Gordon Ramsay is somewhat of an enigma. An angry and passionate monster of an enigma. This is most evident when watching the tenth season. Yes, the tenth season of Hell’s Kitchen USA; the expletive-filled, angry American FOX show loosely based on its British counterpart, in which Ramsay unrelentingly verbally, and sometimes even physically, abuses eighteen amateur chefs until a winner is found amongst the wreckage of this brutal culinary car crash. A winner who continues working in the Ramsay empire of restaurants as a head chef. What a prize; three months of mental and physical torture under the say-so of one man, and the prize is to continue working under his iron fist! It’s like the winner of ‘The X Factor’ being awarded with a tracheotomy.
You may fear I am using some sort of dramatic licence when I say that the potential head chefs are put through physical torture, but once you watch six tired women cart an entire dead pig from the back of a dirty van to a butchering slab in the middle of the devil-themed cooking room ready for slice and dice duties, you realise just how apt the word ‘torture’ is, and that’s not even the gammon in waiting. Watching these poor ladies huff and puff whilst trying to keep the poor pig-corpse from dropping to the ground is distressingly compulsive viewing. Yet, if you think this is awful, just wait until you see Gordon Ramsay’s mentally straining all night cookery lessons, in which, on an hourly basis throughout the night, a piercing alarm is sounded which signifies the beginning of a compulsory video-cookery lesson. I thought it was bad enough being awoken at 2:30am by a now notorious stray owl; I daren’t imagine the shock waves that would ripple through my vulnerable and delicate sleep-deprived body at the sound of Gordon Ramsay barking away. I’d rather not even consider the sight of having to learn how to perfect a scallop starter in the early hours of the a.m. What I do know, is that Hell’s Kitchen USA is so wonderfully cruel, it’s an example of television so deliciously mean, very few can beat it.
Indeed, as the show reaches it’s wonderfully fast-paced and anger-fuelled crescendo, it’s then when it’s at it’s full potential to demonstrate human-suffering based LOLZ. Ramsay barks orders at his minions, and calls them every name under the sun in his attempt to weed out the best, most unrelenting passionate chefs, or as I know them soulless robots. You’ve undercooked a chicken wing? You’re a fucking waste of space! You’ve failed to bake a beef wellington correctly? You’re a bloody joke! YOU’VE USED THE SAME PAN TWICE?! You might as well run into a duel carriageway now; anything to avoid the arduous process of being verbally assaulted by Ramsay to the point of psychological exhaustion.
During the show I watched, poor Roshni on the meat station undercooked some chicken. OK, so MAYBE this may cause some Salmonella-based issues, and maybe the Department of Public Health would have a few little issues regarding Roshni’s mistake. However, anyone would think by Ramsay’s reaction that Roshni had urinated on the chicken, dropped it in a bag of soot and stones before deep frying it in the tears of orphan children that she had captured in a child catching van and forced to cry. Ramsay chucked her out of the kitchen by telling her, delightfully, to “fuck off”. Indeed, she was then the subject of a gruesome bitching process in which the teams decide which two chefs out of the losing team performed least well. Roshni avoided being placed in the bottom two. However, come elimination, something deep inside Ramsay obviously clicked; Roshni was the least impressive Ramsay-bitch of the pack, and she was duly shown the door. As she left the kitchen, Roshni was informed by Gordon that she had a “big heart”; the equivalent of telling someone that they’re good for hand modelling or a face for the radio. Of course Roshni didn’t care though. She was too busy, elated at the prospect of being able to talk without being asked beforehand or living in a dorm full of crazy psycho-chefs so hell-bent on winning they make a pre-Olympics Tom Daley look like laid back and care-free. Anyone would think that lot were in the middle of a battle in war; they really should all at least try to remember they’re just chopping up a few carrots and calm down a bit.
In her post-elimination interview, Roshni also claimed to be deeply upset at her elimination. Unfortunately for poor Roshni, the eyes tell a thousand stories, and she actually looked as if she’d just been told she no longer had a life-threatening illness. I imagine Roshni running out of Hell’s Kitchen, leaving her worldly possessions in the chef dorms (torture dungeons), as she embraced her newly regained freedom by running to the nearest cooker and deliberately undercooking a portion of scallops, just to relish the sound of silence as she does so; embracing her return to a calm, quiet life, free from the barks and criticisms of her once omnipotent opressor. Meanwhile, her crazy, power-fuelled ex-team mates are presumably drawing lots for her personal belongings; separating the spoils of war in a way the Greeks and Romans so ruthlessly perfected.
As the credits roll for the preview of the following week’s instalment, we’re treated to previews of Queen of Stereotypes, Chef from the South, Kimmie squel from the pain when she ‘urts her fangeh (that’s ‘hurts her finger’, for anyone who doesn’t understand my dodgy attempts at scribing regional accents), some fish being controversially left on the pass for a long amount of time (n.b G-Rams; just bung it in the microwave next time) and Gordon Ramsay finding various small reasons to raise his voice and instill fear in potential cooks around the world. (e.g. ‘you placed one too many parsley leaves on the garnish’) All of this, of course, is narrated by the wonderful American narrator who constantly sounds as if he has a chest cold, suggesting he may have pulled a ‘Phoebe’ by deliberately catching flu to gain a sexy and authoritative tone to narrate the culinary controversies, week by week. The best part?! It has to be the concluding moments when a photo of the eliminated contestant is set alight just as the credits begin to roll. It provides us with a sense of closure with our departed contestant, and not in a positive fashion. In fact, it connotes thoughts of disappointment, lost chances and ultimately a feeling that now our departed contestant has been booted out, their life-long ambitions are over, and nothing more can be achieved by them. It’s now a steady decline to the grave; their life peak has been reached.
What have I learnt from the loud, anger fuelled process that is Hell’s Kitchen USA? Most importantly, that only the oddest and egocentric characters survive in the world of Hell’s Kitchen. The nice, normal, ‘I’d-trust-that-person-to-babysit-and-not-kill-the-child’, characters are weaned out in the early stages, leaving a group of ten people that resemble a modern day hybrid thunderbirds and S Club 7, except this lot are totally unlikeable and freakishly ambitious. I know we’re always told never to settle for mediocrity, but when someone cries because they can’t cook a steak for Ramsay to try, you begin to realise these people have taken one too many passion and determination pills; resulting in a never ending, unbelievably tiring quest for brilliance. “I’m not here to make friends” barks one contestent proudly.
Oh calm down, serve some undercooked penne pesto, and chill out; now. Please?!