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HELL’S KITCHEN Summer’s Guiltiest Pleasure

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HELL’S KITCHEN Summer’s Guiltiest Pleasure

Hell's Kitchen Season 7

©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Joe Viles/FOX

Summer is when my guilty pleasures, shows I know aren’t exactly ‘good’ for me, return to TV.  Perhaps the guiltiest pleasure for me is watching Gordon Ramsay lay into people as they attempt to prove their worth to him in “Hell’s Kitchen.”

By : SHAWNA BENSON

Summer is when my guilty pleasures, shows I know aren’t exactly ‘good’ for me, return to TV.  Perhaps the guiltiest pleasure for me is watching Gordon Ramsay lay into people as they attempt to prove their worth to him in “Hell’s Kitchen.”  Now in its 7th season, the format of the show is pretty well known – 16 chefs, 8 women and 8 men compete to be the last chef standing.  The prize: a head chef’s position at Ramsay’s Savoy Hotel restaurant in London.

Even for me, someone who loves watching Gordon go from zero to head explosion in less than five seconds, the show is starting to feel a little repetitive.  Gordon can only call people “donkeys” or order them out of the kitchen so many times before it just becomes tiresome.  In an attempt to shake things up for this season, Gordon makes a grand announcement to the assembled “press” as the new contestants arrive: they will complete the first dinner service, scheduled for the following day.

Hell's Kitchen Season 7

©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Joe Viles/FOX

Veteran viewers of the show probably know that the first dinner service has never been completed in any previous season.  Inevitably the dinner service falls apart for both teams and Gordon shuts down the kitchen.  As Gordon announced that this time they would be successful on the first night, you could see the fear in the eyes of the competitors.

The first challenge is, of course, for each of the chefs to present their “signature dish” for Gordon to taste.  A strange twist to this challenge throws many of the competitors for a loop right up front, but clearly Gordon is intent on having fun this season.  If that means throwing lots of new twists into the challenges and the dinner services, so be it.  The chefs do seem to be better right up front than in previous seasons; several received praise from Chef Ramsay for their dishes.  Only a couple of dishes were spit out right after he tasted them, which is a pretty good count on this show.

Already the competition starts to shake out.  The frontrunner seems to be Scott Hawley, an executive chef from New York, who comes out swinging by making sure everyone knows he intends to win.  The ‘most annoying contestant’ award is always up for grabs, but I’d say Salvatore Coppola has a head start on the title.  Salvatore speaks with a thick Italian accent, which cannot possibly be real, as he’s lived in the U.S. for 21 years.  He claims to have held on to his accent for the ladies, but I can’t imagine many women falling for it.  The “dim bulb” award will probably go to one of the women, with Holli Ugalde and Fran Klier racing to the bottom for this honor.  Fran is our designated “older female chef with no chance of winning” this year, and Holli appears to be filling the “can she even find the kitchen” slot.  Fran commits the cardinal sin of mistaking crab for lobster, and Holli manages to fall on her butt within minutes of being on the show.

After their first night in the dorms, awakened every 30 or 40 minutes for a pre-recorded cooking lesson from Gordon, the group looks a little tired, and dinner service looks a little tough.  Will they complete it?  Who will be sent packing, their jacket hung like a prize on Gordon’s wall of shame?  Tune in Tuesday, June 1 to find out.

For more information on the show and the contestants go to http://www.fox.com/hellskitchen

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