Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hell's Kitchen: The Fabulous Five

Jill and I have been religiously watching Hell's Kitchen the whole season. But, unforgivably for someone who calls himself a blogger, I haven't been sharing my every waking thought with you! Time to remedy that, with my opinions on the remaining five chefs.

Suzanne: Suzanne, I fear hope, is not long for this world. She's always been hated and loathed by the rest of the kitchen for being a poor team player and a bossy egomaniac, but at least she could afford to ignore them because her cooking was solid and consistent. Recently, though, there have been some cracks in the facade. She says she's gotten a wake-up call since being essentially forced off the red team, but it's pretty clear a leopard doesn't change its spots. She's been up three times already, and while Chef Ramsey has given her a little leeway based on the not-entirely-unfair supposition that she's being targeted by her castmates for elimination based on her personality, rather than her cooking, I think she's used that excuse up. The only reason she survived the last episode is because Van seemed to totally melt down -- and even then, I think if Chef Ramsey had seen her flatly refuse to send out food because she wasn't willing to plate it, she might have been gone anyway.

Ariel: Oh dear. For most of the season, Ariel was probably the best overall chef. She was calm, cool, and collected at all times -- so much so that I think Chef Ramsey might have been a bit annoyed that there was someone whose skin he couldn't get under. But over the past two episodes, the wheels have begun to come off the wagon, and I wonder if her nerves are finally beginning to set in (given that it occurred just as they got the coveted black jackets). If she can right ship, she's a bona fide threat to win the whole thing, but right now she seems badly shaken up.

Tennille: If Ariel may have peaked too early, Tennille has turned it on at just the right time. Tennille, if you recall, barely made it out of the show's early going -- she almost went home on the second episode, for crying out loud, and a few episodes later nearly was sent home Louie-style when Chef Ramsey almost kicked her out of the kitchen. To her credit, she has clawed her way back and I think Chef Ramsey is genuinely impressed by her tenacity. Not only that, but when Chef Ramsey walked out last episode, she flashed impressive leadership skills as well. She's the real wild card left in the hunt. I think objectively, she's the weakest chef of the remaining five, but Chef Ramsey likes her and she's shown impressive grit.

Dave: How can you not love Dave? His body is falling apart, he sounds perpetually stoned, and yet he is simply a fabulous cook. Dave has kept a remarkably level head this entire season for someone who has nearly destroyed both of his arms, making few enemies and participating with little drama. Along with Tennille, I think he also has impressed Chef Ramsey the most with his consistent top-notch cooking and his play through the pain attitude. One worrying sign is the implication that he and Tennille are going to start feuding over her not backing up the nomination of Ariel over Van at elimination. Not smart, I think -- first, because Tennille was clearly right and knew that Chef Ramsey knew it too, and second, because Dave has succeeded thus far precisely because he's avoided any major fights or meltdowns. As much as it thrills me to hear a different cadence to Dave's perpetual monotone, for his sake I think he'd be far better off droning his way to victory.

Kevin: Is it just me, or did Kevin's New England accent recently get a lot thicker? For most of the season, Kevin was the blue team's Ariel: low key, low profile, getting the job done and staying off Chef Ramsey's radar screen. Unlike Ariel, however, he's mostly kept it together since the teams were merged and the black jackets came out. His stall to save Suzanne while working tableside, while ultimately futile, was still very well done. He clearly thinks of himself as the front-runner, and he's definitely got a shot. But at this level, part of the game may be just who Chef Ramsey thinks most highly of, and I get the feeling that Chef Ramsey just isn't a big Kevin fan. Because Kevin's a bit cocky? Possibly.

My ultimate prediction: Dave. He's on Chef Ramsey's good side, has shown consistent great cooking skills and has probably worked harder than anyone on the show.

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