Just a couple quick notes about recent food TV developments.
First up, Gordon Ramsay is bringing his excellent BBC show 'Kitchen Nightmares' to these shores. Unfortunately, the show is airing on FOX so, if the promos are to be believed, the US version will feature all of the cursing, plate throwing and haranguing of 'Hell's Kitchen' and none of the charm, concern and empathy Gordo shows in the Brit version. Naturally, because it's the US and the only thing we love more than reality TV is a good lawsuit, one of the participants in the US version sued Ramsay, accusing him and the show's producers of rigging the program behind-the-scenes. Earlier this month a judge put the suit in arbitration and Ramsay recently blasted the suit – and the US – in a TV Week article.
While we're on the subject of Ramsay, should I even bother talking about the finale of the third season of 'Hell's Kitchen'? There had been mild controversy over the show since it was leaked earlier this year that sweaty executive chef Rock was the winner. The finale, in which Rock bested annoyingly weepy nanny/chef Bonnie, held little suspense but since I'd invested many Monday nights I felt obligated to watch it till the bitter end. (I'm not alone. Syndicate Product scribe Aj Michel pretty much felt the same way.)
My biggest disappointment with the show was probably the behavior of Waffle House cook Julia during the finale. Easily the person I was most rooting for to win the whole thing, Julia got booted off late in the competition but scored a free ride to culinary school thanks to Ramsay's appreciation of her obvious talents. So, why was she such a complete bitch in the finale? Okay, so you didn't win and you thought you were better than Bonnie. So what? You're going to culinary school on FOX's dime. Enjoy it and leave the attitude at the door.
Luckily, I couldn't have been the only one who enjoyed the continual, national television meltdown of the blue team's Josh. If I was him I'd quickly change my name, shave off that ridiculous cheard (chin + beard = cheard), and make sure I never, ever mentioned 'Hell's Kitchen' on my resume.
Last, and certainly not least, Bravo's 'Top Chef' returns tonight without Tre, one of my early picks to win the whole thing. Unfortunately, the two-part 'Restaurant Wars' competition was destined to end with one of the Executive Chefs – Tre or Sara – getting the boot. Which seems pretty unfair given that Brian and Dale simply ran the front of the house, contributing little or nothing to the actual food that was served. (I think Dale may have contributed one dish to the menu but he offset that by dressing for the second night's service like he was working the snack bar at the local swim club.) Kudos, too, for bringing on two monumental assclowns – Season One's Stephen and Madonna's Brother – for our amusement.
But the two biggest developments in the show had to have been the unbelievably mind-numbing knife "skills" shown by Casey and the kinder, gentler version of Hung that has emerged over the last few episodes. Personally, Hung would have been my choice for exec chef on his team, but he allowed Sara to nominate herself. Then, instead of pushing to be involved with the food selection, he went with Dale to pick out smelly candles at Pier 1. Frankly, I'd have been staggered had Hung – another serious contender for the title – been eliminated thanks to the overpowering scent of vanilla.
Back to Casey for a minute. She may have an impressive palette, not to mention an impressive something else, but her onion chopping performance in the Quickfire Challenge left me speechless. How does somebody get that far in the kitchen biz with such rudimentary accumen with the blade?