I’m starting to have trouble with Hell’s Kitchen. Where I once relished chef Ramsay’s vitriolic diatribes against the incompetent contestants I now just endure these moments. It’s certainly possible that the complete ineptitude of this season’s cast has something to do with that. I continuously look for a frontrunner, someone whom I can connect and root for, and come up short week after week. The best I have to hope for is Kevin, who I honestly think has gotten some favorable editing and commentary from the voiceover guy. Full from a sauté of fingerling potato, zucchini, grape tomato, snap peas, shallot, garlic and chicken in brown butter I sat down tonight to endure yet another hour of the once great Hell’s Kitchen.

This week starts with Ramsay pulling Amanda aside to tell her once again that she looks defeated, and then requests her to turn it around. Following that mini-drama is your weekly dose of childish antics as Robert proclaims the women “done” after another loss, which means the women will likely win tonight, and Tennille continuing to try and convince anyone that she’s a good cook. Thankfully we get right to the challenge event.

The teams are tasked with making a 3-course meal (appetizer, entrée, and desert) with a cumulative 700 calories. I’m not behind a calorie counting menu per se, but there is a lot of skill involved in making such a dish look and taste fantastic. A basic understanding of flavor and combinations goes a long way in putting together a healthy meal. Robert has the best line of the night saying that he takes “700 calorie bites.” We’d already assumed so, Robert.

Nutritionists are brought in to weigh ingredients and ensure everything comes in under 700 cals. Luckily for the red team Sabrina works with calorie counts in her daily job, thus allowing her to formulate a quick menu for the gals to execute. Meanwhile the blue team gets done with two course ideas and clock in at over a thousand calories. Their answer? Cut food out. Do these people have Masters Degrees in extreme laziness? In what small part of anyone’s brain on the red team did removing food from the plate equate to a winning idea? Both teams are able to finish their entire menu, and now it’s time to determine the winner based on taste.

The guys clock in at 597 cals and the girls at 694. Ramsey likes the appetizers from both teams, and I agree that they do look pretty decent. Then the ladies come up with their entrée, a ricotta stuffed pork chop, which led to chef Ramsey commenting on the brilliance of portion control. This just makes the unveiling of the men’s limp entrée all the more sad. It’s a thin cut of pork served with bland veggies fit for a child. Put it in one of those divided platters and I would have sworn the men tried serving a TV dinner. The girls’ fruit bowl with a lemon ricotta cream was vibrant and refreshing. It was also really tasty looking. The men served a penis. No, that’s not fair…the men served a sad, flaccid, penis. The women won the challenge and spent the day on the beach with Olympic gold medal winning volleyball star Annett Davis. The guys had to prep both kitchens for service that night.

During prep for the day Sous Chef Scott calls the boys outside where they find a ridiculous six passenger bike. The guys follow Scott as they head to the store to pick up items for service that night. Part of the torture is a ride up a steep hill that has all of the guys struggling. And now I stop and think that while Robert doesn’t deserve special treatment for letting himself be so overweight, there is the factor that his health forced him off the show last season. Was it really necessary to do this to the guy? Of course he feels dizzy and weird upon returning to the kitchen and is rushed to the ER. Chef Ramsey informs everyone that Robert won’t be part of the service, and then the doors open.

Blue Team’s Service: Is a complete disaster. Jim decides to pour pepper into the risotto, which disgusts Ramsey. He then doesn’t season the replacement. He then can’t make risotto. He then decides to make a scrapbook of his time over last summer in Spokane, Washington. Or at least he should have done something other than try to cook food, because well after an hour into service Sous Chef Scott jumps in and makes the damn risotto. To top it off Andy still can’t take orders when they’re called to him. Dave starts cooking the wrong garnishes for the entrees (yup, entrees did sort of start going out tonight), which leads Kevin to do one of his trademark exasperated yelling fits. To show he’s consistent Andy still can’t get the orders right, and keeps messing up the halibut.

Red Team’s Service: Maybe you thought I split this portion up this week to show how superior one team was over the other? Not a chance. Ariel starts by serving mushy scallops. I’m done with the risotto mishaps, now I’m flabbergasted at the inability to sear a scallop. You take a scallop, season it, and put it in a hot pan with oil. Cook until a nice crust forms, then flip it and either finish in the oven for a few minutes or cover the pan. Not hard at all. Then Tennille makes enough spinach for all of the orders called in, which prompts Ramsey to call her a cow and to cook the food to order. To make up for her mistake Tennille decides to make enough mashed potatoes to serve my nephew. Finally this episode Ramsey is truly pissed and throws her out of the kitchen. Then the two of them get into a heated argument as Ramsey tells her to shut up and listen. Either she doesn’t care or she does, prove it by walking or taking control of the station. At least Tennille has the respect and temerity to go back and try, which can’t be said for a lot of the contestants that come on Hell’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile the champion of the challenge, Sabrina, is having her own problems. First a chicken goes inexplicably missing. Then she sends out raw pork. In her haste to redo the chicken Sabrina butchers the chicken.

Ramsay shuts down the kitchen and declares both teams the loser. One person from each team is to be nominated for elimination. Sabrina says she did horrible, but she also didn’t walk off the line and leave her teammates alone. Tennille says that Ramsay kicked her out, and when given the choice to come back and help she did. It’s definitely not Tennille’s night to be up for elimination. With the guys it’s a clear choice between Jim and Andy, but Jim plants the idea of Robert missing a service being a bigger issue. Wow, there is no way they’d have the balls to pull a stunt like that.

Sabrina is nominated for the women, and when Van is asked who the men nominated he enquires where Robert is. Ramsay says that it’s not fair to judge someone based on performance if they were not there, and that if Robert doesn’t make the next service he will indeed be gone. So Van nominates Andy. The pleading proceeds as usual, and then Ramsay says that the person leaving tonight has no passion to continue. He then points to Jim and tells him to take the jacket off. Sometimes I wonder what the point of the nominations are when many times Ramsay eliminates the one person who he feels was the weakest, even if they weren’t nominated.

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