Kicking Back with Jersey Joe: What the Hell is Wrong with HELL’S KITCHEN? Jul23

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Kicking Back with Jersey Joe: What the Hell is Wrong with HELL’S KITCHEN?


a blogumn by Jersey Joe

Get out of my kitchen you no good donkey!  It’s raw!  Stop f***ing wasting my time, madam.  Sound familiar?  If you’ve watched FOX in the last few months, you’ve no doubt seen Chef Gordon Ramsay screaming in a promo.  His venerable show is in the middle of the seventh and shall I say, worst ever season.  It looks as though the fire is starting to smolder out in Hell’s Kitchen.

The show premiered on May 30, 2005 as a summer replacement series.  Each season starts with two teams, that are whittled down to one, and then to a final chef who is then rewarded with a job in a high profile restaurant.  Each week, the chefs go through various challenges.  Afterward, the winning team is given some type of reward, while the losing team is forced to do unpleasant manual labor.  The teams then return to their kitchens for a dinner service with real customers.  The person who performs the worst is then put up for elimination, with Ramsay making the final decision in the standard reality show format.

The series originated in the United Kingdom in 2004 and was created by Ramsay.  He was only able to appear in the first season of the UK version, due to a contract he had signed with the British Channel 4, and was unable to move with the show to ITV.  This season of the UK show also featured a team of celebrities as opposed to real aspiring chefs.

Ramsay is well known on the show for his fiery temper.  His dialogue throughout most episodes is heavily censored.  He also holds the chefs to extremely high standards.  Even the most minor mistake on a dish will subject the contestant to a barrage of insults, profanities, and the dish will be tossed out and have to be prepared again.  Customers are also not immune to his temper.  On several occasions, an outraged diner will confront Ramsay only to be met with the same barrage of cuss words and insults.

Ramsay, born in England, did not aspire to be a chef as a child.  He moved out of his parent’s home at the age of 15 and began a career as a football (soccer) player.  He seriously injured his knee during training for the Rangers Football Club and never fully recovered, which forced hime to leave the sport and take on his next passion, cooking.

After working in numerous high profile European restaurants and even on a yacht, Ramsay finally able raised the capital to open his own restaurant in 1998 and his empire grew rapidly.

He began his stint on television with a little known television documentary Boiling Point in 1998.  He also stars in Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (same as the US version), The F-Word, and MasterChef (the US version begins this summer).  His fiery temper is also present in these shows, although it is much more contained than on Hell’s Kitchen.

When the show crossed the pond to the United States, the celebrity aspect was eliminated and it was turned into a reality show.  The set was constructed at the abandoned studios of KCOP-TV in Los Angeles (which at one time was the home of KCOP 13 News, Tic Tac Dough, and The Joker’s Wild).  The show has since moved to a studio on the other end of the city.  The restaurant on the show is not permanent and is only open to invited guests during tapings.

Hell’s Kitchen is currently in the seventh season and is airing back-to-back episodes on Tuesday nights on FOX.  Up until this season, the challenges for the chefs have been very interesting and the drama during dinner service compelling.  But, this season of the show is way off track.  The biggest problem is the sixteen contestants that were chosen.  They are uninteresting, terrible cooks, and have so much inside turmoil it takes away from the show.

Ramsay has also gone way over the top this year.  He threw the entire red team out of the kitchen during the first episode’s dinner service.  In most of the following shows, he tossed at least one chef out.  In the past, it was dramatic when he would become so upset forcing a chef to leave.  It should be considered embarrassing and would almost guarantee elimination.  However, this year it’s become so common-place, it actually gets in the way of the action.  He seems to be kicking them out, for the littleist things.  When more than one chef is gone, it no longer has the same meaning.  When a whole team is dismissed, we are treated to them simply arguing back in the dorm.

Another mistake is the introduction of a romance between two of the chefs.  The promo for next week promises to be the most dramatic ever, indicating some type of love quarrel.  Leave that for As the World Turns, not this show.  This is a competition against the chefs, not a summer hookup.  This is not high school.

Also, has the Phillip-Morris company given a substantial amount of cash to the producers for this season?  Every chef in there is a massive chain smoker.  Every episode when they are back in the dorm, it’s just one ciggy after another.  It’s seriously a turn off.  They don’t even clean up the butts.  There are humungeous ash trays all over the set that are overflowing.  They really need to cut the smoking out of this show.  I understand smokers are free to enjoy their vice, but this show is shoving it in everyone’s face.  Maybe it was good television in the 1950’s, but Morton Downey, Jr. is dead, people.

The ratings for the show are good enough that it had been ordered for an eighth season, which was taped last year.  The seventh season will end in a few weeks with Ramsay’s Masterchef joining the schedule; however season eight will begin as soon as MasterChef concludes its run.

I am a big fan of the show and Gordon Ramsay, but I may bail on the rest of this season.  The contestants are just awful and Ramsay’s gone too far over the top.  The challenge where the chefs had to wrangle a live pig to serve pork for dinner service was out of line.  The romance plot has no place on this show and feels forced.  Hopefully, the producers have done a better job casting contestants for the next season.  These can’t be the best out of the pool of hundreds that to have auditioned.  I also, do not want to eat at Ramsay’s posh restaurant the Savoy Hotel in London (the prize this season), if any of these knuckleheads have anything to do with the kitchen.

THE 411


When: Tuesday 8pm and 9pm

Where:  FOX (reruns can be watched the next day on

Rating: TV-14

Length: episodes are one hour

JERSEY JOE RECCOMMENDS: If you are dying to know what happens to these chefs, or are just curious, just watch the first minute recap at the beginning of each episode, then flip the channel.  I don’t even care who wins at this point.  None of these chefs will be able to run Ramsay’s restaurant.  Most reality shows are fixed to a certain point and edited in a more dramatic way than what actually happens.  But, this season can’t even be saved in post.  Skip the rest and try again when season eight starts in the fall.  Also, I will not fall for any more of the promos that promise “the most exciting episode of Hell’s Kitchen ever.” Or “It’s a Hell’s Kitchen you have to see to believe.”  Fox, you’ve told me that every week and this year I’ve been disappointed.