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Hell’s Kitchen UK – should I stay or should I go?

Ok, so tonight we are going to say goodbye to one of our celebrities. Who will Marco choose? On what basis will he make the decision?

Claudia strolls across the restaurant in a badly hemmed nightdress, telling us that it has been “mad” in the kitchen today. That bodes well. The kitchen has, apparently, been “split down the middle. On one side Bruce, Grant, Anthea, Danielle, Niomi, Adrian and Linda. On the other side, Jody”. Before we rush headlong into the seething morass of anger behind the scenes, we are treated to a clip package of Marco’s sayings:

  • Cooking is a philosophy, not a recipe… unless it’s pastry
  • Self control is true power
  • Mother nature is, without doubt, the true artist
  • A clear conscience is true strength
  • Never allow the obvious to blind you
  • Your friends and family is true wealth

This segment is beautifully edited, with some gorgeously confused reactions from our celebrities interspersed into the montage. Any one of them could stand in for the master of “wildly perplexed stares”, Michel Roux Jr, in an episode of Masterchef – The Professionals. We now get some insight into how the celebrities react to Marco’s famous stares. Anthea finds them almost hypnotising, Linda can’t read them at all and Danielle finds him intimidating. Grant posits that he occupies a space very close to the centre of that “fine line that separates genius from madman”. Bruce likens Marco’s aesthetic sensibility to Van Gogh, which seems to provide a fresh perspective on Bruce… until he finishes the thought with “and Van Gogh’s the one that chopped his own ear off”. So, more about the madness than the art.

Out in the dining room, Claudia is seeking some tips on Marco-wrangling from Jean-Christophe Novelli. He laughs a tad nervously before advising that acknowledging the “privilege” of working for Marco would be a sensible starting position. Forelock tugging optional, but recommended. He goes on a bit, which is awkward, as Claudia loses the ability to tune into his accent and has to cut him off so we can go back to the good bits: Marco. Today’s challenge, she tells us, was for the celebs to cook something that “reflected Marco’s true personality… I’m guessing something nutty, with just a hint of cheese”. Zing!

What will our celebrities come up with?  Let’s find out, after the jump…

As Danielle reads the Marco Mail, the message ends “Marco on a plate”, which… ok! They will have 30 minutes to do this. I hope they’ve been paying attention. If they have, they’ll know not to be blinded by the obvious and they’ll be able to wield that true power of self control. In an interview, Marco further explains the task and, thankfully, resorts to the third person: “…what I asked them was one very simple question. Who is Marco? Who is he? I know who Marco is.”  How reassuring.

Ade is filleting a mackerel, to reflect the “maverick… hunting… strong… tasting… snack” that is Marco. Anthea goes for fillet steak “because he’s a meaty piece of work” while Jody is working on the theory that “Marco’s Italian, so he’s gotta have something Italian in him, right?”. He seems to have thought this through: doing pasta will also allow him to redeem himself from the cock-up he made of the Mario Batali challenge. As he potters around with his dough, Ade notices a lump of meat burning on the stove, but he sensibly declines to intervene, advising Danielle not to “play with his food”. “Poor Jody, he works so hard… for little effect.”

Time’s up and Marco is waiting. We get a glimpse of some of the dishes. Jody’s looks truly awful – a creamy mess of pasta with some grey lumps of meat thrown on top; somebody’s done scrambled eggs with toast and chunky chips, which I think Marco could like; there are two fried eggs, a piece of toast and an unidentifiable brown lump swimming with oil on another plate (perhaps it’s a cubist portrait of some kind); another plate has more chunky chips, a fan of carrots and one of asparagus and olives and tomatoes strewn over what could be a steak or a mushroom; there’s another egg on toast with no other visible accompaniments.

“Somebody asked last night ‘what do I have to do to get sacked?’. The answer is ‘not much'”. He smiles, beatifically, before changing tempo and making for Danielle’s dish. “Oh, that looks nice, doesn’t it?”. Danielle explains that it’s a manly steak and soft mash for his “softer” side. Literal girl. Ade’s is up next, and it’s the egg on toast. He’s calling it “hunter’s elevenses” and it’s actually fried bread, a kipper and the egg. I think he also adds “a bit of zhoozh”. Marco’s a “big fan of kippers… who’ll get the fishy on the little dishy when the chef comes in” he riffs on When The Boat Comes In, to the bemusement of Danielle. Jody’s pasta causes Marco to frown and he calls it posh surf’n’turf and gives Marco the little spiel about not wanting to be defeated by the pasta. Unfortunately, Marco doesn’t slam a cleaver into the little turd and scream “this is about ME not YOU“; surprisingly, he seems to buy the explanation. Jody, therefore, reverts to cocky mode.

Who wins (insofar as there are any winners here)? Danielle’s was the best presented, but Ade’s is the dish Marco liked the most. Ade looks suitably chuffed, flushes a becoming red and tells Linda that he feels “so childishly pleased”. Bless. In his later interview, this becomes “boyishly delighted, like a five year old given a gold star”. Double bless.

The celebs are in the kitchen, trying to figure out what stations they are responsible for. Ade explains the kitchen hierarchy to us: the pass, then meat, fish, potatoes, veg, crab. Jody’s cracking the shits already because he thinks he’s going to be on potatoes. Marco strides in and announces that he’s going to have to sack somebody tonight. We KNOW! Bruce and Niomi are front-of-house, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Ade’s back on fish, Grant’s on meat, Anthea (“the fennel queen”) is back on fennel and asparagus, Danielle’s back with Marco, Jody’s back on potatoes, which leaves Linda on crab. Jody ‘s sulking like a spoilt toddler.

Service starts. Jody’s mooning at his family from the pass and Danielle is having to pick up his slack. Bruce and Andrea both interview that Jody was skiving off. Claudia strides back across the restaurant and I notice that her badly hemmed nightdress is, actually, a romper. A romper! An order gets messed up and Jody tries to rectify it. He does this self-serving interview about being true to Marco’s philosophy and it’s all about the food blah-blah-blah, but cracks the shits when Grant takes over managing the order. Ade tells Grant that they shouldn’t be going against Marco’s orders, but Grant assures him that Marco okayed it with Jody. You can see realisation starting to dawn, though, and he asks Jody again if Marco was okay with the order. Jody smugly acknowledges that he lied and I’m surprised nobody smacks him in the gob. Ade does start a mantra of “fucking wanker” but Jody’s incapable of behaving like a grown up and continues to strut around the kitchen, gloating. It all becomes a bit tedious – Jody’s not even an interesting “villain”, he’s just a prat. When he starts feeling it in the kitchen, he goes out to his family and gets them smooching all over him, whilst telling them about his kitchen heroics.

It’s the end of service and Jody’s wandering about with the sous chefs, watching the others clear up. Grant asks him to help and Jody eventually joins in, but mutters abuse as he hauls out the rubbish. Another self-serving interview “I’m too nice. Maybe it’s a fact that I’m too keen, too eager…” The “too much of a twat” part of the sentence is left out. He walks past Grant and says “cock”. He calls Anthea a silly cow and a bitch. What a gobshite.

Marco calls Jody into the office for a chat. There’s a lot of justification bollocks pouring out of Jody, but Marco tells him that “its not what you do, it’s how you do it” and I’m surprised that nobody has taught him that lesson before. Unfortunately Marco’s doing his “I was like you” empathy and I really don’t think Jody has learned anything from this episode.

Jody returns to the kitchen and expects that he has the right to command the team’s attention because he wants to make his apology. Marco’s created a monster. Jody blusters through so many words that it comes down to Ade having to remind him that he didn’t “twist things around a bit”, but that he lied and then crowed about it. This kind of apology is all about the apologiser so it’s good to see Ade withhold forgiveness until he has a chance to consider it. Bruce follows Ade’s lead and adds the comment that Jody’s an “actor”, which is true (to a point, I guess). He’s certainly making sure he’s the centre of all drama. Then we get the Wayne Carey “if you were let down” apology to Linda. Niomi brings it back to Jody and she’s very thoughtful and sweet. God I hope he goes.

Our celebrities wait around a table for the arrival of Marco. Who will go? (pleaseletitbeJodypleaseletitbeJody) Marco recaps the events of the night, rather unnecessarily. Marco’s assessment is the kind of thing that just enables the Jodys of the world to continue being twats. Jody wasn’t “slicing himself open and showing his vulnerability”, he was being a twat and will continue to be one, but now has the vocabulary of “vulnerability” to lean on.

Marco thinks he’d like to give Jody another 24 hours. What do the others think? Bruce has reservations. Ade doesn’t think Jody should be saved at the expense of another. Ah, but here’s the twist. If they save mini-Marco, he’ll save them all. Anthea agrees that he should have a second chance, so Grant agrees (reluctantly). Niomi, Linda and Danielle all believe in second chances.

So, does Jody get to stay? Well, it’s up to him.

I’m sure it will surprise nobody to learn that he takes a l o n g time to agree that he wants to stay.