Hell in the kitchen

  • Living
  • Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014

The Spudniks cook up their own character teams for a challenge in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsay.

AMERICAN reality cooking competition Hell’s Kitchen (starring British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay), based on the British series of the same name, is truly like no other cooking show we’ve watched on TV. Rather than being a gastronomic adventure, this series is more a horrific peek at what could go on in the kitchens of the restaurants you visit – where the chefs don’t really know what they are doing and the head chef screams, yells and disrespectfully throws food in the bin that he deems isn’t suitably prepared.

Frankly, you either love it (the show is in its 10th season so obviously many viewers like it) or you hate it (celebrated British baker Mary Berry has said that she “hates” Gordon Ramsay’s shows for being violent and cruel).

We think we could challenge Ramsay by selecting a team of TV characters who could test his mettle and show him who’s the boss.

Indra says:

Most cooking shows on TV make me feel happy. Hell’s Kitchen makes me angry. First of all, I think Ramsay is a big bully. I’m not averse to exerting discipline in the kitchen – after all, hygiene in food preparation is no laughing matter and preparing high quality food for paying customers is absolutely necessary. But, so is treating people with respect.

Ramsay is just vulgar, spewing more obscenities in one minute that I’m accustomed to hearing in a week (and that’s saying a lot, given the industry I’m in!). Ramsay treats his teams of chefs like incompetent imbeciles – granted, most of them seem to be imbeciles (we seriously wonder how can they be chefs when some of them can’t even devein a shrimp or dress a salad) but … hey, he picked them so he kinda asked for the incompetence he gets.

My conclusion is that the show isn’t really about the cooking – it’s about drama. And it’s all manufactured. The chefs are characters who play into the drama and Ramsay (despite his 16 Michelin stars) comes across as a total whack job. Well, I have a team who can not only cook, but have fabulous knife skills and can stand up to Ramsay’s bullying without batting an eyelid. In fact, I hope that one day, this show down will happen.

Here is my team:

Executive Chef: Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) from TV series Hannibal.

Have you seen the man cook? Sure, he’s cooking somebody’s innards (which is gross, gross, gross) but the skill in which he preps and cooks his meal and presents them to his guests is admirable. And he’s diabolical. There is no doubt in my mind he can whip Ramsay into submission. Oh yes! Score.

Sous Chef: Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) from the Bates Motel.

As a single (murderous) mother, Norma has learnt to survive in a sometimes brutal world. Hell’s Kitchen will not be a problem at all. And though she’s often left waiting impatiently at the dinner table for son Norman (Freddie Highmore) or his older step-brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) to come home, I’m sure she’s a better cook than the contestants on this show.

Pastry Chef: Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayar) from The Big Bang Theory.

He may suffer from “selective mutism” when faced with the fairer sex but give him a whisk, wooden spoon and an apron and this Indian astrophysicist simply comes alive. And, given that he’s had to deal with Sheldon for years, his tolerance level must be extremely high - putting up with Ramsay’s egocentric behaviour will just be a walk in the park.

Ann Marie says:

I love cooking shows – they make everything seem so easy, and I can really say that even my cooking has improved by leaps and bounds now that there is so much culinary information and education readily available on TV. But like Indra, I do feel Hell’s Kitchen is a bit of a set-up. I mean all that drama can only mean one thing – it was made for TV.

And hence this week we’d like to ham it up all the more by throwing in TV characters into the mix. Which team do you think will win? Well, for all you know Indra’s Executive Chef will probably have us all for dinner.

I had thought of including in my team the likes of Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show and Mrs Cunningham from Happy Days – remember she would spike the orange juice with valium? – but I keep getting yelled at for writing about shows from the last century. So I’m keeping it as current as I can (and still not getting things right! Agggh!)

Executive Chef: Marie Barone (Doris Roberts) from Everybody Loves Raymond.

Now everyone knows Marie can not only whip up a world class meal for an entire family or two, she can also do so while shattering the competition with her biting sarcasm. She’s great at bossing everyone around, and I bet she’ll even be able to put dear ol’ Ramsay in his proper place. And I kid you not, do you know that Marie’s recipes are online?

Go to everybodylovesray.com/games_and_goodies/recipes.php; Doris Roberts, IRL, even has a memoir called Are You Hungry, Dear?: Life, Laughs, and Lasagna. In Season 2, Episode 15, Marie’s Meatballs, Marie offers to teach her daughter-in-law Debra how to make her famous meatballs but sabotages the recipe to make Debra look bad. Now that’s the kind of competitive spirit we need. It is Hell’s Kitchen after all.

Sous Chef: Monica Geller’s (Courtney Cox) my girl.

She can chop, cut, julienne, grind, wash, knead, bake, saute and dance with a turkey on her head all at the same time. You need a sous chef with big dreams, who is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top and Monica’s obsessive-compulsive personality and competitive nature is second to none of her Friends.

Having worked at several restaurants as well as having her own catering company, she knows how to handle the heat in the kitchen.

And here’s a bit of trivia: Did you know that there’s a google play app featuring Monica’s recipes. Go to play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.recipe.monicas_recipes and learn to make cupcakes, turkey, salads and spaghettis, all

la Monica.

As for Ramsay’s F bombs, no prob for this New Yorker. She’s got a network of great friends, some of the best television has ever known, to take care of her if Ramsay ever takes it upon himself to crush her ego.

Pastry Chef: Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) may be a Desperate Housewive, but she always knew how get things run just right in the kitchen.

In fact, everything was picture perfect. Don’t forget that apart from being a regular Martha Stewart, Bree has also had firearm training (she owns four guns) and so the other team better keep their distance.

She’s constantly surrounded by murder and mayhem on Wisteria Lane, and yet manages to look like a goddess, complete with exquisitely applied lipstick and well coiffed hair.

Which means she’s going to look absolutely fabulous in the kitchen, and keep Ramsay more than a little distracted.

> So, which team do you think will win? Write to us at entertainment@thestar.com.my and tell us which TV characters you’d like to see in Sofa Spudniks’ edition of Hell’s Kitchen!

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Hell in the kitchen


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