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Hell’s Kitchen – finally, a sacking

Claudia greets us with the news that there has finally been a sacking in Hell’s Kitchen. “It was cold, it was bloody, and it took longer than expected, just like the meals”. I choose to take this as a tip that it was Jody and that Marco had to get over the idea that he was participating in some sort of strange self-annihilation before he was able to boot his “young self”. Of course, I could be wrong, in which case I will most assuredly be devastated.

Of course, in the confusing Hell’s Kitchen universe, first we have to go back to “yesterday” before we can catch up on the sacking action. Let’s go back in time, after the jump…

Jody shuffles into the kitchen to expressions of surprise from Linda and Bruce. He interviews that he was given the chance to “take the easy way out” but he decided to stay. I’m sure everyone is grateful for his sacrifice. Ade comments that Jody is up on time this morning, so perhaps he has turned over a new leaf.

Anthea reads the Marco Mail, which tells the celebs to prepare for a master class with a “very good friend” of Marco’s. The women immediately go into a lather, wondering whether they’ll be working with Jean Christophe Novelli. Just in case, they spend time in front of the mirror before entering the kitchen… where they meet JCN himself. The women are enraptured, describing him as “sexy”, “charming”, “attractive”, and the men look somewhat bemused. The men might have a better chance with the challenge, though, since the women weren’t actually paying much attention to what JCN was doing (which was making a swan out of meringue and berries). He leaves them with 30 minutes to create something of their own.

“What am I going to make?” wonders Ade, “cos I can’t make a fucking swan.” Marco and JCN spy on the celebs from Marco’s office and engage in some more Muppetish banter. JCN asks and answers: “Do you know who you remind me of? Monsieur Arafat!”. Linda appears on Marco’s monitor. “Linda’s nice… she’s got a lot of spring in her step.” “How old is she?” asks JCN. Marco’s response (“Thirty.”) prompts the best double take I’ve seen on telly this year. JCN tries to clarify, and Marco says “How old did you think she was?”. Oh, so cruel. JCN thinks aloud about Linda’s career, trying to judge. “You’re talking about 70s, 80s, non?” Marco wilfully misinterprets this: “You think she’s 80!”

There’s a lot of giggling in the kitchen as Ade describes one of the swans as “looking like it’s crapped itself” and then Jody pours hot fruit over his icecream and realises, too late, that this is a bonkers move. He chucks it out and starts again. Time’s up.

Bruce has dripped a red fruit syrup over his poor swan and it looks as though Leda’s brothers might have caught up with it and taken the law into their own hands. Anthea channels Jennifer Grey meeting Charlie Sheen in Ferris Bueller’s Day off, giggling hysterically as she explains her swan’s broken neck to JCN. Danielle’s is the one that “looks like it shit itself” and Jody blags on about his being influenced by “all the women in my life”. I can’t imagine they’d be flattered. But Marco might be.

Marco makes his choices by knocking the heads off all the losing contenders, leaving only Danielle’s and Jody’s intact. I’m sure it was the soppy “women in my life” reference that got Jody through.

Claudia introduces a segment where Marco gives his opinion of the celebs

  • Bruce: solid, consistent but possibly too quiet. Safe pair of hands. (Unless, of course, he’s accepted money to be otherwise…)
  • Ade: has a passion for food, tries very hard, absorbs information well.
  • Jody: has a lot of energy, drive. Reminds him of a less focussed, less disciplined younger self.
  • Niomi: great energy, tries very hard, very caring about what she does. I like her very much but she’s limited.
  • Linda: great. Loves food, tries hard, organised “in a special way”.
  • Danielle: impresses Marco. She runs that section very well. Tougher than people think.
  • Grant: consistent. Hasn’t got any better, but he’s a lot more tired.
  • Anthea: very much like Grant. Always the same, “it’s uncanny”, but has adapted better than Grant. Gets on with the team better than Grant.

Back to Claudia, who reminds us that Jody’s on his last warning and needs to make nice. And work hard. And stop swearing at people. Can he do it? “He’s been really trying this morning with us all,” says Danielle. I hope that passes – I want him OUT. Marco wants to believe in Jody, but he trusts Danielle and she points out that Tim’s not impressed by him.

Marco’s decided that he won’t put any celebs on the floor tonight, since he’ll be sacking someone. He assigns stations: Ade – fish, Anthea – fennel, Linda – crab, Grant – meat, Danielle – pass, Niomi – between Grant and Ade, Jody – crab with Linda, Bruce – potatoes. There’s an element of Tom Cruise’s Lestat when he says: “One big… happy… family.”

The celebs try to fathom Marco’s thinking, and struggle. “Anyone left loitering tonight will be sacked,” he says.

Service starts with a bang. Or, at least, the crashing of dishes, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Sesame Street. “Nick’s gone down, Nick’s gone down,” chants Marco, rather unsympathetically. This could be the basis for his follow-up children’s book, which would be boycotted by parents horrified by the double-entendre.

Poor Nick. Having mopped up his mess and grovelled to Marco to get the meals redone, he now has to battle with a poncy singer’s girlfriend who doesn’t want pink veal. The singer, who I’ve never heard of, storms up to the pass and is really inarticulate. Marco promises him a well-done veal and another tartare, later claiming that it’s because he was wearing a white tie and was thus paying respect to “the great white”.

Marco keeps reminding the celebs that one will be sacked, then seems to find it strange that they are making unforced errors on the back of those nerves. Grant interviews that it would be unfair if anyone other than Jody was to go. Jody interviews that he “just wants to make it to the final four”, which seems incredibly dense, when he is struggling to get to final seven, but then I remember that the public decides once it’s final four. I’m hoping he just has an unreasonably high opinion of himself, and not that he has a fan base.

“Where’s the fennel? Where’s the fennel? Where’s the fennel? Where’s the fennel?”

Anthea thinks she’s in Marco’s firing line. Linda believes that Marco knows best, but hopefully she won’t have to ponder that from home.

Diner’s verdict
Starters: 7/10
Mains: “Turbot – a nice piece of fish but it didn’t blow me away.” Ade looks momentarily surprised, then responds “it was dead.” Even Nick laughs. 7/10
Service: 0/10 Poor Nick.

Marco’s favourite quote of all time is from Atila the Hun. Is anyone surprised? “Success is not enough. Everybody else must fail”. He thinks knowing this will help them prepare for the sacking table. “Has anybody been sacked before?” “I was sacked from a crisp factory,” says Ade. Apparently he peeled away most of the potato. Grant cops to having been “forced to resign” but I don’t really want to think about his “big package”. Neither Jody nor Linda have been sacked before, or so they say, so Marco contemplates being the first to offer one of them that character-building experience. (Hint to Marco: Linda already has character.)

Sacking table
Marco tells the assembled celebs that he hasn’t made his decision yet. I am readying myself to fling something at the telly if he dodges out of his responsibility tonight.

He starts asking the celebs why they should stay. Bruce pretty much echoes Marco’s opinion of him in the earlier segment: “I do a lot of work”. Niomi is a bit glib with her “I’m an asset to the team and an asset to the kitchen” and refuses to elaborate when asked. Anthea wants more time to achieve her goals. Grant is boring and quotes his parents, but it strikes a chord with Marco. Ade’s “having a ball” and, seriously, Marco would be bonkers to get rid of him – the show would just drop. Danielle points to her growth and what she’s learned. Marco gives Linda a leading question, which proves that he has no intention of losing her. Now. Jody. He’s incapable of answering the question.

Marco asks the others if they think Jody redeemed himself. Anthea nails it by saying that he did improve, but that it’s just one day. Somebody like Jody could manage a day, but two? Three? A week? Unlikely. Even during the previous question he was squirming around as though evil-Jody was running out of patience. Ade accepts Jody’s previous apology, but says that the behaviour was a sackable offence.

Marco gets all Dr Phil analysing Jody as “a man who’s been hurt” and Jody cracks up and does a runner. Not metaphorically; he actually leaves through the back door and jumps over the fence. Apparently “an hour later” he returned. The others are in the kitchen, although I was disappointed that they weren’t still around the table in shock at his departure. Niomi’s saying that “too much emphasis” is on Jody right now, and she’s right.

The “sacking table” is reconvened. Marco thanks Jody for coming back, which is ridiculous. Marco starts by saying that the “Jody issue” is over and they will talk about the kitchen. Niomi wants to have her say – basically says what she was saying before – and puts herself on the line. Anthea backs her up. Marco listens, and does the “I’m not ruled by emotion” bit, which they are probably all interpret as meaning “I’m keeping Jody”. I hold out a flicker of hope that this means that he’ll sack Jody, since that would be contrary to his sentimental desire.

Grant stays. Linda stays. Bruce stays. Ade stays. Niomi stays. Danielle stays. Niomi, standing with Grant, says “It can’t be!”. “It is, he’s going to kick Anthea out,” says Grant.

Marco has a wonderful sense of drama, bringing it down to Anthea and Jody. Given that he’s allowed Grant to stay in the back of the kitchen waiting for his wife, I’m now almost hoping that Anthea goes, prompting Grant to leap over the pass and tackle Jody.

Marco says he has good reason to sack both of them. The reason to sack Anthea is the old chips issue, which I’d completely forgotten about. He bangs on about respect and fairness and is directing it all at Anthea. “Anthea…” poor thing is shaking during this ridiculous pause “you are cooking in Hell’s Kitchen tomorrow night”.

Marco gives Jody an enormous hug. He leaves.

And doesn’t pitch up for his “exit interview” with Claudia the following night… but then does. Yawn.