This week… in HELL’S KITCHEN:
a stay of execution another chance to cook for their lives a spot in the finale, our Final Four spend some time with their families/loved ones/friends, then get a few hours sleep. The next morning, Chef has a surprise for them: he has prepared one of the dishes from the Savoy in London for them to savor, and has had Jean Philippe prepare a table for four. They enjoy a hearty breakfast, then Chef lets the other shoe drop (note to future contestants: always watch out for the other shoe): for their Challenge, they are expected to re-create the dish, with the correct ingredients. Since they ate the evidence, he has graciously created another dish for them to study. Cooking happens blah blah blah, and they present their re-creations for Chef to taste.
While Jay got the sauce right (pear), he got the protein wrong (using flank steak, instead of venison.) Oops. Autumn, on the other hand, got the protein correct, but used apples in her sauce, and also used bacon instead of pancetta. Both Ben and Holli got the protein correct, and used pancetta, but both of them also used apples in the sauce. However, since they were Chef’s two favorite dishes, he gives each another taste: and, at the end, decides that the winner is… Holli! He explains to Ben that his sauce should have been more of a glaze, and that is what gave Holli the W.
Ben, as expected, doesn’t take this well, and trash-talks Holli in front of the Confess-o-Cam, and again to the other contestants when they are back in the dorm. For her Reward, Holli gets a day (she says an hour and a half; Ben says more like 4 hours) on a luxury yacht with her son and his father (whom she says she will take to London when she wins), while the Punishment that awaits the other three is to clean and pack up the furnishings/linens/cookware that the ex-contestants left behind. Jay receives an additional torment, as he gets to work with Autumn, who talks… and talks… and talks… and talks… and TALKS throughout the workday. Ben also contributes his 2¢, as he complains incessantly about how he should have won the challenge, how he is a better cook than Holli, how he should have spent the day with his wife… (One can almost empathize with Jay. Almost.)
Ben also takes on a heavy burden, picking up some of the packed boxes in a decidedly unsafe manner. This comes back to bite him square on the
butt back, as the next morning he wakes up to discover his back is giving him problems. So much so, in fact, that he has to skip the Prep, spending time instead in his bed, then in a hot tub, and finally seeing a chiropractor. When he finally returns, he tells his fellow contestants “this is it” – the pain is too severe, and he is going to drop out. He packs his stuff, then goes to Chef’s office to let him know.
Chef listens to Ben tell his tale of woe, then gives him some advice: Don’t Do It (or, at least, Think About It Really, Really Hard.) After all, Chef thinks Ben has what it takes, else he would have been 86‘d a long time ago. With that boost to his ego complete, Ben returns to the prep kitchen, and lets his contestants know he has reconsidered, and will be cooking tonight, after all. The other three respond with the level of enthusiasm to be expected (that is to say, absolutely none whatsoever), and in fact they seem somewhat annoyed that Ben managed to pull a Lacey leave them with all the prep work.
As they move on to the Service, Chef tells them it is finally time to test their mad leadership skillz, so he will give them each a shot at manning the pass. (He will also have his evil minions ‘test’ them by committing acts of culinary sabotage.) Jay is up first: he sets a high bar for the rest, by passing his QC tests and keeping the apps flowing out of the kitchen. Next up: Holli, who immediately earns an
***-chewing coaching from Chef due to her lack of experience and confidence. She earns another ***-chewing coaching from Chef when Jean Philippe slips a short ticket past her. Jay then takes the heat off of her by spilling risotto on Chef’s whites, earning him an eruption from Mt. Ramsay. Holli spots the last error, and so returns to her station on a high note.
Ben get his turn at the pass, and Holli notices that, as if by magic, his back problems have disappeared! He misses his first ‘test’ but catches the others, and Autumn is called up for her time in charge. The other contestants fail to yell out Yes, CHEF! when she call out orders, she calls them on it, and they comply. This gives her a wonderful feeling of power, as she admits to Mr. Confess-o-Cam in private. This feeling is wiped out, though, when she misses one of Scott’s “mistakes” and Chef calls her on it, she giggles. Chef does not think this is funny at all, and lets her have a piece of his mind, using words like ****, ****, and especially ********. She, in turn, adopts a “zero tolerance” policy, sending dish after dish after dish back for various imagined problems. Despite this, the kitchen manages to put out food, and eventually Chef re-assumes control from Autumn.
After yet another successful service, Chef tells them that the only thing harder than sending one contestant home, is sending two contestants home. And yet, send two home he must: the spiky gods went hungry last week, and they will. not. be. denied. So, the Final Four are sent to their room, and told to decide who will stay, and who must go. Jay and Ben both nominate Autumn (does this surprise anybody?), and Holli nominates Ben (for being AWOL during prep, and other d-baggy jerkness.) When they return to tell Chef their decision, Chef tells them that He’s. Not. Interested! in their nominees, instead commanding each one to
beg for their life make their case for a spot in the finale. After listening to their pitiful pleas explanations, Chef gives it his thoughtful consideration, then announces that Autumn is the first one to go. After selecting Jay as the first one to make the finale, Ben and Holli await their fate. Following Autumn into the ranks of the 86‘d is… Ben! As is fitting this late in the season, both Autumn and Ben get a good send-off from Chef, and can leave with their heads held high.
So, there we have it: 14 contestants down (Chef’s wife doesn’t count), two remain standing. It will be Holli and Jay in the finale, vying for the position of Head Chef at the Savoy Hotel. Chef tells them to get a room some rest, for their greatest challenge awaits them. As they head up the stairs, one of them (I think it was Holli) mentions that “they are alone now.” So much for getting a good night’s sleep, eh?
Next week: It will be the Battle of the
Lovebirds Sexes in the Season Finale, as Holli and Jay duke it out to see who is the Last (Wo)Man Standing. Will Autumn finally drive someone to suicide with her incessant chatter? Will Nilka manage to terminate Holli’s dreams with extreme prejudice? Will Fran ever manage to cook a scallop properly? Will Ben’s attempted coup d’etat against Jay succeed, or will Jay hand Ben his *** on a silver platter? Who will win? And, will Chef pull a bait-and-switch after the winner is announced, or will his $$$$MONEY$$$$$-men backers go with the decision? Tune in and find out next week, when all will be revealed… in HELL’S KITCHEN.