|by Leslie Seaton
Last week, Chef Gordon Ramsay pulled Tom – our damp schlubby former stockbroker – from the fire set by his teammates. They’d felt that he was the most expendable member of the team. But in Ramsay’s universe, sweatiness is a lesser sin than mop-headedness, so Giacomo was sent home instead.
Tom is angry at Garrett and Keith, the other two remaining men, for voting for him. He repeatedly tells Garrett that he “had his [Garrett’s] back.” Sorry, pardon me? How? Garrett, having performed adequately, was in no danger of being voted off that evening, and since Ramsay has already demonstrated twice he couldn’t give a rat’s bum what they vote anyway, exactly what could Tom do for Garrett? Season his food by perspiring in it? (Oh Reader, believe me, I’m as sorry I wrote that as you were to read it. I’m ashamed of myself.) He certainly couldn’t have meant that he has Garrett’s back in the kitchen, because Tom barely has his OWN back. Or his front for that matter.
(Clearly, once again, I am losing patience with reality show staples, and the one that’s irking me tonight is: contestants’ tendency towards self-delusion and an inability to accurately assess their own skills.)
And Tom’s not just annoying me; he also offends Rachel and Heather by telling them that he’s got more to lose in the contest than anyone else. His rationale for feeling this way is that this would be the fourth career he’s started and failed at (I would NOT admit that on national television, but that’s me) and he has nowhere else to go after this. Rachel and Heather are angered, pointing out this is their ONLY career and what they’ve always felt they were born to do. (Tom also especially charms Heather by saying he’s got more to offer than some young whippersnapper. Heather, who’s about twenty years younger and twenty times more skilled than Tom, doesn’t much appreciate the dismissal.)
The two teams head to the restaurant to meet with Ramsay. Ramsay points out that the men’s team is now three to the women’s five. He calls out Sara, Rachel and Heather on the women’s team for having already demonstrated leadership. In interview, Virginia, who, along with Maribel, was left out of Ramsay’s list, sniffles that the way to stand out is to be “bossy.” Well, if leadership = being the boss, then yes, maybe boss-y is the way to go? It’s a tautology, no?
Ramsay tells Heather he’s sending her to lead the men’s team, and there’s a flurry of emotion in the room, as we learn through interviews. Keith doesn’t feel like he needs a leader, Sara’s glad that one of her rivals is gone, and Heather wants to do well with her new team, but doesn’t like to be competing against her former teammates.
After the new teams are formed, Ramsay takes them on a stroll to a local neighborhood restaurant that is one of the “most successful” restaurants in L.A. The chefs wonder what kind of Wolfgang Puck delight is in store, which makes me immediately assume they are going to a burger joint.
My reality show telegraph censor must be out of whack, because they don’t go to a burger joint. They do, however, go to a hot dog stand, a vastly different form of inexpensive meat and bread. It’s a popular local stand called Pink’s, and there’s apparently some kind of lesson to be learned but I missed it.
The group then has to trot back to Hell’s Kitchen as the restaurant is going to be open for lunch! They learn the menu will be basic – pizza, burgers and fries – and Ramsay tells them to focus on “speed, taste and quality.” (Oh, I get it; maybe that was the lesson at Pink’s.)
And then the customers arrive: hordes of screaming children. The presence of the children doesn’t stop Ramsay from swearing, but he’s at least got the decency to be chagrinned by this fact. He tells the teams they have to complete a full service to win the contest, and Keith, pull up your *&!$% pants!!!
Heather sets about knocking the Blue (Previously Men’s) Team into tiptop shape, and the fellas have enough common sense to see that listening to her might be the best way to pull themselves out of the hole they’ve been digging.
Over on the Red (still All-Women) Team’s side, Sara’s taken the irritated bitchery that was previously focused on Heather and turned it towards Rachel. Tension grows!
Meanwhile, out on the floor, the kids have been given Pixie Sticks and Silly String. You can imagine the horror.
Both teams actually manage to make it through the service without too many bobbles. Ramsay isn’t thrilled when the Red Team’s pizzas start to lose their round shape, but his outraged is tempered by the fact that the food is going to children. He’s not going to make the team re-do it, but he still admonishes them to have some respect for the process.
They both complete the service, so the winner will be determined by the children’s ratings. It’s close – the Red Team received a 9.84 rating, and the Blue, a 9.85. The Blue Team is thrilled to have a win. Because they lost, the Red Team will have to clean up the dining room, which has been effectively destroyed by the children hopped-up on Pixie Sticks.
The Blue Team’s reward is to head out to a local amusement park. Fun is had by all.
Not so much for the Red Team. It’s bad enough that they have to clean, but Sara’s flippant attitude aggravates Rachel. And, it would appear, Mary Ann, Ramsay’s sous chef. Sara goofs around as she cleans the floor, and when Rachel asks her to take things seriously, she calls Rachel a “bitch.” Mary Ann, in response, drops an iced cake icing-side down on the floor right in front of Sara.
Everyone has to pull it together for dinner service that night. On the Blue side, Heather’s leadership continues to benefit the lads. There’s still tension on the women’s side, as Sara doesn’t seem to mind the idea of the Red Team losing if it means eliminating one of her direct competitors.
Ramsay tells the teams that the ice machine is broken, so since the Red Team lost the lunch challenge, if ice is needed, one of them will have to go fetch it.
Both teams get off to a rocky start. Rachel and Sara have a miscommunication about the starters, for which Ramsay blames Rachel. (It’s edited to look like Sara possibly sabotaged Rachel, but a little unclear.) Over on the Blue side, Garrett sends out risotto without tasting the seasoning, which sends Ramsay into apoplexy.
Ramsay is none-too-pleased with Rachel’s risotto, either, which doesn’t “relax” on the plate or “flow like lava” as it should. He wonders aloud if the team is going to fall apart without Heather.
They start to get the appetizers to the tables, and so now the teams turn to entrees. For her dishes, Virginia has to depend on Sara for the seafood elements, and Sara indicates they’re are ready when she is. However, when Ramsay calls for the dishes, Sara says that one of the fish ingredients isn’t even out of the fridge yet. Ramsay then confronts Virginia – why did she say she was ready? When Virginia protests that Sara said they were prepared, Ramsay calls her a liar, and Sara stays mum about the truth.
Sara says in interview that basically, she felt if Ramsay was already gunning for Virginia, why not let him?
Aaaaannnnddd… things fall apart. Tom messes up something, Maribel messes up something, Virginia and Rachel mess up more stuff. Rachel is also in Ramsay’s crosshairs, and after another error, he sends her off to fetch ice. She runs off to buy it… but without her wallet! She doesn’t realize this until she’s in the checkout line. She’s not going to risk Ramsay’s wrath (say that five times fast!) so she gets down on her knees to beg another customer to buy the ice for her. Luckily, he does and so she’s able to rush back, but not before taking a nasty fall on the street.
Things don’t improve when she gets back, and after she and Virginia continue to struggle, and Tom sets a fire in the Blue kitchen… it’s curtains for the night!
Ramsay is furious, as usual, and demands each team nominates someone to go. He sends them back to the house to make a decision.
It seems clear that the Blue Team is sending Tom to the chopping block, so clear that he doesn’t even appear to negotiate, but spends his time back at the house rehearsing his closing comments.
The Red Team doesn’t seem quite so cohesive. Virginia and Rachel were the poorest performers of this night, but Virginia knows she’s been weaker longer, so can sense the target on her back.
Back at the restaurant, the teams present their sacrificial lamb chops of Tom and Virginia. When Virginia is announced, Ramsay expresses surprise it’s not Rachel. She offers to take Virginia’s place, a ballsy move, but I think a good one: Ramsay seems like that kind of old-school sense of responsibility can win him over.
But it’s Tom who is on his way out, despite his plea that he deserves to stay because of his tenacity. (Not a strong argument – roaches are hard to get rid of too, but no one wants THEM in a kitchen)
Well, thank goodness. I’d like to eat out again in my lifetime, and the only way I’m going to be able to do that is if the absence of Tom from my TV screen allows me to eventually bury the memory of the sweating-into-the-food. Once I’ve forgotten, I can go back to pretending that every restaurant kitchen is as sterile as a surgical ward. Until then, I guess I’ll be eating at home.
See you next week!
Drop Leslie a line at LQSeaton@realityshack.com.