You can win ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Posted: August 5, 2010 in Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,

In theory, I dislike reality-gameshows, because generally they oversell the entirely editor-bay-concocted idea of reality while underselling, well, any sense of competence that might win the damn thing.

But I watch “Hell’s Kitchen” religiously, for reasons I don’t entirely understand other than it’s fun to watch it with my friend Tad (when I moved out of his place, we tried watching it on our own, only to realize that without mocking it together, it’s just, well, watching horrible television for an hour – so now it’s our pre-“True Blood” entertainment).

To my surprise, I’ve been watching “Hell’s Kitchen” for YEARS now, and every season, I’m astonished that the contestants seem to have never seen the show before in their lives. I imagine that’s one of the screening questions to dismiss applicants, much like if you were a lawyer picking from a jury pool on a horrific axe-murder case, you would try to disqualify anyone who answered “Yes” to “Has anyone in your family ever been horrifically murdered via axe (or similar chopping tool)?”

BUT! Seeing as how the show’s been running for seven seasons now and shows no sign of stopping, there’s the possibility that, if you have ever spent time in your own kitchen using something other than a microwave, you will eventually become a contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen.” And because I am a benevolent soul, I am here to help you win (but the deal is, I get to keep whatever fancy product-placement cookware you get; fair’s fair).

Like all the best strategies, yours will be ten-fold: 

1)      WATCH THE GODAMN SHOW – Note that I did not say “Tell the screeners you have seen the show before.” Lie. Liiiiiiiieeee. You’re here to win, not make friends or avoid an FCC lawsuit.

2)      Learn to cook – By which I specifically mean, learn to cook: risotto, John Dory, Beef Wellington, and scallops. You cannot believe the number of contestants tossed out for their inability to learn four staples of this stupid show. So: rice pasta, fish, beef in a goddamn oven so most of the work is out of your hands (side-note: make sure the oven’s turned on, because that has bitten more than one contestant on the ass), and, again, fish (raw: bad; rubbery: bad; anything else: “Perfect” in Ramsay’s standards).

3)      Keep learning to cook risotto – You are trying to limit the amount of times things you cook are sent back, and nothing is sent back as much as risotto. And when you learn to cook it, please send a helpful e-mail, because I have tried three times and it’s come out gritty no matter what I do (secondary tip: Maybe don’t buy the Harry & David mix – hasn’t worked out great for me).

4)      Lower your expectations – Don’t listen to anything Ramsay says. There’s no way he’s putting a talentless yahoo like you in charge of one of his restaurants. Maaaybe he’s offering you a job, but it’s just a job. It’s not life-changing. Hell, if you call yourself an “executive chef,” it’s probably not as good as the job you have now.

5)      Don’t be an asshole – You might think this is counterintuitive to being on a reality gameshow, and you’re partially right, since the cooks who go on to the final rounds tend to be cocky assholes. But those are the ones that can actually cook. Otherwise, Ramsay AND the contestants will hate your ass and constantly kick you out of the kitchen, nominate you for elimination, and/or otherwise make you look like a dick on national TV, so you’re better off being kind of anonymous for the first half of the season and then rising up so all the viewers go, “Oh, wait, I think [your name here] might actually be not incompetent.” You’d be amazed how many times that person ends up winning.

6)      Steer clear of the hot-tub – Pretty sure the hot tub is a new setpiece for this season (thanks yet again, “Jersey Shore”), but already some patterns have emerged. Mainly, nobody comes off well in the hot tub. You’ll either get drunk and look like a moron (poor, poor Ed), or you’ll get drunk with someone else and look like a creepy whore. Or a whorish creep. This isn’t a post about gender politics, just trust me, the editors are not there to make you look like a soulful romantic trying to find love where you’d least expect it, okay? Okay.

7)      Gimmicks do not win – By which I mean, if you have any weird, freaky ideas? “I only eat an apple all day”? “I want to win a walk-in freezer to store all the venison I hunt”? Or maybe you have a laugh some might deem “scary as fuck”? TAMP THEM THE HELL DOWN.

8)      Do not fuck with Sous-Chef Scott – Ever wonder what Gordon Ramsay would be like if he were ALSO a marine who kept all his rage bubbling just underneath the surface, waiting for some opportunistic dolt to try to undercut him? You shouldn’t, because your imagination could not begin to concoct the castrating horror that is Scott When Pissed Off.

9)      Learn to talk loudly while cooking – “YOU’RE NOT COMMUNICATING! (SMASH plate of fish)” is pretty much Ramsay’s catchphrase other than “You donkey!” Learn to do two things at once. Practice in your kitchen at home. Yell out the things you’re doing, to no one in particular (if you have a pet, this will be much easier, though sadly, they will think they’re getting food you’re not actually going to give them – and you shouldn’t; fish messes dogs UP). Ramsay gets downright horny about chefs who can say things like “The fish will be another two minutes!” or “I just put the wellington in the oven!” and for the other chefs to say “Okay!” Anything less than that is an utter catastrophe of not-communicating. (On the upside, this is the point where some mouthy would-be-actress/ “restaurant patron” will actually come up to complain, at which point Ramsay will call her an ugly cow or something, so…it’s not all bad.)

10)   Play the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ video game on the Wii – I don’t know if it’ll help, but frankly I’m curious about what the game is like (I imagine you will get yelled at by virtual-Ramsay), and I can’t imagine it will hurt. It will probably be a better education than half the chefs on this show have ever bothered with, so there’s that.

There. Now fuck off, and make me a kick-ass dinner. You DONKEYS!

  1. braak says:

    The trick to good risotto is Arborio rice; it’s got an extra pocket of starch on it that makes it come out creamier if you cook it right (that is, slowly, with water added incrementally every ten(?) minutes or so). I’ve heard, anyway.

    Also, NEVER fuck with a sous-chef. This is just basic general principles. The sous-chef is like the first mate on the ship. Nothing that goes wrong is EVER going to be the sous-chef’s fault. If something went wrong and you try to blame the sous-chef, it was probably your fault.

  2. sebastian says:

    In conjunction with “Watch the show!”: If Ramsey makes you food or does anything nice for you at all that isn’t part of a reward, PAY ATTENTION. This is part of the next challenge. It drives me nuts when people think Ramsey is just making them a fancy meal for the heck of it and then are stunned when they have to recreate the very dish they were apparently paying no attention to.

  3. Tad says:

    also, if a piece of food has touched a trashcan or been on the floor, it is now trash. do not try to deep fry it clean or scrape the part off that didn’t touch any other trash. it is all trash. i still can’t believe that girl 2 or 3 seasons ago didn’t get immediately kicked off when she pulled spaghetti back out of the trash can.

  4. braak says:

    I can’t believe that she got on to Hell’s Kitchen in the first place, if she’s the kind of person who thinks it’s okay to serve spaghetti that she’s pulled out of the trash.

  5. Tad says:

    well, there are always a few that they bring in just so that they can screw up, get yelled at by ramsey, and kicked off. that girl made the final 3 or 4 though, and stuck around for weeks after dumpster diving!

  6. Jeff Holland says:

    Her logic was “boiling water will kill the germs” – which, we should really just be thankful her logic wasn’t “Ten-second rule.”

  7. Tad says:

    yeah, cause the myth busters totally busted that one! somebody old guy on one of the kitchen nightmares series tried the same thing with a chicken wing and a deep fryer and then tried to defend himself by saying that a deep fryer “sterilizes” it anyways.

  8. Jeff Holland says:

    I loved that guy because he was one of those deep-country English dudes where you couldn’t understand anything he said.

    Like the guy in Hot Fuzz with the heavy arsenal in his barn, who needed a translator, who in turn needed a second translator.

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