Hell’s Kitchen 2007, Episode 8

What an episode!

First, the equivalent of last year’s lunch truck challenge. This time it was one dish each by the five contestants, 100 servings, for high school students. Julia won with a remarkable 51%, which surprised us because we thought she might have gone overly lowbrow. I seem to recall that last year for the equivalent challenge the most lowbrow and highbrow dishes didn’t do so well.

Julia got to take one of the others to Vegas to see Rock’s future restaurant, stay in the resort, and meet Heather, last year’s winner. Julia was funny, talking about the bidet.

This episode was the final five, so all one team at last. Service was pretty awful. I don’t remember it being this bad other years. Julia was off, Rock was off, and Josh was absurd.

Josh should have gone home before now, and stayed through chance dynamics. He was so bad, no doubt edited to look worse, that Ramsay actually tossed him out early. Out. Completely. Unprecedented. I thought he would be the elimination for the night, and the others would just get critiqued and warned before moving on to next week.

Nope. Apparently the Aaron dynamic was indeed supposed to result in a net reduction of one episode, so they had to balance out

Bonnie had her best night ever, apparently despite the monkfish incident. I think she has hidden depths and merely comes across as flighty and uncertain. I’d not credited it as possible until now

, but it’s entirely possible Bonnie could be in the final. I’d been figuring Jen or Julia versus Rock. In any event, Rock has been positioned for the win, and whichever one he is up against is to be judged not by the fact that she loses, but how lopsidedly. Tonight Rock made it feel like more of a contest.

What’s cool about Rock, though, is he knows when he’s lost his cool and not thought straight. He’s reflective and self-evaluating enough to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over.

With Julia gone, with what I’ve seen of Jen (or how the clever editing makes Jen appear), I’m inclined to root for Bonnie for second place. Jen likely has greater kitchen skills, but it’s not entirely about that.

So Bonnie had to select two out of the three for possible elimination. Rock was the obvious choice. Rock was also not ever going to be axed, so from a non-futility standpoint she might as well have nominated both of the other women. From a game play standpoint, you could have made a case for Jen being nominated, but Bonnie chose Julia, along with Rock.

That left Ramsay the option of sending away Julia, or overruling Bonnie and sending away Jen, for which there was no justification, and which would destroy the game play aspect.

Julia received the nicest elimination of any non-winning contestant I can remember. The last time I can remember Ramsay being that excited about someone’s talent was when Michael won the first season. Julia just needs training… so he’s personally putting her through culinary school! That choked me up.

And that provided a lovely symmetry; Josh getting tossed without even going through the normal process or receiving a parting commentary, bad or good, followed by Julia’s praise-filled elimination and consolation prize.

I am absolutely thrilled for Julia. She could probably have run the restaurant, but it would have been a stretch. With his sponsorship, no more stretch when she’s done, and massive opportunity.

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