Friday, February 6, 2009

"It's Raw!"

He's baaaack! Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey's brutal reality show, has returned in all its full-throated, spittle-flying glory. Yes, I feel dirty after I watch the show but there's just something about it that's immensely pleasurable about in a porn kind of way. Maybe it's the schadenfreude of watching contestants with monstrously inflated, unjustified egos having their noses ground into their own incompetence. Haven't we all worked with someone who thought he was the cat's meow, but had no clue? Wouldn't you have just loved it if some super-accomplished expert had parachuted in, unmasked their ineptitude and in a profanity-laced tirade screamed to them, "Get out!"

Ah, if only life were so.

But the show isn't just histrionics, phony drama and outrageous stunts. Hell's Kitchen's underlying theme is excellence, excellence above ego, adversity, injury or any other conceivable obstacle. Ramsey's brutally unrelenting demand that his charges meet the absolute highest standards is truly admirable. And his equally forceful stripping away of the contesants' egos is refreshing in an America where everyone thinks they are a genius or immensely talented, but few really are.

The highlight of last night's episode, the second of the season, was hapless cooking school owner Colleen showing once again that she hasn't a clue about cooking. "You're robbing people!" Ramsey screamed. No kidding. Based on what she's shown so far, having this women teach you cooking is like having George Bush teach you to be president. Perhaps she will get better, but I predict an early departure.

The biggest disappointment was Ji's elimination because of injury. Ramsey loved her signature dish, a miso-infused sea bass with buckwheat noodles. She clearly had the talent and gumption, which she demonstrated last night by soldiering through a badly injured ankle, to win it all. I'm extremely disappointed to see her go.

I'm already counting the days until Ramsey's next tirade.

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