As Hell’s Kitchen continues to wind along, I feel the need to point out the obvious. The show is certainly not about the food. It is about verbal and psychological abuse. Unfortunately, this week’s episode even veered into territory of disdain for food.
The week’s challenge for unlucky Hell’s Kitchen contestants was a taste test. The reason for this test ostensibly was to test and hone the contestants’ palate. Unfortunately, the manner in which the test was conducted easily could have interfered with the performance of the contestants in an unfair manner. However, poor performance is certainly the goal since it provides opportunity for more verbal abuse from Chef Ramsay. While the contestants were tasting the items, they were given headphones blaring loud music, according to one contestant. This was meant to prevent them from hearing the announcement of the item tasted and the response of the contestant from the other team. However, research into interactions between senses demonstrate that information from other senses can interfere with the performance of the targeted sense. In other words, the loud music could have definitely interfered with the performance of all of the contestants. However, Hell’s Kitchen is far too anti-intellecual to expect that matter to be taken into account.
The punishment for the by now predictable loss of the men involved eating a plateful of various animal organs and body parts that collectively would go by the term offal. Chef Ramsay preyed upon typical American squeamishness at eating animal organs to present eating these items as the punishment du jour. Those with strong culinary knowledge – and I would assume that would include Gordon Ramsay – are aware that offal is a significant part of the cuisine of many cultures around the world including most of Europe. It is primarily just Americans who feel a revulsion to eating these items. Perhaps that is why only one contestant, Rock, was filmed as having particularly strong difficulty completing this task. If you are watching reality cooking shows at least in part to learn more about food, instead of simply revel in Ramsay’s bullying, check out Offal Good, the blog of an American pioneer in cooking and serving these alternative animal parts.
Following the taste test, the remainder of Hell’s Kitchen descended into the same ole same ole of the inability of the contestants to get all of their food out under the constant barrage of abusive language. This week we even got to see Chef Gordon Ramsay insult a customer! Ultimately, Ramsay overruled the attempts of the contestants to vote off their top competition Survivor-style, and instead he selected the man he deemed the weakest link, Vinnie. Charged with preparing the Beef Wellingtons for customers, Vinnie was the target of Chef Ramsay’s shouted “You don’t care anymore!” I must admit that I didn’t know whether that was true of Vinnie, but it is becoming increasingly true of me, the viewer.
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