I hope you don't mind a brief departure from the usual restaurant reviews that you find here. I'm currently in an arts criticism class, so I suddenly feel compelled to write about TV. I'm not really into reality TV - American Idol never appealed to me (aside from footage of the awful auditions...I find those strangely riveting), Survivor was fun for just the first season, and that Paris Hilton show...really? Who let that on the air? - but food reality TV is a whole different story.
I'm addicted to Gordon Ramsay's obscenity-filled diatribes towards the group of bumbling food industry peons that want to take over his next restaurant. I've watched Hell's Kitchen on and off since Season 1, and this latest season, which started a week ago, shows some promise. Last season was full of embarrassingly inexperienced contestants, many of whom were probably picked for sheer comedic value, but there's been talk that the producers wanted a more realistic competition this time around and looked for people who actually have talent.
Last week was probably the most promising premiere with about half of the contestants receiving compliments (or at least not getting yelled at) after cooking their signature dishes for Ramsay. A few weaklings are already standing out, though. Colleen, 41, from Nebraska presented Ramsay with enchiladas that he thought were diapers, and she responded that she feeds big Nebraskan boys (and offered to cut a piece for Ramsay). She also revealed that she is a cooking instructor who has never been trained herself, and she somehow manages to charge $300 for 3-4 hour cooking classes. Appalled, Ramsay spit out the food and asked if she seriously charges $300, and Colleen replied that she also teaches etiquette classes. Another contestant who probably won't last long is Lacey, 24, a corporate buffet cook from Charlotte. She wanted to watch her teammates at the various prep stations before attempting anything herself and ended up spending part of the morning upstairs moping instead of helping her team, claiming that she didn't know how to do anything. Fortunately for Lacey and Colleen, the men's team as a whole seems like it might have trouble beating the women's team, at least for the first few episodes, so the weak men will likely get kicked off first.
There aren't any clear strong contestants yet, so I'm currently rooting for Ben, the 26-year-old executive sous chef from Chicago, just because he looks like my boyfriend who is also named Ben. It's a silly reason to root for someone, but reality TV is all about picking irrational favorites anyway.
If you didn't catch the first episode, it's still available online. Episode 2 is on tonight at 9 on Fox. I'm predicting that the men will lose, but I'm not sure who would get kicked off yet...maybe Seth. If the women lose, I think Lacey will be packing her bags.