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'Hell's Kitchen' Recap: A Visit To The Slaughterhouse, Eating Cow Parts & More

February 20th, 2009 2:15pm EST
Charlie from Hell's KitchenThis recent episode brought to mind a weak point that has been in Hell's Kitchen since its creation. Most reality shows allow the contestants or public to vote on who should be on the chopping block, but Hell's Kitchen leaves it all in the hands of its host, Chef Gordon Ramsay.

Right now you may be thinking to yourself, “Hey, in The Apprentice, Donald Trump gets to choose who goes.” This is true, but Trump isn’t watching the contests as they go about their challenges – thus allowing players to lie to “The Don” in the boardroom to get a powerful rival out. In “Hell’s Kitchen,” Ramsay is over the shoulders of every chef throughout all of their actions, from pre-service challenges to the service itself. He knows the ins-and-outs of that night’s failures.

Last season, in the second episode, Corey attempted to get rid of the only chef she thought could beat her: Christina. Ramsay more or less denounced the nomination of Christina because how good she was - and she went on to win the entire competition. In a show like Survivor, we are used to the great players being picked off early in the game because of their prowess in challenges, but the audience is robbed this entertaining possibility in “Hell’s Kitchen.”

This week’s episode was the meat episode, but instead of cutting chicken like last year, they dealt with beef. The teams first visited a slaughterhouse, where they got to see the magical process in which dead bovines are sawed apart. During the tour, they were educated in the cuts of meat made out of a side of beef, and weekly quitter/whiner Lacey could not care less in the presentation. Has she not watched a reality show before? If someone is giving you information, you had better believe it is going to come up later.

Ben and Gordon Ramsay in Hell's kitchen

Gordon Ramsay (left) reminds Ben that dessert comes after the main course.



Of course, that information was put to use as soon as they got back to the kitchen. Ramsay asked them to identify cuts of meat, and then place those cuts on a cow diagram. The teams were lined up separately, and after one member went, Ramsay would announce how many were wrong (but not which ones) before the next could go and attempt to fix it. The men dominated, thanks to the fact that Gio is the head chef of a steakhouse and Ben is from Chicago, more or less the steakhouse capital of the world. Unsurprisingly, Lacey got just about everything wrong on her turn, and Colleen had similar troubles – despite announcing that her grandmother was a butcher and she knew everything there was to know.

As a reward, the men got to go to a private wine tasting and enjoy a first-class steakhouse. But it wasn’t as eventful as what the women had to go through. The team had to lug an entire side of beef (for reference, that’s pretty much a cow cut in half) and prep for a steakhouse-based service that night. For lunch, they got to eat cow parts! Andrea had such a hard time she needed a barf pail instead of a simple bag, and the women’s team emoted their intentions to win that night as a response to the horrid punishment.

Gordan Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen

The night’s service was to be cut in half. First, the women would serve as the waiting staff while the men cooked, and then the teams would swap places. Ben, my personal pick to win on the men’s team, decided to be an idiot and prepare desserts before the appetizers where even out. Gio, despite being a steakhouse chef, had several servings sent back. Charlie continued his habit of spacing out during service, not firing shrimp portions for the salads on time and letting a cloth catch on fire after leaving it on the stove for several minutes. Lacey was the only woman that was focused on by the producers during the team’s waitressing, her most egregious error coming when she forgot to put a ticket up some twenty minutes after she wrote it down. Seth was tasked with prepping more meat when they ran out, and he butchered a cut so badly half of it had to be thrown out.

The women seemed to cook much better than the men once the roles switched, and Charlie failed miserably as a waiter. He made Ben ask a table in his area if he had taken their order since he forgot, and spilled condiments all over another table. In the end, the women won because they had served more entrees than the men. Charlie and Lacey were fingered as the worst servers.

While the men debated who to nominate for elimination, Gio’s name came up several times because 1) he was a steakhouse chef and he couldn’t handle the meat station, and 2) he was a skilled chef that the others didn’t want to compete with. While Charlie and Seth were ultimately nominated, there is no question in my mind Ramsay wouldn’t have accepted the team’s nomination of Gio. He’s simply too good to be kicked out this early. Does the show suffer because of this system? I think so, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

While the women half-heartedly lamented the fact that they would have to carry the dead weight of Lacey and Colleen another week, Charlie was disposed of by Ramsay – he looked strong in the beginning, but he simply was too inexperienced to stay on.

Picks from last week: Ben and LA. Ben put desserts up to the pass way too quickly, but overall did a good job. LA was hardly mentioned again, keeping her status as the dark horse favorite.

Hell’s Kitchen airs on FOX every Thursday at 9 PM.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Let us know in the comments!


Casey Johnson
Story by Casey Johnson
Starpulse.com contributing writer