Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hot Time in Hell's Kitchen

Having gone through Top Chef withdrawal, I didn't know if I could (or should) devote time to another reality-based cooking competition. But I've been intrigued about the rough and tough reputation of British chef Gordon Ramsay so I thought I'd give the series a look see.

I watched episodes two and three. Here are my impressions, whines, what ifs and other comments on Hell's Kitchen.

1. I was impressed how these chef wannabes had to really work the line. That's the reality of being a chef. Having said that, I am also surprised how little experience the 12 finalists have in actually working in commercial kitchen. Did I miss much in episode one? How did they come to pick these unimpressive 12. Beyond Heather I am not sure there is any one I would root for.

2. Maybe it is the editing, but most of the candidates seem to lack a certain inner sense of self, introspection, thoughtfulness, intellectual curiosity or even a love of creating new and delicious food. Of course that might not be a fair assessment, but not one of the chef wannabes is being presented this way. The only vibes I'm getting are cockiness, greed and competitiveness -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory without the kind spirit of Charlie and with Ramsay as a cruder, ruder Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder version). These contestants seem only interested in the process as a golden ticket.

2. Once again pastries and baking seem to be the neglected art in these shows.

3. Have you ever seen better dressed and made up restaurant "customers"? Maybe I missed something, but these diners seem more like invited guests there for the Hell's Kitchen experience and encouraged to speak up for the camera. They ring false to me.

4. I know Ramsay has a show in England called Kitchen Nightmare or somesuch, but I only know him from his articles for BBC Good Food magazine where he seems like a pussycat and a nice man, so the show is a bit of a disconnect for me on that, although he certainly got press last season for his foul mouth/temper/demanding ways.

5. Speaking of foul mouths, I can't believe the language on this show! I'm no prude, but sometimes it is more like a symphony of bleeps than a conversation. By the way, this is some of the best bleeping I've ever seen or heard. You can still get the gist of the 4+ letter words, while the actual words are bleeped and the lip motions required to make said words are totally blurred. The technicians involved should qualify for a special Emmy.

Bonus Comment: Great "hell" and "pitchfork" graphics throughout the show. A little too much into the flames burning up things for my taste, but nothing cheesy about these production values.

Will I watch it again? I honestly don't know. All I can say is tune in next week.

1 comment:

Cate said...

Sara has definitely got to go. She belongs more on Survivor than Hell's Kitchen. I love the show -- great to fill the void from Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star!