Season 9 of Hell’s Kitchen premiered last night and it left me bored and frustrated. It started off predictably. The contestants were lead to a backstage area by James (where’s JP? I thought he was going to be back this season.) where they stood in front of a curtain. A crowd could be heard cheering, pulses were racing, the curtain lifted, and…the only one in the auditorium was Gordon Ramsay. Shocked? Not so much. When it came to preparing their signature dishes, Ramsay surprisingly liked a good majority of them, which gave me hope. However, that hope faltered during dinner service when contestant Jason Zepaltas fell ill and had to be rushed away in an ambulance. Sound familiar? I didn’t even raise an eyebrow when Ramsay announced Jason wouldn’t be returning. It makes me wonder if these injuries are planned, in order to add a small element of drama right off the bat. I almost wondered if something was up when Jason received praise for his signature dish, which was pork tacos. Now, I like tacos as much as the next blogger, but these didn’t look all that special and I can’t see Ramsay giving him a point for it. Can it really be coincidence that there is an injury removal the very first episode two seasons in a row? The dinner service itself left me wanting more. I admit I chuckled a little when contestant Chino Chang was punished by sitting at a table peeling a giant bowl of garlic.
When all was said and done, Steven Paluba, a chef from New York, was the one who said hasta la vista, and there wasn’t even a good reason for it. He did end up at the table with Chino at one point (which looked like a time-out corner by the end of dinner service), but I could think of others who should have left first. The highlight of the episode was the brief 30 seconds we saw season 8 winner, Nona Sivley, where the Blue Team met with her after they won the signature dish challenge.
I’m hoping the show redeems itself tonight, with its second episode of the week. At this point, I only want to watch Ramsay in MasterChef and Kitchen Nightmares and I don’t like feeling that way, since I love Hell’s Kitchen.
What did you think of the episode? Do you think Hell’s Kitchen can redeem itself or has the show run its course?
Season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen was a great one. Mainly because I had the pleasure of getting to know Nona Sivley who took home the prize: Head Chef position at LA Market and spokesperson for Rosemount Wines. Nona is as nice and as animated as she appears on TV. I admit when she first contacted me, I got so excited I ran through my house screaming at anyone who would listen. Okay, maybe I even called up my sisters to tell them. “You will never believe this! Nona from Hell’s Kitchen just talked to me!” It was like I made first contact. I definitely wasn’t as calm and collected as Steve was when he would chat with Vicki from The Amazing Race, but I was starstruck! Throughout the season, I calmed down. Nona was just that sweet and down to earth, and she really is a lovely person. I even managed to chat with Vinny and Trev here and there without falling all over myself.
Nona became a regular reader of The Reality Junkies and even let me ask her a few questions about her experiences on Hell’s Kitchen.
Nona autographing a chef's jacket
What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen to be on Hell’s Kitchen?
I kind of freaked out for a minute. It didn’t seem real. I mean, the auditioning and interviewing was fun and easy, but now it’s really go time!!
What was your favorite experience from the show?
Probably seeing Curtis and Jax. I had no contact with them for over a month and seeing them walk through those doors was so overwhelming.
Being kicked out of the kitchen. I’ve never experienced anything like that, and we (Chef Ramsay and myself) were arguing back and forth. It was definitely the most humiliating moment for me.
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We’re down to the final TWO!!! Either Russell or Nona will be the new head chef at LA Market, plus the spokesperson for Rosemount Estate wines before the end of the night. The pressure is mounting! Each chef has to design their own menu for the final dinner service, but first, it’s challenge time! Both chefs are kidnapped and sent to LA Market in a helicopter. Once they get there, they’re told they have to skydive down to the audience waiting below and are given parachutes. The funniest part about this was that Russell started totally freaking out and almost crapped his pants. It was all a false alarm though. They ended up walking down to the audience instead. Very disappointing, but I’m sure Russell was relieved.
I'll just freefall right here!
The first challenge is to create 5 separate dishes, soup, salad, pasta, fish and meat, and they will be judged by these really awesome judges. Russell decided fusion was his thing, despite the fact that he didn’t do well in the fusion challenge, and Nona stuck with her southern flair. The fusion idea worked well for Russell this time, since he won the challenge, beating Nona with 3 of the 5 dishes. This, of course, swelled his ego even more. Then they’re told to head back to the dorms where previous contestants from the season jump out of closets, scaring Russell and Nona, even though we all knew they were going to be there. Russell’s reward for winning the challenge was that he got to pick the first team member, which I honestly think is the lamest reward Hell’s Kitchen has ever thought of. Russell picks Jillian first, which makes sense since she made it so far. He also ends up with Vinny, Sabrina, and Rob, which means Nona’s team consists of Gail, Melissa, Trev, and Boris. Nona totally got the shaft. I barely even remember Melissa and Boris certainly didn’t make any impressions on me, other than washing dishes in the middle of dinner service and sweating in the food.
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Filed under: Hell's Kitchen
Tags: boris poleschuk, chef gordon ramsay, gail novenario, hell's kitchen, melissa doney, nona sivley, rob mccue, russell kook II, sabrina brimhall, trev mcgrath, vinny acardi jr.
Even though there had been a non-elimination week, it was sort of bittersweet. This episode promised TWO eliminations. Even though I have been neutral towards Jillian, we hear how she lives in the basement of her boyfriend’s mother’s house which makes me feel sorry for her and suddenly want her to win. No one should have to go through living in their mother-in-law’s basement, no matter how well they get along.
The first challenge of the week…it’s fusion time! Each chef has to create one dish that represents two separate countries. The countries are chosen at random when the chefs have to pull two flags out of a dome-covered platter. First up is Nona who gets Greece and Italy. Jillian ends up with Thailand and Spain. Russell gets France and India. Last, but not least, Trev ends up with China and Mexico. They have 45 minutes to come up with an awesome fusion dish, which sounds really difficult to me. Right away, Nona, Russell, and Trev are off and running. Jillian is struggling quite a bit, acting as if she has no clue what Thai or Spanish food is all about. All of her complaining was for nothing, however, as she aced the challenge. Luckily, the other three basically sucked. Nona threw in just about everything she found in the kitchen, Trev can’t season properly, and Russell can’t cook a duck which probably made him cry later while he flexed his muscles to make himself feel better.
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Now that Gail is gone to complete her plan of taking over the world one fish station at a time, there are only 4 chefs left. The only one who hasn’t made me want to scream at least once is Nona, but there are still a couple of weeks left so that may change.
The challenge the chefs are faced with are that they have to pair up and create one dish together. Trev is paired up with Jill and Russell is paired up with Nona. Seems easy, right? As they’re preparing their dishes, Chef Ramsay is being sneaky and creating a dish of his own. When they place their dishes in front of him, he tastes both and is able to correctly identify all the incredients in both teams’ dishes. That almost makes me wonder if he’s tipped off or something. Maybe he watched the footage ahead of time and saw what they put in it. Then he makes each chef taste the dish he was slaving over and they have to reproduce it. The person who creates a dish closest to Ramsay’s wins the challenge.
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Hell’s Kitchen Power Rankings
Here we go with the weekly Hell’s Kitchen Power Rankings after the jump, but first here is a random picture of Paris Hilton who will do anything she can to be on TV, even if it’s in night-vision.
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Now that Sabrina’s gone, I was expecting the drama to slow down. I certainly wasn’t expecting Jillian to try and fill the void, but that’s exactly what she did. After spewing off about how much they all hate Gail and Trev, it was challenge time! Each chef had to create a signature lunch to cook in LA Market. The only problem was, they would have to do so in their own food truck and would have 1
hour to do it. There were hungry businessmen and women to attend to! I always love roach coach challenges, even though I’ve only ever seen it on The Next Food Network Star. The challenge proves to be a bit of a problem though since food trucks aren’t exactly the easiest kitchens to work around, which is proven when Nona has trouble finding the oven. Russell, who apparently thinks he’s in an upscale New York City seafood restaurant, tackles octopus like it’s nobody’s business. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would want to order octopuss in a food truck. Trev takes the easy route with pasta and sausage and Nona doesn’t do much better with a sandwich and sweet potato fries. Gail gets her cook on with steak. Honestly, if I was looking for lunch from a food truck, I think I would order Nona’s lunch, since that’s what I would expect from that type of…establishment. Not surprisingly, Russell got the least votes. I’m guessing he learned nothing from Trev’s frog leg fiasco of the previous week. Gail received the most votes, with Nona a close second. Even though Trev tried his hardest to schmooze the customers, he placed third.
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