It's fascinating to watch Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef as back to back episodes because, despite the presence of Gordon Ramsay in both, the two shows couldn't be more different - or, as the first contestant of the night, Felix, a 24 year old server from Los Angeles said "You can't judge a book by its cover."
Looking like a 50's housewife with *ahem* more than her fair share of edge, Felix managed to get the first official "BLEEEP" from the censors at FOX - which is no easy feat. It is a Gordon Ramsay show after all.
And though we had to sit through the prerequisite reality TV suspense moments as the judges stared into the cameras, at her, and each other bringing this tough talking girl to tears as they debated her worthiness to move forward, in the end she was advised by Graham not to be too cocky and then, thankfully, given an apron. All kidding aside, she was fun to watch and I'm glad she's going further.
The next contestant up was an Italian cook named Luka who didn't make it onto the show this season but was encouraged to come back next year.
Luka prepared Venetian liver and though I'm certain it must have been good, I dislike liver in all its nasty incarnations (let alone calf) and I almost lost my dinner when Joe said the medium cooked dish was too done. Apparently Master Chefs prefer their calf innards medium rare - to which I ask, what is it with under cooked meat in the world of cooking these days? I fully embrace a medium rare steak or a nice juicy slice of prime rib, but I draw the line at pork cooked to 145 or the trend toward eating burgers that are pink in the middle.
Whatever happened to a good old fashioned fear of tape worms?
The evening was filled with all kinds of hopefuls from the good like a 24 year old Brazilian artist who wowed the judges (and myself) with dessert, a married couple who each made it onto the show cooking seafood, and Mike - a horseback riding cowboy whose sister died six months ago. He is devoting all of his efforts to her and if his pan seared venison, creamed potatoes, and haricots vertes are any indication of what's to come, then - giddy up!
Not all of the cowboys who auditioned were amazing, though, (and there were cowboys) along with food truck people, a witch, a puppeteer, and a guy with a monkey, which was cute, but, do you want your Master chef whipping up a flan with Mr. Chips sitting on his shoulder?
I didn't think so.
Several other contestants got their aprons including a stockbroker named Frank who made the potentially fatal error of not tasting his food, and worse, telling the judges - but they saw something in him and after some debate, he too was given the nod to move on.
The final contestant of the night, Joel, a former soldier who lost his young son in a swimming accident five years prior, brought me to tears when he said, "I'm still here, I just don't know why, so this has to be the reason."
I'm so glad that he too is getting a chance to move forward this season.
Watch for my recaps again next week, and if you're watching Hell's Kitchen, you can see what I had to say about last night's episode HERE.
Stay tuned later today for a new recipe and video featuring this week's "Name That Dish" winner: Jeanine Friesen's Fiesta Chicken!
By for now!
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