Hell’s Kitchen UK – not the final I was expecting*
*Because the final episode is next week.
There are only two celebs left in the kitchen and the pressure is on. How will they manage to serve diners and maintain calm in the face of Marco’s clam mantra? Hopefully, they won’t; meltdowns are far more entertaining than ruthless efficiency (except when it comes to public transport, Connex).
Claudia reminds us that Danielle has recently departed and that our two finalists are Ade and Linda. “A journey without knowledge is just a mystery tour” according to Marco. Claudia shares this with us as an awkward segue to a recap of last episode’s eviction (the “unbearable agony” of waiting to hear who was out was an improvement over listening to Marco’s proverbs is how that link was made. Clumsy, yes). In this version of the announcement we follow first-to-be-safe Linda as she heads back into the kitchen sobbing and getting a warm hug from Marco. “I don’t want them to go!” she weeps, clearly not understanding that they won’t BOTH be going. “The British were generous,” she interviews, and adds “How sweet England is!”. The cameras are still on Linda as Claudia announces that Ade will be joining her in the final. “Oh, no!” she screams. But then claps, so it’s all okay.
Ade is very flattered and happy. Also somewhat amused that he and Linda are the finalists in a cooking competition. “Who would have thought that would happen, twenty five years ago?”.
We have gone back in time, so Danielle is still on deck as they read through the challenge for the day. It’s a taste test. Claudia explains that Marco has a very sensitive palate, and that the celebs will have to match it. “Imagine having Marco’s tongue in your mouth,” she says. “How d’you think I got this job?” I’ve really warmed to old Claudia.
Ade goes first at tasting the sauce and starts trying to identify the ingredients. Marco goes through the ingredients for Nick, as they both watch on the CCTV. Ade thinks he’s identified ketchup. “That’s ketchup! Fuck me! That’s ketchup! Bloody hell!”. He makes his version from olive oil, ketchup, parsley and shallots. He’s missed half a dozen ingredients. Marco tastes and Ade tries to interpret what the wink means. Danielle picks the shallots, oil, vinegar and tomato – and when she realises that ketchup is an ingredient she blobs half a bottle into it. Marco tastes, and smiles. Linda notes that she doesn’t even know what some of Marco’s ingredients are. “You’ve confused her with your love of bottles,” says Nick. They both giggle as Linda dashes around the kitchen grabbing as many ingredients as she can. Marco tastes, and clears his throat ambiguously.
Scoring. For every correct ingredient, they score a point. The catch – for Linda, who seemed to go a bit bananas with her choices – is that they also lose a point for incorrect ingredients. Ade ends up with two points. Danielle has three points. Linda got the most ingredients right, but also the most wrong, so joins Ade on two points. At this stage, Danielle should have seen that the writing on the wall – Niomi won the challenge before her booting, too.
Letters from home time. Linda reads Gary’s letter to Danielle and starts crying straight away. So does Danielle. Ade starts crying before Danielle even starts reading his letter from Jennifer. As Danielle reads, he lies back with his face covered. Ade reads Linda’s letter from her sister. Linda’s crying even as she remembers it in the interview. By the end of this segment, everyone is drowning in tears, but laughing, too and it’s much nicer than the Survivor letters segments.
Claudia’s in the dining room with some people I don’t recognise, except that one of them is a “lady actor”, so she’s going for Linda. “This is going to link in lovely” says Claudia, for the American viewers, presumably.
Linda clip package. She reminisces about her early experiences. Actually, it’s not so much a Linda montage as a “crab, crab, crab” montage. This is not a criticism – Hell’s Kitchen is always better when Marco is a strong presence. We also get to revisit Linda learning to say “wanker” and “tosser”. For some reason, we also get – as a highlight – Bruce farting.
The next challenge for our remaining three contestants is to revisit sandwich making. Ade is bringing everything he’s learnt to his beef sandwich. “Feeling pretty bloody confident,” he says. Linda’s making a kidney sandwich (“She’s American,” is Ade’s explanation for this odd idea) and Danielle’s doing egg mayonnaise.
They present their sandwiches. “Doesn’t come much better, does it?” says Marco, of Ade’s sandwich. Danielle has decorated her sandwich with cress. “How good’s that?” asks Marco, rhetorically as it turns out. “You should be proud of yourself,” he adds, as Danielle’s about to apologise for her effort. “That’s a proper sandwich.” He’s pleased that Danielle characterises him as “blokey” and even adds a little extra Yorkshire when he says “straightforward”. Marco looks astounded when Linda reveals her kidney sandwich. Marco suggests that she could have fried the bread and served the kidney on top. He pronounces Ade and Danielle joint winners.
“Three weeks with a Michelin starred chef and Danielle can nearly make an egg mayonnaise sandwich” is Claudia’s assessment.
In tonight’s service, Marco tells his chefs that he will do the first nine tables and then will disappear, leaving each celeb in charge for a portion of service. “Nick! Let them in!” signals the beginning of the battle. We see the usual parade of famous-in-Britain diners.
Ade and Marco watch Nick talking to himself as he organises the first orders.
“Take them back, start again. Take them back, start again. Take them back, start again.” “Clams, clams, clams, clams.” Ade interviews that he thinks Marco is making fun for himself because he’s bored.
It’s time for an Ade montage. He says that he thought, at first, that the intimidating part of Marco must just be an act, but that he soon realised that Marco is genuinely scary. “I’m only his fish bitch. He’s the fish master.” The highlight of Ade’s time in the kitchen has been running the pass. He talks about bonding with the others, but says that he values the friendships with Bruce and Linda most of all. He doesn’t mention Jody at all.
Claudia sets us up for tonight’s drama: “To say that service didn’t go well is like saying the people on the Titanic had their holiday spoilt”. Oh, good. As Marco leaves the kitchen , the three chefs get together to plan how to run the night. First, Danielle and Ade have to teach Linda how to run the pass, since she’s only been doing crab for three weeks. Her first table seems to go well. Each celeb has been allocated tables, but since the tickets are coming in at once, the celebs are running the pass together – and sometimes not at all. As Ade points out – there’s no General.
Ade laments the fact that halfway through, they were called out to face the sacking and the dishes that were underway just went out the window (not literally, of course). Marco steps in and tries to get the kitchen back on track. “We were running round like headless chickens, burning cockles and mushrooms” says Ade, which is a surreal image. “Danielle, the lucky bitch” is how Ade welcomes the end of service.
We’re back in the present and the kitchen has been divided into two. Ade is running half and Linda is in charge of the other half. The soundtrack is an 80s disco version of Beethoven’s 5th and Nick is reminiscing about how daunting it’s been dealing with so many celebrity diners. Barry McGuigan, Phil Tufnell… the star power is out of control. At least we see Nick falling over again (although we also have to suffer seeing Chris deBurgh, too).
Service is winding down and our celeb diners are rhapsodising over the celeb chefs. From what we see, opinion is divided, although those who support Linda seem to do so with a great deal of passion. Marco calls service “…the biggest mess I’ve ever seen in a kitchen in 31 years. I was about to ask Nicholas for a snorkel”. Ade is disappointed that they didn’t meet the standard they’d set for themselves. Marco calls on Nick to give the diners’ verdicts. Starters get 8/10 and mains are 7/10. I’m not really sure what that proves. Marco congratulates our celebs for reaching the final and says that they would have been the two he’d have chosen.
Ade and Linda retire to share a glass of champagne. Linda wants to “ask Jennifer if they can come to Seattle, because I’m going to have Ade withdrawal”. As will I, but not – it seems – until next week when we find out who’s cuisine reigns supreme.