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Soup to Nuts – Hell's Kitchen, Episode 8


Guess what?

Virginia’s crying.

Yes, again. And yes, AGAIN, Hell’s Kitchen opens with it. Oh, sigh, what can I say, let’s just get through this, shall we?

So Virginia is crying because she’s in the final three, and she’s happy or she’s overwhelmed, we can’t tell and neither can she.

Heather appears to feel less conflicted: She seems disappointed that Virginia is still in the running and mildly guilty as she put Sara up for elimination with the reassurance that Virginia was going to bow out.

Virginia couldn’t care less that Sara was the one eliminated. In fact, it was her “theory” all along to eliminate Sara. Her “theory?” I’m unable to spend more time puzzling over that word choice as Virginia is too quickly mangling her English to linger on any one instance. Next she’s saying in interview that the experience has given her a “new skin on life.” You know, if English was her very-recent second language, that sentence would kind of an adorable mishmash of idioms. But it’s her first. So it isn’t.

Whether or not Keith and Heather want Virginia there, she still in the running, and the three of them head to the kitchen for the next challenge. Chef Gordon Ramsay presents them with his signature dish – fish in a puree – lets them taste it, and then gives them 20 minutes to recreate the dish from taste alone.

All of the ingredients are in the kitchen, but it takes a seasoned palate to discern which are the correct ones. Keith opts for one kind of fish while Heather and Virginia choose another. Heather and Keith select potato as the base for their puree, while Virginia spies some white beans in the pantry for hers. She also differs from the others in the central seasoning, building her dish around basil and grapefruit while Heather and Keith choose cilantro.

And once again, Virginia dominates another challenge. While Ramsay finds all the dishes well done, only Virginia gets the ingredients right. She is going to win a special one-on-one instruction in running the kitchen from Ramsay, while Heather and Keith will have to spend the afternoon polishing the glasses and silverware for the restaurant.

Heather and Keith are frustrated; they cannot believe that Virginia has won another challenge when she is so useless during service. As they all take a break in the backyard prior to the events, Heather comments that the recipe for this dish is in Ramsay’s cookbook…the very same cookbook that Virginia picked up during her shopping spree reward. Virginia insists it was her palate that won her the challenge, but Heather and Keith don’t look convinced.

Virginia then gets even more one-on-one quality time with Ramsay, where he imparts his leadership philosophy (“Frighten your subordinates”) and Heather, catching sight of this as she toils over her polishing, says to Keith that Ramsay is basically teaching Virginia how to win. If so, the two of them will have their work cut out for them at the next service, so they band together, determined to ensure that Virginia will not win.

That night’s service, Ramsay informs them that they will each have a turn at leading the kitchen. Service begins and Virginia and Heather each screw up an order. Ramsay then puts Keith on the hot plate first. Keith is successful with his quality control, spotting a purposefully-inferior spaghetti one of the sous chefs tries to sneak past him. However, his leadership abilities are not on full display; he seems either confused or fatigued, but overall does not command the kitchen. As Virginia continues to flounder, Keith’s lack of direction puts the kitchen sorely behind.

Ramsay yanks Keith and puts Heather in his place. In her usual fashion, she’s gung-ho, maybe a little too gung-ho and Ramsay tells her to dial it down a little. She does, and gets the kitchen running more smoothly. While she’s in charge, Keith has a run-in with Ramsay, who calls him out for the return of his attitude.

Ramsay again directs a sous chef to send out an inferior dish: lumpy potatoes. Heather notices it and calls out to the chef to watch quality, but tries to send out the potatoes anyway. Ramsay stops the dish from making it to a customer, and replaces Heather at the plate with Virginia.

Virginia is riding high off her lesson but while she might believe in her leadership abilities, her reading of the first ticket lands with a complete thud for Heather and Keith. Keith is too distracted by the timbre of Virginia’s wail to actually pay attention to the content. Ramsay has one of the sous chefs substitute sea bass for the salmon ordered. OK, THAT is a test for a top chef? Isn’t sea bass like white? And salmon is – ya know – SALMON-colored? Isn’t that like trying to send out a lemon as an orange? Well, Virginia spots it. Good for her.

Service is completed, and Ramsay tells each chef they have to nominate one of their own. They go back to the house, they jockey for position, they come back. Ya know – the usual. Keith nominates Virginia because…um, she SUCKS in a working busy kitchen. Heather nominates Virginia because she SUCKS in a busy working kitchen. Virginia nominates Keith because of he wasn’t forceful enough at the hot plate.

Ramsay asks Virginia and Keith to step forward and defend themselves. After that…he dismisses Keith.

What?

Ramsay says something about how he’s not ready to be a leader…OK, but VIRGINIA SUCKS IN A WORKING BUSY KITCHEN. And Keith has frequently led throughout the course of the show.

Both of these points Keith makes as a retort to Ramsay, who reiterates he’s not ready. Keith accuses him of having a thing for Virginia. Well, I wanted to think better of Ramsay, but it’s either that or else it’s TV-machinations making him select her for the final, because I cannot imagine how Keith isn’t one of the final two. That’s just nutty. And I don’t even like Keith.

I’m at a loss for words. I will have to find some for the two-hour finale, but for now, what else is there to say but: K-Grease has left the hizzouse.


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