Hell's Kitchen
Season 9: 5 Chefs Compete

Episode Report Card
Daniel: B- | Grade It Now!
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Paul Is Adorable, Like a Non-Blue Smurf

So: one jacket to rule them all, one jacket to find them. One jacket to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. The five surviving chefs celebrate while Elise tells us all what an amazing accomplishment she just accomplished, and Will naively hopes that all the shit that went down in the Red Kitchen dies now that the Red Kitchen is gone. He says this like it was the Red Kitchen's fault, like it's the haunted Overlook Hotel. It's tempting to think that Ramsay could easily start murdering people with an axe, I'll admit. Anyway, while the cheftestants drink champagne, everyone pledges profanity-laced allegiance to a no-bullshit-from-here-on-in approach, which will last until the next challenge, I imagine.

The next morning, the Black Five show up in their new jackets -- which are really white jackets with black trim -- and Ramsay tells them their next challenge is all about presentation. They're going to be working with "ugly" food, like meatloaf -- foods that require a lot of work to look good. There are five plates scattered around Hell's Kitchen with ugly dishes labeled on them, and they're all going to have to run to get them for some reason. Is this more entertaining than just randomly drawing the dishes out of a hat? Even with the "wacky" carnival music, I say no. Anyway, Elise is pleased to get eggplant parmesan, and she apparently elbowed Paul and risked him getting a spinal cord injury by falling down the stairs.

They have fifty minutes, and I'm briefly concerned that this is going to be a 24-style real-time episode. They get to cooking, and Paul is pissed that Elise has so many plates going. This, to him, makes her a pain in the ass. He may not be wrong, but you'd think that reason is far down Elise's lengthy list.

Time's up! Ramsay's brought an "esteemed" panel of judges, but not so esteemed that anyone's going to know who they are. They are: Lesley Bargar Suter, the "dine editor" of L.A. Magazine, like shut up, L.A. Magazine masthead; Susie Heller, cookbook author (she's worked with Julia Child, Ramsay tells us. Too bad you couldn't get her!); Valerie Aikman-Smith, food stylist, like that's a real job; Deborah Jones, award-winning food photographer, ditto; Eric Greenspan, executive chef and owner of The Foundry on Melrose. I couldn't think of a mean-spirited thing to say about him. Everyone claps politely.

Tommy's first up, delicately carrying his chicken and dumplings. Everyone will be judged on presentation and then on taste, with a perfect score being 100. Tommy has the chicken and dumplings sitting in broth with roasted red onions petalled out to resemble water lilies. The judges all love the presentation, but the dumplings are undercooked. He scores 44 on presentation, but just 30 on taste.

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Hell's Kitchen

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