Hey all I can’t believe we have reached the end of this season’s Hell’s Kitchen. Before I watch the episode here is my quick analysis of the final three:
Kevin- It’s funny- last night when I was trying to fall asleep I realized that we have not seen anything about Kevin’s ankle injury for a while. It’s possible it may have healed but it’s also possible the producers are focusing more on Dave’s injury to make Dave seem like a more sympathetic figure since he won. It wouldn’t surprise me. Still, though Kevin has arguably been the most consistent of the three, with his only real blunder being when he destroyed the risotto rice a few episodes back. His leadership skills seem to be his real strength, which will come in handy during the “running the pass” challenge they always have in the top three episode.
Dave- If I had to pick the contestant who going into the finale I think is going to win it would be Dave. Besides the constant focus on his injury that makes him more likable Chef Ramsay seems to have a soft spot for him, like when he had the little Gordon Ramsay last week make fun of Dave but not the other finalists. He too has shown consistency during service, though he has struggled during challenges (remember the “fig” fiasco???). I’m also wondering how he will do running the pass this week; he proved he can lead by example when he took over Andy’s station after Andy cut himself, but he’s not the vocal leader that Kevin is.
Ariel-I honestly think she will be the first to go tonight, though the one saving grace for her is that the last three finales have all been man vs. woman. She has had a bad last few weeks (save for last week) and also might struggle in the leadership department. I’m rooting for her since she has shown herself to be the nicest of the three- she has never gotten into a fight with her fellow competitors, and she really takes responsibility for her failures. I’m sure Chef admires these qualities as well but as he said when he fired Amanda nice girls don’t make good head chefs.
-Ariel says she didn’t expect her family to surprise her like they did- has she ever seen this show??
-This is a very interesting final challenge- but one that I like. The Araxi is going to be full of people from different countries during the Olympics next year, and the winning chef will have to know how to cook for this diverse audience. I feel bad for Ariel though- how do you cook fine dining Chinese food?
-Then again Dave got Indian food- ouch. And he’s never cooked it before. Kevin lucked out with Mexican- Rick Bayless has shown us that Mexican food can be fine cuisine.
-Kevin is of course super confident, Ariel fairly confident, and Dave completely nervous. That of course means Kevin will get last and Dave will win.
-Dave is smart to cook a dish he knows how to do and just make it Indian with spices and stuff. That’s the kind of dish the Araxi would likely serve since it would appeal to multiple tastes. Also good idea to not use the meats Indians worship. He is using pork, but don’t they worship pigs as well as cows???
-Ooh now masters of these kinds of food are coming to judge- awesome! Am I supposed to know who Mr. Chow is???
-Hey Ariel’s pulling a Dave and not remembering what she made. And somehow when Chef asked her if she’s made Chinese food before I don’t think he meant take-out haha.
-They should totally have the judges rate the food on a scale from 1-10 like they do for figure skating or how they used to do for gymnastics in the Olympics. Good thing there’s no Russian judges haha.
-Ariel gets mixed reviews- the Indian judges likes it but the others don’t – the Chinese chef says the sauce is too watery but that it is a “nice try”- that’s the kiss of death right there.
-Wow Kevin forgot the sauce- maybe there’s hope for Dave and Ariel. I have a feeling it might not matter though since even without the sauce Kevin’s dish looks delicious. Indeed the Mexican judge says it needed the sauce but the other two gave the dish high praise.
-Now it’s down to Dave. This should be interesting. Luckily the Indian chef seems to be the Paula Abdul of the group. But alas I was right about pigs being worshipped in India too. I wonder why Chef Ramsay even left the pork out for Dave to use- was he just trying to fool the one-armed bandit? However all three judges love the dish. Wow is actually going to win despite offending half of India?
-Indeed Dave does win the challenge unanimously despite using the wrong protein. I totally figured he would win with all the focus on how he’d never done Indian food before. And more and more I’m starting to think he will win this season.
-And as a reward he gets one-on-one time with these famous chefs AND a meal from them. That’s a great prize so close to the end- it will give him ideas for his own menu in the finale (assuming he makes it that far, which at this point is a pretty safe bet). AND free cookware!
-All Kevin and Ariel have to do as punishment is prep the kitchen and decorate the dining room. Guess he doesn’t want to punish the losers too much since they have been so strong the rest of the season.
-That does suck that Kevin and Ariel have to watch the master class for Dave going on right in front of them. Dave’s family also comes back again- isn’t he going to see them in a few days anyway when the show ends? Plus he just saw them the night before. Seems like a bit much to me (though I know Chef does this every year).
-Haha for JP rubbing it into Kevin and Ariel’s face that the food Dave is eating looks really good and that he seems to be having a good time at this reward.
-Glad to see Kevin’s big ego was not bruised too much by his defeat’ he’s still guaranteeing victor. And hey Dave’s talking to himself again!
-I’m upset they got rid of the ritual of having the contestants yell at Chef Ramsay before service to practice running the hot plate. That was always a personal favorite of mine.
-I love Chef-“It’s been very peaceful” running the pass this year, he claims, “I’ve never walked out, I’ve never thrown anything”.
-Presumably Chef Ramsay will continue his tradition of having the sous chefs mess up on purpose to see if the finalists can spot the errors. Though it does seem like the first person to run the pass has a disadvantage in not knowing errors are coming (unless of course they’ve seen the show before).
-Kevin is up first, so at least the contestant I like least is getting the disadvantage. Though he’s also the one I expect will do the best at running the pass. As he (of course) tells us, he has run his team before when his other teammates have struggled. I think this is a bit different though.
-And indeed Kevin gets a quality control test, with Scott substituting the wrong fish for a dish. That seems like it should be easy to spot- the two fishes are different colors after all. Chef never makes these mistakes too hard to spot or it wouldn’t be totally fair I guess.
-Kevin passes this test with flying colors. But wow is Scott a bad actor- claiming he “accidentally” put the wrong fish on the plate. Even if I didn’t know the mistake was a setup I wouldn’t have believed him.
-So Ariel pushes the time needed for her dish from one minute (what Kevin wants) to 1.5 minutes, and Kevin claims that’s “slowing him down”??? Half a minute is nothing compared to how much Suzanne slowed down the kitchen when she was on the show.
-Kevin then claims Ariel overcooked her lamb, while Ariel claims it was perfect. I’m surprised Chef Ramsay didn’t come in to see who was right, because I have no idea. Good solider Ariel though remakes her lamb.
-I really think Ariel is a goner- now she messes up another lamb. Kevin tells her to cut it more, which Ariel claims will mess it up. She briefly protests but then follows Kevin’s instructions, only to have Kevin send it back again. I love Ariel but this seems to be her fault more than Kevin’s- she is the one who messed up the lamb so that cutting it messed it up further, and she should have warned Kevin more clearly before she cut it. She’s almost being too nice in this situation, and it could come back to haunt her.
-I’m surprised Chef is blaming Kevin for the lamb issues and not Ariel. And now Ariel is talking back to Kevin- she must really be ticked off.
-Kevin’s leadership style can rub people like Ariel the wrong way, which is his main weakness, but at the same time Chef Ramsay has a similar style and it works for him.
-I wonder if Kevin is going to sabotage Ariel when she runs the hot plate since he seems to think Ariel did the same to him (which she clearly didn’t).
-Dave is next up, proclaiming the kitchen won’t run him. Wow he can actually yell. And whip a towel onto a table??? Well that’s a side of him we haven’t seen before.
-He’s even telling Scott to use a wooden spoon. Poor Scott- he always gets the brunt of the abuse from overambitious finalists running the pass. I thought Kevin’s style was a bit over the top but Dave is even worse.
-Did he just tell JP to be quiet? I’m just in shock right now. It’s a whole new side of Dave, and not one that I like.
-However, it is effective, though now he will face the quality control test. He though has to distinguish spinach puree from asparagus- which seems a lot harder to spot than a wrong fish.
-Aaand Dave fails. He even tastes the risotto but doesn’t taste the difference in the purees. Strike one against Dave (or strike two if you consider his over-aggressiveness strike one).
-Here comes his second chance at quality control, again from Scott- does Heather not get a chance to make a messed up dish? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone miss two quality control errors in a row. But WOW Dave misses the second one as well. Maybe he’s not the lock for the finals I thought he was. Though the second sabotage was hard to spot as well- tuna wrapped in herbs instead of seeds.
-If he gets to the finals after missing two sabotages then that must mean Chef thinks Dave is going to win.
-Finally he catches the mistake on the third try (though cold tuna is easier to spot than the wrong puree or seasoning)- and then starts catching a whole bunch in a row. He seems to do well after the poor start but it might be too little too late.
-Last up is Ariel, who really needs to prove herself as a leader. Hey she has a pretty loud voice when she needs to.
-Finally it’s Heather’s turn to send up a sabotaged dish- this one again involving a puree. I still say Kevin got the easiest mistake to spot of the three. Like Dave she also tastes the dish but does not spot the error. I don’t know if that’s worse than not tasting it at all. Chef seems to think there’s a big difference in the two purees but Ariel says it never occurred to her that it wasn’t potato. Hopefully she’ll at least catch the second error, especially since she should be looking for one now.
-This time Ariel gets the same sabotage Kevin did- wrong fish- and spots it. Good for her. And we get to see more of Scott’s horrible acting as he plays dumb again.
-Just when it seems like Ariel is getting her act together she calls out too many orders at once and confuses Kevin. Kevin asks Heather what is going on, which earns him a little scolding from Chef, but as Chef points out it is Ariel’s responsibility to keep the kitchen under control. Ariel is blaming Kevin for being slow (just as she was when he ran the pass) but she has shown that she struggles with leadership more than the other two do. Kevin is clearly the strongest of the three leadership-wise, and while Dave’s fake-aggressive style didn’t win him many friends he got the job done (minus the quality control).
-Ariel starts taking control, but Kevin continues to lag behind. I hate these accusations of sabotage among the finalists since I never think they are true but in this case I really wonder. Even Chef notes that scallops don’t take that long to cook, and for someone who has been so strong the entire season he sure picked an odd time to take his time and then send up a burnt scallop.
-The end of service goes smoothly, and it really could go any way. I think Ariel has to be in trouble because of her slow start and her poor coordination as leader, but if Chef thinks Dave’s quality control was too poor or that Kevin did sabotage Ariel on purpose either of them could go home as well.
-Ooh now Chef asks each contestant to say who should go home. Ariel will say Kevin, and Kevin will say Ariel, but I’m interested to see who Dave says.
-Ariel accuses Kevin of sabotage, Kevin says he would never do that, though I’m not sure I believe him. Dave doesn’t know what to do, and I do admire him for that.
-Kevin tells Chef he feels Ariel is not quite good enough to be head chef. Ariel claims Kevin didn’t fully have her back as she ran the pass. So it’s down to Dave as we go to commercial. I wonder if Dave’s going to automatically make the final round since he’s not going to get any votes from fellow competitors- unless of course he votes for himself.
-We finally hear Dave’s answer, and he seems pretty sad to say that he felt lost when Ariel was running the hot plate. I’d have to agree with him- she is my favorite of the three but she messed up the most this episode- she was slow when Kevin ran things, missed one quality control test, and couldn’t control her kitchen without Chef’s help. Plus she has been in the bottom two before while the other two have not.
-Chef prolongs the suspense by asking each contestant why they should stay. I think Ariel was least convincing.
-And we get the usual giant posters showing each finalists’ picture with fire in the background. Except this time he is using them to announce his final two. I still think Ariel is gone but I’ve been surprised before.
-So Dave is first in the finals. I guess his quality control mistakes did not outweigh his challenge win or his prior strong showing in the kitchen. No matter who he is facing I think he is the favorite to win. Chef even took him aside when he messed up those quality control dishes- that to me shows that Chef already sees Dave as his potential winner and is thus showing him extra patience.
-Not surprisingly Kevin is the next person sent through and Ariel is sent home. I like her but she proved in this episode she is not yet cut out to run a kitchen. Guess I’m rooting for Dave now- I still can’t stand Kevin and his smugness.
-Many have predicted this finale from the beginning, and it should be an interesting fight. Kevin has the stronger leadership skills but can rub people the wrong way with his attitude. He also can make dumb mistakes like he did with the mole in the challenge. Dave has a strong attitude and can lead by example but still hasn’t shown he can fully take charge without being too abrasive. Still I think his story of having the broken wrist and persevering through that will put him over the top.
-Awww Chef tells Ariel to keep her jacket- has he ever done that before? I think he might have done that with Ariel but I’m not sure. And it seems like Kevin and Ariel have no hard feelings after their fight earlier that night.
-Wow Ariel’s hair looks really scary when it’s not in a ponytail. And Dan’s photo looks weird without his signature beanie.
-So it’s the battle of the walking wounded- if Kevin is still wounded that is. But first of course the contestants much choose their teams from the previously eliminated contestants. That means someone is stuck with Andy and someone is stuck with Suzanne- hopefully not the same person (unless it’s Kevin who gets stuck with both of them- then it’s a very good thing).
-The episode ends with a limo being called for the final two. I’m guessing they are flying to see their potential new restaurant/meet their potential new bosses since that’s the final reward every year.
-But first we get the obligatory season recap. Wow I forgot about Melinda and Louis. And all the fights early this year. Van vs. JP- that was a classic. I don’t remember Scott yelling at Andy though… Chef Ramsay was his usually “cuddly” self- leaving the kitchen, throwing Louis out mid-service. When are they going to mention the injuries? Next is all the fights with Chef Ramsay. I forgot about Tennille cursing out Chef- that was way back when we all thought she was incompetent. Aw the good old days. Where is that military guy who wouldn’t tell Chef his nominees for elimination? Oh there he is- Joseph, that was his name. Him cursing out Chef was another early highlight (or maybe lowlight). And hey here’s the injury segment of the recap. There’s Robert’s heart, Andy’s finger, and of course Kevin and Dave, who as the announcer reminds us, were both injured the same day. At least we finally get a mention of Kevin’s injury. Oh his ankles “gradually improved”- that’s why they haven’t been mentioned in weeks. But of course Dave almost had to drop out every week because of his wrist. Actually it was three times according to the announcer, but who’s counting.
-Dave is surprised he’s been whisked away via limo? Hasn’t he ever seen this show?? He’s probably going to the Araxi or at least to their final challenge. In fact they are heading to a hotel roof- hope they aren’t afraid of heights!!
-Indeed this is their final challenge, with a whole bunch of random people who I’m probably supposed to recognize but don’t as judges. Of course it will come down to the final judge- it always does.
-Dave is doing an “easy” dish according to Kevin, but no dish can be easy with one arm, right?
-They should bring back all the former winners as judges but they probably won’t. And hey what’s with the random blondes calling out Dave’s name. Hey girls he’s taken!
-First judges is Alain Gayot- a famous food writer/critic or something. At least Dave knows what he made this time haha. Alain likes Dave’s dish and Kevin’s as well, but votes for Dave.
-Next up is Jamie Maw- a Canadian food critic. He also likes both but picks Dave. Wow could there actually be a knockout on the last challenge? That never happens.
-Third critic is Tanya Steel. I’ll bet anything she’ll vote for Kevin’s dish just to heighten the suspense. And indeed she does.
-Fourth is an executive chef, Warren Geraghty- another Canadian. And of course he votes for lobster- shocker. So it’s down to the last judge….
-Colman Andrews from Gourmet Magazine- didn’t they just close that magazine?? Of course he struggles with his choice before picking…. Dave! Of course- the one who gets the first two votes usually wins. That means Dave gets first choice of teammates in the final service (I’m guessing he’ll pick Ariel) and will also have the tough choice between Suzanne or Andy at the end of the selection process. More evidence that Dave is going to win the whole show.
-The next morning is menu design. Dave sticks with simple- hey it worked in the challenge.
-Chef brought in special ingredients- the previous contestants hiding in a Trojan Horse truck. Hey it’s better than last year when he had all the contestants look headless. I see Van and Robert- hmm that’s interesting Robert instead of Andy. AND AMANDA IS BACK!!!! Yay!! Rounding out the six are Ariel, Sabrina, and Suzanne. Suzanne should be the last one picked but even so all six are fairly strong- not like previous years where Lacey and Matt were brought back. I’m surprised Tennille’s not there though.
-Dave goes first, and his first pick is Ariel. Solid choice. Kevin is next- I’d go with Van or Robert. And indeed Van is the choice- those two were old roommates so that makes sense- the two will get along well. Just keep him away from JP haha.
-Dave’s second pick is Robert. Again solid choice- he’s made it far in the past even though he completely failed this year. Now if he picks Amanda as his last choice he’ll have a solid team, though Kevin may pick her first. Kevin’s next pick is Amanda. Boo- that means I can’t root for her anymore I guess. Aw she looked so cute when she got picked before Sabrina and Suzanne. Did they have to show the scene of her thinking 3 X 3 was 6? She’s had so many more better moments, especially on fish, which is why Kevin picked her for his fish-heavy menu.
-So now Dave has a tough choice- both Sabrina and Suzanne were maddingly inconsistent but Sabrina was less of a pain to deal with so I’d pick her. Suzanne says she expects to be picked last, which of course means she won’t be. Dave then shockingly picks her over Sabrina. WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? You had such a strong team and now you may have blown your shot. Ariel gets along with everyone but I don’t know how well Robert and Suzanne will mesh. I forgot Suzanne won a challenge with Dave but if I remember correctly he said she would have been his last choice for a partner.
She is a decent chef but not that much better than Sabrina and Sabrina comes with fewer communication issues.
-Interesting point implied by the announcer that Kevin’s team may have difficulties picking up his complicated menu. Dave’s menu is “idiot proof”, so to speak, which should help him. Robert however, wants to eat his competitor’s menu, which includes carmelized scallops, coffee cured beef, and creme brulee trio. I don’t know what any of that means but it looks delicious. Dave’s classic menu features mushroom risotto, a venison entree (hey it worked in the challenge), and a mousse dessert that looks quite tasty.
-Chef thinks Kevin’s food is beautiful but perhaps too complicated and notes that Dave’s is simple and thus must be perfect. I think Dave has the advantage with the simple approach but also has the disadvantage of working with Suzanne so it kind of evens out.
-By the way, what happened to the part where the contestants get to design the restaurant themselves? I guess Chef figured the competition should be more about cooking than decorating, which I can’t say I disagree with.
-Right before the service starts Chef calls the two finalists over and gives them head chef jackets- has he ever done that before? That’s pretty cool though. Those jackets are quite nice.
-Top Chefs from Canada are in attendance, including one from Araxi- aka the winner’s future boss. No pressure there.
-Good to see Dave has calmed down running the pass since the last episode. No more whipping towels onto the table.
-Amanda seems to be the type who does well with positive reinforcement rather than with people yelling at her. I think she got picked by the wrong team then…
-Amanda’s first scallops are undercooked, and Kevin is not pleased. He actually is calmer than I thought he would be.
-Robert’s first risotto meets Dave’s standards, and the one-armed bandit takes the early lead.
-I really think Kevin’s complex menu is going to be his fatal flaw. He overestimated the skills of his minions and will probably be stuck correcting them all night instead of sending out food.
-I’m starting to like Amanda even more since it seems like she is going to be a main reason Kevin doesn’t win.
Now I’m glad Dave didn’t pick her.
-Amanda continues to overcook scallops in her kitchen. Obviously Chef can’t fault Kevin for Amanda’s poor performance but at the same time Kevin picked her so he has to get some responsibility for that.
-And as we go to break Amanda is setting the stove on fire….
-Chef finally tells Van to go on the scallops but it might be too late. Amanda gets out a good risotto and Van sends the scallops but he still has a ways to go to catch up.
-Dave’s first issue arises when Robert starts to run out of mushrooms. His acts words to Robert are “go easier on them” which Robert interprets as putting in only two or three mushrooms per risotto. Chef spots this before Dave does and Dave swears he would not have sent that risotto if he had seen it. It’s hard to tell who was in the wrong without knowing how many mushrooms were left to use. Then Robert “drops” the mushroom container just to get some revenge on Dave. Wow that’s a bit petty of Robert to do- isn’t he supposed to be HELPING his leader.
-Meanwhile back on Kevin’s side a risotto is sent back for being “crunchy”. This again was Amanda’s responsibility. Maybe she was more incompetent than I thought. Or maybe (more likely) Kevin’s menu is too complicated for her.
-Now Van is covering for Amanda on risotto too, and Kevin is panicking. His only hope is for Suzanne to completely falter for Dave. And now Kevin is reminding Van of Chef Ramsay- is that a good thing??
-Dave is up to entrees when Ariel overcooks a venison that Dave wisely spots. Chef is impressed with his quality control (especially since he failed at it in the last episode). Dave is firm but not too harsh with Ariel, who gets the meat right on the next try. It also helps that a) his menu is
simpler and b) Ariel is more competent than Amanda.
-Kevin has made a comeback and is now cooking for the Araxi Chef. I’m surprised he knows in advance he is cooking for his future boss. Meanwhile Amanda can’t get the temperature of the meat right, especially because Kevin keeps contradicting himself on the pass. Then he blames Amanda when she cooks the meat too much even though he had called out the wrong temperature before correcting himself.
And hey Amanda set the stove on fire again.
-Kevin finally decides to nicely help Amanda cook instead of yelling at her, but it’s probably a bit too late. The Araxi Chef is impressed with Kevin’s dish- but what about Dave’s.
-Meanwhile in the blue kitchen Ariel is struggling again with undercooked and overcooked food, causing Chef to yell at Dave a bit before Dave takes control and tells Robert to reheat a salmon. When there are only three small crises in the blue kitchen the whole night it must be a good night.
-I don’t get why the teams are in such a race to finish first- it’s not like the first team to finish wins or anything. In any even Dave finishes first but it is very close- not that it matters in the least.
-Since it seems obvious at this point that Dave is going to win (thank goodness), let’s look at the main mistakes Kevin made to cost himself the title (which I think Dave would have won anyway unless Dave had really blown it):
1) Picking Amanda I don’t think was that bad of an idea, I just think he a) gave her too much to do, b) didn’t get her help from Van fast enough, and c) didn’t realize until it was too late that she works best when being praised, not being yelled at. When she was yelled at early on she seemed to lose all momentum and just completely fell apart.
2)As mentioned a few times, his real fatal flaw was the complicated menu. He could probably cook the food really well but his teammates were not that strong, so he should have stuck to a clearer, idiot-proof menu like Dave did.
3)Losing his cool- Dave seemed to handle the pressure when his teammates made mistakes (like Ariel with the venison) better than Kevin did. Kevin just got frustrated and started yelling instead of calmly solving the problem. Thus his brash personality that makes him such a strong leader may have hurt him in the end.
-But of course we have to have the official opening door ceremony to determine the winner.
-Why does Dave think he lost when he clearly outperformed Kevin??? He needs some more confidence in himself.
-Chef gives the two finalists a talk before he announces the winner, saying this has been the closest final ever based on the comment cards. But based on performance in the service it was not that close. He says they are both winners, blah blah, get to the winner already.
-And here we go- the winner is…. Dave!!!! Yeah that was kind of anticlimactic based on the services they both had. Plus they had been playing the sympathy card with him the whole season with his injury to make the viewers root for him more. Aw he’s crying…..
-Kevin is taking his loss in stride, so good for him.
-What happened to Dave’s beanie? He’s switched to a backwards cap for his winning moment.
-Hey is that Rock from Season 3 spraying champagne around the room??
-And we end the season with- Van arm wrestling Chef Ramsay? Awesome. And Van won!! And kids spraying water on JP, Robert breaking things, Dave dancing (BEFORE he won), Chef saying “he’s nobody’s b****) and Dave’s photo on the wall of fame next to Danny. So Danny and Dave win in consecutive years- hopefully next year the winner won’t be named Dana or Darrell.
So that’s it for this season. Were you happy with the results? Was it that obvious to you that Dave was going to win? What did you think of this season as a whole. Post your comments below.
Watch Part 1 of the two-part season finale here courtesy of hulu.com:
And watch Part 2 here also courtesy of hulu.com: