|Tonight marks the end of yet another season of Hell’s Kitchen. The first ten minutes are flashbacks on all the loons they had in the kitchen at the beginning of the season. Makes you wonder which will be the producers chosen few to return to the kitchen and work under the final two. I am glad they did such a long flashback tonight because seven minutes into the show my wonderfully expensive service decided to reboot itself.
When it turns back on I see Nona and Russell dressed up driving somewhere in a car. I have no idea where they are going, but it appears neither do they. Since I have watched faithfully through the years, I know that more than likely they are going to some rooftop in LA, to do a full menu challenge. The winner has first pick of the booted contestants. They are met by Chef Ramsay at the airport. They are escorted onto a helicopter to see the sites of L.A., the home to the winner of this competition.
While flying over the rooftop of the Marriott, Chef Ramsay points out an audience waiting for their arrival. Unless they have never watched HK, they had to know this is what was in store for them. Chef Ramsay explains those people are waiting for them to start their last challenge. They land on the helipad and James is waiting for them with parachutes. Never, ever, ever would I jump off a building with a parachute (or without one for that matter). Russell is scared to death, but Nona is set to go and walks right up to the edge. I get weak-kneed just looking at her. Chef Ramsay calls her back and says he was just joking. There’s a big group hug, while Nona is disappointed, and Russell is looking for toilet paper.
The challenge is to create five stunning dishes in an hour. There will be five judges, one for each dish. They will be cooking in the L.A. Market restaurant. Nona and Russell must each prepare a soup, salad, pasta, fish, and meat entrée. Nona is preparing a tweaked Southern Fine Dining experience. Russell is preparing a light Southern California fare.
The first to judge is Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of AEG. Chef Ramsay credits that company with the downtown revitalization of L.A.. He is judging soups. Nona prepares Loaded Potato Soup, garnished with cheese, chives and bacon. He thinks it is very good. Russell’s soup is Roasted Cauliflower garnished with crab salad and olive oil. He says he loves them both, but if you had to twist his arm, Nona’s is better.
Judging the salads is Joachim Splichal, Michelin Star Executive Chef and Owner of Patina Group. Nona has made Beet Salad with Various Greens and a Grapefruit Champagne Vinaigrette. Russell’s salad is Burrata and Prosciutto Salad with Arugula. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. Chef Splichal thinks it is wonderful. He says he doesn’t know who should win here. Chef Ramsay asks him which would be best-suited for the L.A. Market. Russell wins the salad. Every year it comes down to the last dish deciding a winner. I wonder if that is a pattern.
Next up is the Pasta dish. Judging this dish will be Michelin Star Chef David Myers, Chef / Owner of Sona. Nona makes a chicken pasta dish, which Chef Myers says he would eat all the time in the summer. Russell makes a scallop pasta dish. Nona wins a second point.
To judge the fish entrée is David Lefevre, Executive Chef of the Water Grill. Russell needs to win this pairing to still have a chance of winning the challenge. He makes Arctic Char with the skin on; Chef Lefevre loves it. Nona pan sears Salmon with Vegetables. Chef Lefevre thinks overall both dishes are good. Imagine … it’s Russell wins this one, which means it is left to the final dish, again.
Their future employer Kerry Simon of L.A. Market is the final judge. Obviously they are not going to say “Well Kerry sorry we don’t need you, a winner has already been determined”. All future Hell’s Kitchen contestants take note; focus on that final meat dish. Nona presents Pan Seared Ribeye, Cauliflower Puree and Wild Mushrooms. I think it looks a little sloppy. He thinks the dish was good and likes the combination of ingredients. Russell cooks Grilled Veal Tender with Roasted Red Pepper and Pearl Onions. He likes the presentation. Russell’s dish does look nicer than Nona’s. He seems to be torn on which dish he likes better, but in the end chooses Russell.
Russell and Nona are told there is another surprise back in Hell’s Kitchen, and they head back. When they walk into the dorm all the lights are off. They are tiptoeing around when a door pops open and past contestants jump out. Nona visibly jumps. Sabrina is one of the first out and runs up to Russell and straddles him. Nona right away starts trying to plan out who she wants on her team. Chef Ramsay calls up to the dorm, and Trev answers, being told to come on down. When Chef Ramsay hangs up the phone, he shudders and says “ugh, they’re back”. That was my exact feeling on most of them!