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Review: "Hell's Kitchen"
Tuesday, June 05, 2007 | posted by Mike

If you're looking for thoughtful, (hopefully) insightful commentary about food television, scroll down to the next post. This is a review for Hell's Kitchen.

The Next Food Network Star recruits its participants by asking them to submit an audition video. Hell's Kitchen recruits its participants by visiting an insane asylum. There is simply no other explanation as to how they manage to gather such a motley crew of masochists.

Chef Gordon Ramsay started off the season premiere with a wink. Promising to refrain from yelling and cursing, Gordon appears at a nicely set table. Of course, it all a charade and the show quickly moves to its bread and butter, a humiliating (for most) "signature dish" audition that obscenely and hilariously mirrors the significantly more restrained version seen on Star. That's about the last thing they really have in common.

Whatever criteria Kitchen has used in the past for choosing contestants was obviously tweaked a little bit, because they managed to really outdo themselves with this year's crop. Ramsay delights in getting to each of them, from the over-sized Asian Cowboy who inexplicably bursts into tears at least two or three times in the episode to Eddie, who has some sort of kidney disorder. I know I'm not supposed to laugh at Eddie. I know it makes me a bad person. But now that Ramsay told him he had a fantastic "little palate," I can't stop giggling whenever he shows up on screen.

From there, it shakes out the same way as it did in yeas past, with the group being divided into two kitchens and struggling to get dishes past Ramsay, who acts as the last line of quality control, watching out for uncooked chicken and overdone pasta. This year they split them into groups according to gender, although this hardly qualifies as groundbreaking in the world of reality television.

And that's pretty much it when it comes to Hell's Kitchen. It's a televised, culinary train wreck, albeit one that's a hoot to watch. Think of it as the devil on the one shoulder, opposite the more angelic Star.



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