Food is now flying out of both kitchens

We got caught up on Hell’s Kitchen last night, by watching the episodes that aired this past Tuesday night. Apparently they’ll have two episodes again this Tuesday, so I suspect that FOX is trying to get through as much HK as they can before Gordon Ramsay’s new show, Master Chef, debuts sometime in July.

Anyway, some random observations on where everyone stands and how the season is proceeding:

:: I liked seeing the Blue team (the men) use their “punishment” for losing a challenge as a way of building their teamwork. They had to go to a particularly nasty spot along the Los Angeles River and pick up trash, which wasn’t just small crap but stuff like shopping carts. (The LA River, in LA, flows through a bunch of man-made flood-control channels made of concrete. Remember the “Thunder Road” race in Grease? That’s one of the LA River channels.)

:: Strong contestants are emerging: Nilka on the Red team, and Benjamin on the Blue. Others are falling into the “making it interesting” category: Holli and Fran for the Red, Salvatore and Jason for the Blue.

:: Contestants I don’t have a handle on yet: Siobhan and Maria for the Red team; Ed and Jay for the Blue. These folks haven’t distinguished themselves one way or the other yet. Siobhan seems a bit fragile, but maybe she finds her strength and bounces back a bit. It’s happened before on HK — in fact, it might have happened already this year, with Salvatore. (And I still like her because of her red dreadlocks. I’m shallow.)

:: The contestants I’m unimpressed with: Scott for the Blue team, Autumn for the Red. Of course, now that’s reversed, because both were nominated for elimination this week only to be simply switched to the other team. Scott is an obnoxious know-it-all whose high opinion of his own knowledge and ability is not yet backed up by any evidence, and Autumn has the same faults plus a bit of added backstabbery in action. She’s the kind of person who is very quick to find someone else to blame for her screw-ups, like when she played dumb about the oversalted water last week and when she simply refused to speak up when Siobhan was getting pilloried by Chef Ramsay for not cooking all of her eggs herself, as she’d been instructed to do. (As soon as they went to the kitchen, Autumn said “Hey Siobhan, I’ll cook some of your eggs for you.”) Plus the way Autumn looked down her nose at the burgers-and-fries cooking challenge (“I cook at a much higher level than lunch stuff”) was utterly obnoxious. Her “blame others” schtick may work for a while, but sooner or later Gordon Ramsay always sees through this.

:: Speaking of that, I find it gets annoying on these reality teevee shows when contestants don’t show any evidence of having watched the show they’re on before! It always bugs me on The Amazing Race when contestants flip out over what plane they’ll take at the beginning of the episode, when the show is clearly set up to make sure that all contestants more or less get to the same place at the same time. Ditto Hell’s Kitchen, when a week ago, the teams nominated contestants for elimination for reasons other than picking who had just had the worst dinner service. Every year someone tries the “I’ll nominate the annoying person!” or “I’ll nominate the person I really don’t like!” or “I’ll nominate the person I believe to be my toughest competition!” strategy, and every time, Gordon Ramsay ignores the nominations and gives the truly deserving person the boot.

:: In one of the episodes this week, two contestants — Salvatore and Holli — were sent out into the dining room to work that end of things. They were both put into identical suits, which reminds me that I just hate it when women are required to wear what is essentially a man’s uniform. Neckties on women bug me. Always have.

:: Before last week’s episodes, I had never heard of the vegetable “salsify” before. If I had seen that word on a page, I would assume it was a verb meaning, “to make salsa out of”. As in, “Take these tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers and salsify them.”

More observations as the season progresses!

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