay tells Scott to go serve that table more tuna tartare.

Siobhan is on risotto for the women. And as if that weren't enough bad news, she's getting help from Autumn. Chef Ramsay spots Autumn seasoning the risotto over Siobhan's shoulder and orders Siobhan to order Autumn to get up out of her business. Nilka tells them to knock it off and just cook.

Back to Mikey's risotto. After 43 minutes, it gets out of the kitchen. But the customers declare it undercooked and send it back. Mikey's cohorts despair. Chef Ramsay shouts at him. It's [bleep] ahoy in the kitchen! Benjamin tells Mikey to relax and not rush. Over on the red side, they're on entrees, but Nilka is late with the garnish. She stops answering the other chefs, and that's never good.

Salvatore brings Lamb Wellington, and it's done correctly. Nice to see. But Jason's chicken isn't ready. He tries cooking it faster, but that never works. He takes Chef's Ramsay's abuse well and starts another chicken. Well handled.

On the red side, Jamie's salmon has some sort of problem and there's a communication breakdown. On the blue side, Andrew's talking up a storm, but he's not talking to anyone. He might be talking to the garnishes he's working on. When he asks Jay to bring up some garnish, it doesn't go well. The mashed potatoes look like soup. Chef Ramsay shouts at Andrew and explains, as you would to a small child, how to make mashed potatoes. He doesn't like being told he can't cook risotto in a sauté pan. He tells Chef Ramsay this, and promptly gets thrown out of the kitchen. But first, Chef Ramsay gets in his face and tells him he's a joke. He's not shouting here, so I think there's a chance he's legitimately angry.

Then both teams suddenly complete the dinner service! So that's two episodes in a row, which is an improvement on last season. Chef Ramsay lines everyone up. He complains about Jason's chicken, Mikey's risotto, Nilka's garnish and Jamie's general cooking. Nobody wins. Each team is to come to a consensus on the one person from their team that should go home. Will they have the sense to limit their choices to the people that Chef Ramsay explicitly criticized?

Jay thinks Jason should go. So does Benjamin. Jason mocks the very idea that he could be nominated. He suggests Salvatore, as does Mikey. Mikey interviews that he was surprised that no one nominated him. And he appears to have the sense not to suggest it. The women, meanwhile, start to lean on Nilka. But Maria makes a good case for Autumn, who couldn't salt the water properly.

Maria announces that Autumn is their nomination, for the salty water. And what else? Siobhan says she's not a team player. Okay. Benjamin puts Jason forward for the men because "he's not a team player, and he makes it difficult for us to work with him." Chef Ramsay seems skeptical that Jason is the worst cook on the blue team, but all the men assure him he is.

Autumn, why should you stay? "I have the skills and the talent." She thinks it's personal. The red team admits she's not the worst cook. Fran was the first to admit it, incidentally. So who, Chef Ramsay demands, is the worst cook? They reluctantly decide on Jamie, who Chef Ramsay swaps with Autumn. Autumn's back in line. Now, Jamie, why should you stay? "I have so much heart." Jason, same question. "I messed up with the chicken, there's no doubt about that. But I keep pushing."

And the person who's going is... Mikey! I advise future contestants to keep in mind the fact that Gordon Ramsay does not care who you nominate. At all.

Photo credit: FOX