I learned, first hand, that not everything you see reflects reality (and though that statement might make the more jaded among us roll their eyes), I can honestly tell you I've walked through the better part of my life with my own set of rose colored glasses firmly in place - so when I say I was surprised by almost all of of what went on Sound Stage X (Recipe to Riches), I'm telling the truth.
To the good, it boosted my confidence in the kitchen; but to the bad, it totally shattered all lingering school girl fantasies that Oz might actually exist.
People, the Wizard really is just some guy standing behind a screen.
In a warehouse.
And Hell's Kitchen is no different.
The dining room, which is shot to look like a high end restaurant on TV, is in reality, a large warehouse filled with cameras everywhere - including the dorms, the bathrooms and behind the mirrors - designed to catch the Hell's Kitchen cooks during the good, the bad, and ugly of their culinary journey with Gordon Ramsay.
And for the first 3/4 of every season, the bad and the ugly is what we clamor to watch.
That and everyone's favorite pissed off maitre d' Jean Philippe Susilovic who returned this year for season 11.
I've often wondered if Susilovic, who began his career as a Belgian television personality, actually has restaurant experience or if it's all an act.
In that sense, I'm happy to report that, in this case, the reality is real.
According to Wikipedia: "Jean-Philippe joined Gordon in 1995 in Gordon's restaurant Aubergine. Jean-Philippe's experience in Michelin-starred restaurants broadened when he moved to the U.S. to work in restaurants such as New York's La Panetiere, Danube and Daniel's. In October 2001, he moved to the Middle East to work with Chef Ramsay as the manager of Verre at the Hilton Dubai Creek.
Susilovic left the American Hell's Kitchen show following the seventh season due to his commitment as Restaurant Director at Gordon Ramsay's London restaurant Petrus."
From everything I've read, the cooking and drama in the kitchen is real as well. Scenes are not re-shot and, according to diners, the food coming out of the kitchen, though not always great, is being cooked in the moment, often while the scallops and risotto are, literally, hitting the fan.
To get a reservation, diners apply on line and then are required to sign waivers that they may or may not get fed. Apparently they're supplied with an unlimited quantity of bread, beer and wine throughout dinner service but there's no guarantee they will have an entire meal.
This clears things up for me big time, because I've long time wondered how all those people get served after Gordon Ramsey bellows "This is RO-AH!!!!" for the last time and kicks everyone out of the kitchen.
On that note, apparently the contestants, once kicked out, have to undergo a full psychiatric evaluation before re-entering mainstream life.
To which I say - Amen!
After my reality TV experience I was was channeling Sweet Baby Jane for at least a year.
But I'll save that for another blog!
Until then, I'm excited to share a cocktail that is so refreshing you might just think you're in Oz!
Cucumber Rosemary Lemonade Cocktail
Visit the printable recipe here: Cucumber Rosemary Lemonade
Learn how to make this with my step by step video:
Cucumber Lemonade Cocktail
- 2 ounces vodka
- 2 ounces lemon juice
- 2 ounces water
- 2 ounces liquid honey
- 6 slices cucumber
- 1 sprig rosemary
- club soda
- lemon slices and rosemary for garnish
Muddle cucumber in a shaker. Fill with ice cubes. Add lemon juice, honey, water and rosemary. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes. Top with club soda. Garnish with lemon slices and another small sprig of rosemary.
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