Whether it’s tears of laughter or fear, Gordon Ramsey has the undeniable power to make you cry. Hell’s Kitchen’s contestants quickly learn that there’s a fine line between fear and laughter as they prepare and perfect their ‘nervous laughter’ technique.
While it’s no secret that Gordon Ramsey’s earned his stripes, (cough-cough), 15 Michelin stars to be exact in the culinary world as a chef and restaurateur, in the past few years, he’s become more of a celebrity personality with his ruthless demand for culinary perfection, his explosive temper, and his inventive, derogatory, and foul mouth. Not to mention, he’s also personally responsible for putting Hell’s classic dish, beef Wellington, on the map as one of the hardest meat delicacies to cook.
Without fail, Hell’s Kitchen’s contestants continuously manage to screw it up by either overcooking, undercooking or forgetting the garnish all together. Leave it to none other than Ramsey to bring the chefs to tears, as he spits out their food, smashes the plate to pieces, and tells them to f*ck off out of the kitchen. There’s no doubt that cooking your way to the top in Hell’s Kitchen is challenging, but falling under pressure to Satan that is Ramsey … Impossible.
Ramsey’s overtly rude and furious persona turns competitive chefs into television’s laughing stock. In season 8, Ramsey refers to a piece of overcooked meat as, “Ghandi’s flip-flop,” to which a line cook replies, “Ghandi didn’t even wear flip-flops. He lived in the jungle. I don’t even think the dude had shoes.”
Culinary hiccups and mistakes (both understatements) never go unnoticed in the kitchen. In fact, Ramsey “would rather eat poodle sh*t” than taste ill-executed dishes, and who could forget the classic, “IT’S RAW” remark that leaves Ramsey’s mouth more times than a California Valley girl says, “like.”
By season 6, the hardest dish to cook on Hell’s menu, beef Wellington, was removed because most chefs completely failed at living up to Ramsey’s expectations of the dish. The meat station in recent seasons mostly consists of lamb. In Hell’s Kitchen, there are no real winners; no one’s immune to Ramsey’s insults and everyone leaves with a broken soul and damaged ego. Even the ones who quote on quote “win” the competition’s prize of $250,000 and the false promise of being head chef at a Ramsey restaurant go through the ring of fire, which explains why the show is so successful.
From season to season, the show persists to focus less on talent, and more on Ramsey’s infamous one-liners. The show’s motive isn’t to shine light on improving and hardworking chefs, it’s to see how far Ramsey will go to ensure a psychological break down or a visit to the emergency room. Overnight, crying becomes the least of their worries. Take chef Joseph from season 6 who went from zero-to-Chris Brown on the rage scale after Ramsey asked him to reveal his team’s nominations for elimination. Joseph threw off his chef’s coat and suggested him and Ramsey “go outside” to settle their differences like men. Or Simone from season 12, who eliminated herself from the competition in a soft-spoken whisper of a voice, “It’s okay, chef, I can go.”
Undoubtedly, Ramsey has a way of making these chefs go crazy. Any effort to talk back to Ramsey goes unnoticed, as he buries wise guys’ backbones under an endless flow of f*cks and sh*ts, followed by “you donkey,” “piss off,” “shut your big fat mouth,” and “stop pointing at me like I’m some f*cking picture.”
Surprisingly, 18 new chefs entered the gates of Hell this past Wednesday to start the 13th cycle of Hell’s Kitchen, and none of them are here to make friends. By now, these poor sons of b*tches should know what they’re getting into: name calling, manual labor, and heaps of embarrassment. Hell’s contestants should also know what it takes to win: a well-cooked risotto dish, and a relatively normal personality, which means no Asian Cowboys from season 3, and no one screaming, “I AIN’T NO B*TCH” from season 6.
Two other helpful hints: don’t be ridiculously overweight, and keep your mouth shut. Opportunely for entertainment purposes, the competitors never learn, and Ramsey continues to succeed at bringing them to tears. Does this mean Hell’s Kitchen focuses more on drama and less on culinary skills? Yes, it does. This also suggests that Hell’s winners are chosen more so on their physical appearance than their talent. Think back to Rahman Harper, aka “Rock,” who won season 3. Yes, he was a talented chef, but more importantly, he was young, attractive and fit. The same description goes to winners Scott Commings from season 12, Holli Ugalde season 7, and Dave Levey season 6.
Basically, if competitors suffer from any medical emergency during the season’s filming, they won’t win, which immediately eliminates half the competition. Can spectators really blame chef Ramsey’s choice to have a pretty face represent his business at worldwide restaurants? Most businessmen would do the same.
Now that 12 seasons have successfully wrapped, and a 13th on the way, it’s obvious Hell’s producers must be doing something right. With other competitive cooking shows currently on air such as Top Chef, and all its spin offs, Iron Chef, Chopped, and most recently, MTV’S Snack Off, surely Hell’s Kitchen has a way of setting itself apart from the rest, and for so long. The key to success: Gordon Ramsey. Ramsey is the only true winner in Hell’s Kitchen, the only star, and the only one audiences remember and tune in every week to see. For some, a weekly dose of Ramsey is not enough. Fortunately, YouTube supplies a remedy: an infinite loop of Ramsey’s uncensored profane semantics – and it’s glorious.
Careful, NSFW. Luckily for us, the 13th season started off with a big bang two-hour season premier, which allowed the puppy-eyed, tail-between-their-legs chefs to cook their signature dishes – cause that always ends well. Not to reveal any spoiler alerts of who goes home first, but there’s a rumor that lingers around Hell’s Kitchen: the first dinner service ticket is jinxed, and whoever cooks it, gets eliminated. History has a way of repeating itself, so let’s see if we can predict the “winner” right off the premiere episode. Hint-hint, it’s centered on physical appearance, and maybe slightly based on the quality of f*cking disgusting dog-food piece of sh*t concoction on a silver platter that resembles food.
Sophie is a recent graduate from Arizona State University with a BA in Film and Media Studies. Born in London, and raised in Prague, she is a natural born traveller, which led to exploring Southeast Asia and most recently, Alaska. Whilst traveling, she’s expanded her knowledge and passion for foreign film and music. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she’s worked on television sets, a 2014 Sundance short, and participated in a live taping of “America’s Got Talent.” Sophie’s attentiveness for music began at seventeen, when she first gained access to the senior lounge’s speaker system, and often got into trouble for blasting explicit lyrics through her high school’s hallways. In her free time, Sophie spends countless hours at the movies, tattoo parlors, and local dog parks.