So this week was the Season Finale of Hell’s Kitchen. The two hour finale featured the remaining three contestants facing off to see who would become the head chef of the Araxi restaurant in Whistler, British Columbia. The job is even more enticing when you consider that the 2010 Winter Olympics will have droves of international cold weather sports hanging out in the area.
The final three was composed of trio of very skilled chefs. Ariel is a a sous chef with probably the most talent on the women’s team. Early on, Mrs. Nerd picked her to emerge from the ladies team. Kevin is an executive chef from the Northeast. It was easy to see that Kevin possessed a strong drive and a significant amount of technical skill. Dave is executive chef from New Jersey. He seemed to have better than average cooking skills, but his personality seemed more like a skater punk than a head chef.
In the first of the two hours, a poor run at the pass (the window they hand food to the wait staff), cost Ariel her shot. In one of his nicer moves, Gordon told Ariel to keep her jacket as reminder of everything she had accomplished. For those unfamiliar with the show, the ejected chef normally has to turn in their jacket before taking the walk of shame. Ariel went out with her head high and a lot of pride. I can’t think of very many reality contestants that have showed as much class as she did.
In previous seasons, the next hour of the show would actually be two hours. The first hour would be the final two working on their menus and redecoing the dining room the way they make their restaurant. The second hour would focus on the last dinner service.
For this season, the decorating was out. On top of that, the two hours were compressed into one. This meant the final dinner service was compressed into about 15 minutes of time. Which really didn’t give a good sense of it all. There appeared to be ups and downs on both sides.
On Dave’s side, during his menu review, Ramsay called his menu “pedestrian.” During service there was a bit of drama when they ran low on mushrooms.
On Kevin’s side, he ended up with a team member starting out not being able to cook scallops. This continued awhile longer, before he realized the team dynamic wasn’t working and switched folks up. Kevin’s kitchen fell behind early plagued by the difficulties and what appeared to be a complex menu. However, he rallied his troops and by the end had caught up.
At the end of service, there was the requisite scene of Ramsay pondering his decision in his office. Dave and Kevin were brought in and the winner was *Commercial* announced as Dave. I was bit surprised by this.
It’s not that I don’t think Dave has the ability, I just thought Kevin edged him out a bit. For me I’d rather know that my new chef could take on adversity and come out on top. All of Kevin’s food looked incredible, and from the audience reaction tasted great, as well.
So what happened? This is where the shortened finale really hurt the show. I do have some guesses.
The folks that run Araxi were shown eating in the dining room. Dave’s simple menu included venison and some other simple dishes. They mentioned it was nice to see some BC items on the menu. I’m guessing they got a say in the final decision. The outcome of the show actually made me wonder how much of the call was Ramsay’s and how much was theirs.
I’ve been watching a lot of Gordon on BBC America. “The F-Word” and the UK version of “Kitchen Nightmares” are more frequently getting added to my DVR. There is a theme I’ve picked up on. Gordon always goes back to basic food featuring fresh local ingredients. This would lean towards Dave’s menu.
Lastly, between this season and last, I almost wonder if the folks behind the show aren’t trying to find the next Gordon Ramsay. It almost seems to me they are picking the winner as somebody that is willing to follow the lead of the restaurant owners. Somebody like Kevin would want more control and freedom in the long run than somebody like Dave.
Even though he didn’t win, I’m sure the exposure that Kevin garnered from the show will open a number of doors for him. In a season that was very heavy in the talent department, Kevin stands out for leadership and kitchen skills. How many of us can say our resume was shown on prime time network TV?
I just really wish they could have gave us more explanation on this. Yeah, Dave won. He battle back with a broken wrist and so on. But would’ve like to have known more about why Kevin lost.
There was one high spot at the end of the show. The sting of my contestant loosing was taken away a bit by the blooper reel sequence at the end of the show. I’ve gotten used to the nicer BBC Ramsay. It was great to see that side of him on an American show for a change.
While a recent episode of “The Mentalist” had a suspect eluding to Ramsay as the “angry” reality chef, I don’t think he really is. I think his passion to bring out the best in the chefs on the show manifests that way. If you watch closely, you’ll see he pushes people so they can find their limits and grow. Maybe, in the end, he thought Dave needed the win to grow more than Kevin did.
No matter what, I’ll be back for another helping next season.