As we were all impatiently waiting for the finale to find out if Rock or Bonnie would be the executive chef of their own restaurant at Las Vegas’ Green Valley Ranch, Fox Television took the opportunity to grab a bit more of the ratings derby with a drawn-out pre-finale show. Fortunately, there was a challenge featuring the cooking skills of both final contestants amid all of the filler.
The show kicked off with a lengthy recap of each and every episode so far of this season’s Hell’s Kitchen. We got to see – one more time- Aaron’s collapse and Josh’s dramatic eviction from the kitchen among many other lesser moments. After a warm and fuzzy bit that featured Rock’s children, we were then introduced to the final challenge which gives Rock and Bonnie each half of the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant to develop as their own.
Bonnie and Rock were each seen discussing ideas about their restaurants with the people who will put the elements together. Bonnie spoke about European style, slightly romantic, and involving eclectic, colorful, design with possibly even mismatched dishes and utensils on the table. Rock counters with an American focus, Southern in particular, in black and white with strong matching conformity…oh, and his idea of jeans on waiters was nixed. Bonnie seemed thrilled to be expanding her favorite things into a full menu. I could almost hear Julie Andrews singing The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things” in the background. Rock, on the other hand, had a hard time figuring out how to expand his signature fried chicken and crab cakes into an entire menu.
The big challenge for this episode was set up through a visit to Las Vegas and the Green Valley Resort, future home of the winner of this year’s Hell’s Kitchen. The two contestants were given 30 minutes to create a representation of their signature dish. Rock put together his fried chicken and crab cakes while Bonnie delivered shrimp and lobster fettucine. No details on specific seasonings were provided, but this is Hell’s Kitchen, not Top Chef. A procession of Las Vegas chefs and celebrities were paraded on to taste test the dishes and give their judgment. I thought Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous had died some time ago. Oops! I was wrong. He happily appeared as one of the judges for this challenge.
The producers did their best to create a breathless atmosphere of anticipation at who would win the challenge, but it never seemed in doubt that underdog Bonnie would take the prize. The next attempt at a surprise was introducing the 6 most recently eliminated contestants to be assistants for Rock and Bonnie in the finale service. Julia was in a mood about not being the female finalist. After Bonnie and Rock ended up choosing their teams in a way that recreates the women vs. men competition of earlier in the season, I couldn’t help but wonder if we were being set up for a sabotage by Julia. She indicated she would prefer for Rock to win. Stay tuned folks! The finale takes place this Monday, August 13 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.