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Hell's Kitchen, Oct. 13 – Is Chinese Take-Out Fine Dining?

It’s hard to believe the season will end tonight. This has been a crazy season from Lovely taking her breaks during service to Joseph snapping right in front of us. One of my favorite moments has to be when Van and quiet, reserved and proper Jean Philippe bump heads. So much testosterone this season!

The final three did not impress Chef Ramsay that first night. Ariel had raw duck fat on her plate, Kevin served a filet with coffee that left Chef Ramsay disgusted and Dave didn’t cook his Brussels sprouts long enough. Early on in the competition both Kevin and Dave were injured. Dave unfortunately has had to deal with his injury throughout the season. Who could have imagined the severity of the injury all started from cleaning a fire truck. All three have overcome their own demons on the show and, I believe, deserve to be the last three standing.

It will be interesting to see which chefs will rise to the occasion at the pass tonight. I really worry about Dave and what he is doing long-term to his arm, must be the mother in me.

Right away tonight I have to chuckle. Dave announces after seeing his loved ones that he is so happy he has to smoke. What? I have heard of the cigarettes for stress, anger, frustration, boredom; never in my 45 years have I ever heard someone say, “Oh I am so happy … let’s smoke,” and I am an ex-smoker. Ariel and Dave both light up in celebration.

The next morning Dave is up at 6:35 smoking. He is nervous that he won’t be able to take down Ariel and Kevin. Personally, if he is looking at final two I think he should focus on beating Ariel, she has had bad services in the past and is not always consistent. Maybe Dave needs to give himself another mirror pep talk.

Chef Ramsay greets them in the morning with another challenge. He has three domed dishes and is expecting them to create a dish from the international country printed on the card underneath. He explains that Whistler will be an International destination when the Olympics arrive, and this is something that they will need to do well.

Ladies first. Ariel lifts up to find China, and is excited about her choice. Dave goes back and forth on which dome he wants and ends up with India. He says, “Oh no,” as soon as he sees it. Kevin looks very happy as Dave walks back in line. Dave tells Chef Ramsay he has never cooked an Indian dish in his life and is told not to be intimidated by it. I don’t know if Kevin is happier or Dave is more disgusted when Kevin gets Mexico. Kevin doesn’t think it gets any easier then that and believes that he has it in the bag. I always get worried for people when they get really confident and use the word easy.

They are given ingredients for their country and are cautioned by Chef Ramsay to use them wisely. The chefs have 45 minutes to present a stunning entrée to Chef Ramsay.

Dave is at a loss on what to do, and is contemplating making a dish he already knows how to cook and adding Indian spices to it. Kevin and Ariel have an exact plan in mind and start cooking right away. Poor Dave is worried he is going to choose a worshipped animal as his protein. He chooses pork.

Chef Ramsay is not the only judge today. When their dishes are finished he surprises the chefs with world renowned chefs as additional judges. Vikas Khanna is the Executive Chef for VK Hospitality Group, specializing in Indian Cuisine. The second judge is Thomas Ortega, Executive Chef / Owner of Ortega 120, Redondo Beach, Ca. Lastly, Chef Eddie Wong is Executive Chef of Mr. Chows in Hollywood. If they knew who they were cooking for before the challenge it would have been a stress cigarette moment for sure.

China is first. Ariel freezes. She cannot get out the name of her dish at all, unless it is called Umm Umm, which some may argue could be on a menu in a little neighborhood Chinese restaurant. She should have said Umm Umm Noodles With Plum Sauce. Oh my gosh, I don’t know what she is thinking, but when Chef Ramsay asks her if she has had the cuisine before, she says it’s been a while since she has had Chinese take-out. He just buries and shakes his head, and Chef Wong is visibly offended. Chef Ortega didn’t think it was balanced and Chef Wong thought the sauce was watery.

Kevin is next; he makes an Orange and Cumin Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Mole Mexican Chocolate Sauce. He lifts his cover and there is no sauce on the plate; over-confidence will kill you every time. Ariel loves Kevin’s mistake; I guess she feels it somehow makes her dish better. Chef Ortega feels that the dish would have been over the top with the sauce. Chef’s Wong and Khanna both love the dish.

Dave is last to present and very nervous. He makes a Pork Tenderloin with Ming Bean Puree. Dave finds out right away that his protein choice would not be served in India. He should have gone with Chicken or Seafood. The dish went over well with all the judges, minus the pork of course.