Hell’s Kitchen 2007, Episode 9

And then there were two.

Hell’s Kitchen has its finalists and we’ll see who won next week. Not that it’ll be a surprise; just a matter of interest to see how close the second place person comes.

The challenge this time was picking a random classic American comfort food and making a gourmet variant. Cool idea. Gordon Ramsay introduced his mother, who brought in a yummy looking baked macaroni and cheese as an example. Then Ramsay showed his version, all lobstered and fancied up. I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer hers.

Bonnie got franks and beans, something I always enjoyed but she never heard of as a combination. That was funny; her agonizing over it, but the result looked great.

Jen got fried chicken. Oddly enough, I don’t think of that as a comfort food. I think of it as almost an exotic or special food. We never had it when I was a kid, short of whenever we first started hitting KFC as a major, rare, huge, special treat. Which is probably why I still think of fried chicken as a big treat and something unusual to make. I’m not sure my grandmother ever even made fried chicken, but I know we never had it at home. I had fried smelts as much as I had fried chicken as a kid.

Rock got spaghetti and meatballs. I think I might have had the hardest time picturing something upscale to do with that.

What I’d like to know is what were the choices under the two extra domes. I wouldn’t expect mac and cheese to be one, since that was the example. Maybe meatloaf? Maybe hamburgers?

They all did creations that looked and sounded good.

No surprise, they brought in their mothers to do the tasting and judging, without knowing who had done which dish. Jen’s chicken won, though it was amusing seeing Bonnie’s mom not want to stop eating Bonnie’s dish.

This was the episode where the prize was a shopping spree with a $1000 certificate at a fancy cooking supply store. Jen was cute, marveling at the stuff. They did a great job getting the amount almost dead on. This year there was no gify buying for the other contestants, at least not on camera. There was also no bitching and moaning in jealousy from the others, which was nice. After seeming like a worse crew this year, they’ve really shaped up.

Rock and Bonnie had to clean the dorms. Bonnie whined amusingly and bossed Rock around. He can be patient. On her part, it’s almost more like a schtick than how she really is.

If it wasn’t already clear, just as there was more than “pastry chef” to Jen, there was more than “nanny” to Bonnie. She doesn’t do much nanny work and is really a personal chef. I’d like to be able to afford a personal chef! Well, except then I’d spend it elsewhere and enjoy cooking even more myself. Except being able to afford that implies maybe being too busy to cook. It’s a vicious circle.

This episode’s service was the one testing their lead chef skills, as far as managing the activity of the team, calling the orders, plating and quality control.

Jen failed the larger quality control test, but wasn’t bad overall.

Bonnie was remarkably good at that aspect of things, and got raves for presentation, which is no surprise. She was arguably the best of the three, though there wasn’t wide variation.

Rock wasn’t nearly as good as I’d have expected, being an executive chef already. He caught the quality problems and was overall competent.

They got through the whole service and the diners seemed happy. There were a few goofs beside the intentional ones, but it’s a far cry from even a few weeks ago.

They each had to think about and be able to make a case for why they should stay. When they came back for the elimination and made their statements, Bonnie’s was probably the best and most coherent, followed by Rock’s. Jen had trouble getting past something akin to “because I wanna.” We’ve seen a lot of that this season, when people were asked why they should stay. Future contestants should remember this is important, and when it’s close can make a difference who stays.

Gordon Seacrest faked out Rock, making him think he was going and then saying he had to be in the final. Well, duh. How can Rock win if he’s not in the final?

Chef Ramsay made sure they all knew they done good and should be proud, including Jen, who landed in third place. It an honorable place to be, and I had a feeling once she won the challenge that she’d be leaving.

Bonnie is no fool, and has obviously seen Hell’s Kitchen before, which many of them seem not to have done. You could hear her asking Jen, when they were hugging, if Jen would be on her team. They bring back some of the other contestants for the final and each finalist “hires” half of them. It’s like gym class all over again.

I can’t wait to see the final. I think I’m more excited than I was for Heather and whatsername last year. But Rock will win. What I want to see is how well Bonnie does. Whatever happens, her options are much wider open now than remaining a personal chef. By comparison

, Jen already had done quite well for herself and may not have so much upward room. I figure Bonnie has gained a lot of confidence simply by having made it this far, and will be far more of a challenger to Rock than we would have suspected weeks ago.

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